Agriculture is big business in Florida and keeping crops hydrated is a struggle for farmers throughout the state. From small private cooperatives to large agricultural entities, many producers have been impacted in recent years by blue-green algal blooms throughout the state. These blooms have had a detrimental impact on Florida producers and have jeopardized the operations of many agricultural businesses.
In an effort to stem the passage of the blooms into important state waterways, state legislation was passed to build a dam south of Lake Okeechobee. U.S. Sugar, an entity operating in the area, had an option contract with the district responsible for the dam's construction that would have allowed the district to acquire some of U.S. Sugar's land for the project.
However, the legislation on which the dam project was built prohibited the use of eminent domain in the construction of the dam and allowed landowners to get out of contracts like the one U.S. Sugar had with the district if the project was completed without the contract being utilized. As the dam project reached completion and other requirements to end the contract were also met, U.S. Sugar was able to end its agreement with the district and protect its land from being sold for the dam project.
Businesses and private citizens often must fight for their right to keep their land safe from being taken by the state and other governmental entities. U.S. Sugar was able to prevail in this matter, and others facing similar difficult pursuits may be able to win out as well. Attorneys who defend their clients from eminent domain and land-taking actions can support those who are caught in situations like the one presented in this story.