Some critics place algae blame on sugar farming industry

It’s been a rough year for Moore Haven sugar cane farmer Amy Perry.

Clean water activists continue to blame her industry for creating toxic algae.

“We want to keep the water as clean as possible,” Perry said.

Activists said they’re pumping fertilizers into the waterways and influencing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water from Lake Okeechobee east and west instead of south.

“If we keep sending it south it’s going to harm the Everglades,” Perry said.

What confuses Perry the most, which activists agree with her on, is only 5 percent of the water in Lake Okeechobee comes from sugar farmers.

“When the water comes into the farm from Lake Okeechobee the phosphorus levels are actually higher than when the water is leaving our farm is,” Perry said.

James Cain, of Moore Haven, said all of this hate isn’t right.

“The farmers in this area are very much down to earth type Americans they do this for a living it’s hard living,” Cain said.

As for Perry, she monitors all her fertilizer closely. If rain is in the forecast, operations are shut down to prevent runoff, reduce soil erosion and control vegetation around canals.

Glades County is joining the fight against algae as well. One commissioner said they’re currently discussing eliminating all the septic tanks in the county to prevent more unwanted chemicals from getting into the water.

“Politicians need to definitely work with the farmers because without them we’re all in trouble,” Cain said.

Perry said she welcomes anyone to visit her farm as she wants to show everyone how they operate.

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