Mosaic pays $10,000 for Youth Fair Chocolate Cake (Adam Putnam’s Daughter Baked It)

$10,000 at auction
Mosaic Pays Big for Young Putnam’s Cake
http://www.theledger.com/article/20110125/NEWS/101255031?p=all&tc=pgall

By Jeremy Maready
THE LEDGER
Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 10:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 10:38 p.m.

LAKELAND | The 9-year-old daughter of Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam bakes one delicious chocolate hazelnut cake.
The Mosaic Co., a fertilizer company and one of the county’s largest employers, paid a record $10,000 for Abigail Putnam’s cake at the Polk County Youth Fair Auction on Tuesday.
It was the most ever paid for a cake at the annual fair, said Youth Fair Coordinator Janice Jackson. The second-highest bid was $600. She said a cake sold for $1,000 at a past auction, although $200 to $500 is typical.
Mosaic officials said Tuesday they are examining the decision to pay such a high price, and Adam Putnam described the situation as “awkward,” particularly for his daughter.
Mosaic, a large contributor to the annual agriculture fair, typically buys many things from the students who sell livestock and baked goods at the fair.
“They are a huge supporter of the kids and the fair,” said Nicole Walker, Polk County Extension director and 4-H agent.
But Tuesday’s purchase was unprecedented.
“Ten thousand dollars is way out of the normal ballpark,” Walker said.
Shortly after the auction, Abigail Putnam went to Jackson’s office and donated $9,000 of her winnings to the Youth Fair.
“Even my 9-year-old knows a cake isn’t worth $10,000,” Adam Putnam said Tuesday. “I am proud of my daughter and proud of her cake. She feels good about her decision and is excited about it. It’s going to help a lot of kids.”
A Mosaic spokesman, Russell Schweiss, said, “The $10,000 is definitely outside of the normal range.”
“We are investigating the issue and considering what actions are appropriate,” Schweiss said.
Schweiss said an employee whom he didn’t name was given a lump sum to bid on items at the auction. On Tuesday, the company spent $17,000 on pigs. The meat from the pigs, and other livestock the company purchases, will be given to charity.
Putnam said he tasted one of his daughter’s practice cakes and “it was good.”
She is active in 4-H, “just like I was,” Putnam said. “It teaches (the students) a lot of lessons.”
And for this instance, it taught his daughter a lesson in giving back.
But it was an awkward situation to be put in, Adam Putnam said. “The one that it’s most awkward for is Abbie.”
[ Jeremy Maready can be reached at jeremy.maready@theledger.com or 863-802-7592.

The Florida Phosphate Committee of Continuous Existence

I stumbled across this website in my online research. It has numerous photographs of our new governor in the header at the top of the page….

The Florida Phosphate Committee of Continuous Existence
http://floridaphosphatecce.com/about.htm

In late November 1979, the Florida Phosphate Committee of Continuous Existence (FPCCE) was organized to encourage phosphate industry participation in government and key political issues. Additionally, the FPCCE would provide a source for contributing campaign funds to political candidates in the State of Florida.
In 1983, the FPCCE extended its membership base to include Associate Memberships; i.e. companies providing supplies and services to the phosphate industry. Associate Memberships enhance the FPCCE’s impact in Tallahassee by providing “Strength in Numbers.”
Today, the committee has three phosphate Member Companies and 68 Associate Member companies with the commitment to contributing over $500,000 in this election cycle.
Working closely with their lobbyists in Tallahassee from the three phosphate Member Companies, the FPCCE strives to promote stronger relationships between the phosphate industry and our elected government officials.
We thank you for your support and participation for a united industry effort!
If you are interested in becoming an Associate Member Company, please email FPCCE
SAVE-THE-DATE!

The Florida Phosphate Committee of Continuous Existence
invites you to an old fashioned
Bar-B-Q Dinner and Social
Come on down & get the scoop on issues facing our industry!

