State Approves Extension of Everglades Farming Lease

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Nearly 6,000 acres of state-owned land in Palm Beach County have been leased to A. Duda and Sons since 1963. The company is one of Florida's largest agriculture businesses.

The lease fee for the land is $1.5 million.

With no discussion, Bush and the Cabinet voted unanimously to extend the lease for 15 years. They heard no testimony although Eric Draper, conservation director for Audubon of Florida, was standing in the room waiting to speak.

Draper had written Bush and the Cabinet members last week urging them to consider restoration of the Everglades before they extended the lease. Draper suggested that the terms could be changed to require that more is done to reduce phosphorus-rich runoff or improve water management in the Everglades.

Phosphorus converts sawgrass and open water into thickets of cattails.