Where: The Lakeland Center
701 West Lime Street, Lakeland FL 33815
Date: Thursday, October 20, 2011
Time: 5pm until 9pm
Admission: $150 per person
Deadline: October 17, 2011
Florida Phosphate Committee of Continuous Existence (FPCCE)
P.O. Box 1384
Mulberry, FL 33860

DEP Appointment Sends Pro-Industry Message

Scott’s Appointment for DEP Chief Sends Pro-Industry Message
The Bradenton Times
http://www.thebradentontimes.com/news/2011/01/05/state_government/scott_s_appointment_for_dep_chief_sends_pro_industry_message/
Published Wednesday, January 5, 2011 3:00 am
by Dennis Maley

BRADENTON – When Rick Scott named shipbuilding executive Herschel Vinyard to be the new secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection this week, deregulation proponents cheered. An attorney and part-time lobbyist, the BAE Systems executive used to represent clients accused of pollution violations. In other words, he’s made a good living arguing against the sort of regulations that the agency he will now head is charged with enforcing.

If this sounds shocking, it shouldn’t be. Scott ran on a platform of less government interference in the market place and as little industry oversight as possible. From allowing the Department of Community Affairs to sunshine, to talk of combining the DEP with the DCA and Department of Transportation, and even combining juvenile justice with children and families, Scott has revealed a desire to whittle government down to the smallest size possible — and a willingness to go to any lengths to do so. In fact, what might separate Scott from other governors most is his complete lack of political experience and the absence of a “well, you can’t actually do that” philosophy to such drastic changes.

However, his approach in selecting a DEP head is far from revolutionary. Hiring lobbyists and attorneys from the regulated industries to head a department’s oversight has been a popular tactic in recent years. President Bush regularly tapped such candidates to head agencies like Interior, Agriculture and the FDA. President Obama has relied almost exclusively on Wall Street vets and Federal Reserve Bank executives to monitor nearly every aspect of the banking crisis, TARP and even so-called reform. The argument used is that such professionals understand the practical implications of regulations best, but the end result is nearly always a quick and efficient gutting of any measures opposed by the industry, followed by a profitable return to the private sector they’ve just made so happy.

Predictably, Scott’s appointment, which still has to be confirmed by the Senate, was applauded by industry while being scoffed at by environmentalists. Neil Armingeon of the environmental group St. Johns Riverkeeper told the Miami Herald, “I’m almost at the point now where I’m not sure it matters who runs the agency, since the Scott administration plans to deregulate everything in Florida.” Whether Scott’s argument that such deregulation will yield massive investment and job creation or just turn the state into a giant landfill for a small handful’s profit remains to be seen

Phosphate worker saw six name changes at Bartow phosphate plant

The Lake Wales News
01/01/11

Retiring after all these years

PHOTO BY BILL RETTEW JR. Scott Marshall Smith (left) accepts an award for his 57 years of service at Mosaic Wednesday from Plant Manager Jeff Golwitzer. The Mosaic plant in Bartow had a retirement party for him.
By BILL RETTEW JR.
Staff Writer
Published:
Saturday, January 1, 2011 10:06 AM EST
Most of more than 100 fellow employees raised a hand at Scott Marshall Smith’s retirement party to confirm that they were not yet born when he started working at Mosaic in Bartow.
The Lake Wales resident was around long enough to witness six name changes at Mosaic’s Bartow plant, one of the world’s largest producers of phosphate and potash.
Smith retired on the 57th anniversary of his hire date in 1953 to much fanfare and smiles from co-workers.
The plant once employed up to 1,200 employees, but thanks to technological improvements, now 373 workers toil at a 15 times larger plant.

Prior to automation, and since Smith started as a sulfuric operator testing and filtering sulfur, the 550-ton sulfuric acid plant has grown to three 2,500-ton sulfuric acid plants on the 100-acre site, surrounded by 10,000 acres of company owned reclaimed land and mines.
The retiree witnessed those technological changes first hand. The employees originally counted on pneumatic air tubes to help operate the plant. Now computers run the process.
When the 19-year-old started, safety glasses, steel toed boots and protective headgear were not required on the job.
“There was an operator for every little job,” said Smith, “and many jobs were combined into one.”
Plant Manager Jeff Golwitzer said the plant became much more productive and efficient during Smith’s tenure in order to compete with companies hiring overseas workers at lower wages.
“I just changed with the times,” said Smith. “I never did mind coming to work.

“If I did, I would have left.”
Before safety gear became mandatory, employees didn’t punch a time clock at the phosphate plant.
“We’d trade off if we needed some time off,” said Smith. “They were just happy we got the job done, no matter who did the work. We’d even sign each other’s names.”
Times also changed outside the workplace and in Polk County.
“People were more friendly,” said the 76-year-old. “You knew your neighbors much more then.
“We didn’t lock the house and left the car keys in the car, but you couldn’t do that now.”
Smith is married to Carolyn, father to Scott Jr., and grandfather to Scott III, Julie and Jonathan.
So why did the fisherman and clay target sportsman stay at one job?
At first he intended to get “a real job” when he turned the required 21 years old to work for the telephone or power company.
After working at Publix and for the school board, Smith started out earning $1.67 per hour at the phosphate plant.
“I was paid a fair wage and had job security and stability,” said Smith.
While Smith worked more than a half century at the same place, he’s not an atypical Mosaic employee.
The average employee at the Bartow plant has been on the job for 18 years and is 55 years old.
Hank Crowley worked with Smith.
“Sometimes you spend more time with the employees than you do with your family,” said Crowley.
Bill Scott is a 33 year vet at Mosaic.
“He’s like a fixture,” Scott said about Smith. “It’s kind of like having your family and your grandfather out here.”
Fellow employees seemed in awe of Smith’s endurance and fitness. Plant manager Golwitzer first met his co-worker in the on-site gym. Several fellow workers smiled when they talked about chasing Smith up the facility’s many stairways.
Bernie Kerber has worked with phosphate and Smith for 34 years.
“No way, I’m not in half as good shape,” said Kerber. Most who spoke said they hope to be as healthy when they choose to retire.
Golwitzer presented the retiree with several awards, framed photographs and presented a slide show.
“With his dedication and fortitude, he’s an inspiration for all of us,” said Golwitzer.

3PR News: Massive Sinkhole Opens in Lithia

The first radio reports I heard on this event is that the landfill was built on “a former phosphate mine” site. I don’t see any further reference to that fact in current reports….

Lithia is the regional headquarters of Mosaic.

Posted: 1:14 PM
Last Updated: 1 hour and 30 minutes ago
http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_hillsborough/leaders-looks-for-solution-to-massive-sinkhole

• By: Ellen McNamara
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – Today, the Department of Environmental Protection plans to hold a meeting with Hillsborough County leaders to figure out how to fix a massive sinkhole under the Southeast Landfill in Lithia.
The last time we checked with Hillsborough County, the hole was about 60 feet deep.
Even before the meeting this afternoon, the DEP sent a letter to the Hillsborough County Solid Waste Management Department outlining what the county needs to do to ensure the groundwater is safe to drink.
The letter outlines eight different steps, and Michelle Van Dyke with Public Utilities, says the county is doing everything they have been told.
The DEP wants crews to take samples of water at different wells around the 3300 acre site. The samples have to be collected on a daily basis.
Workers also are required to monitor storm water and wells off site on private property near the landfill.
The gas collection system near the sinkhole has to stop operating, but other collection sites can continue working.
As for what caused the sinkhole, geologists working with the county say they are not sure.
Van Dyke says the Florida Aquifer, which flows 130 feet below the surface of the landfill, appears to be fine. The sinkhole formed on a mound about 45 feet above ground.
Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Leaders look for solution to massive sinkhole
Source: abcactionnews.com

protectpeaceriver@gmail.com sent this using ShareThis.

3PR News: DCA Leader Resigns

The DCA takes part in the phosphate mining process – reviewing all county comp plan amendment proposals and allowing the public their opportunity to comment….

Community Affairs Secretary: There Goes the Scapegoat
http://www.theledger.com/article/20101209/EDIT01/12095006/1036?p=all&tc=pgall
Published: Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 12:28 a.m.
( page all of 2 )
They won’t have Tom Pelham to kick around anymore. The respected secretary of the Florida Department of Community Affairs has resigned.
It is Florida’s loss, because Pelham has not only been an environmental and growth-management visionary, he has proved to be an adept-and-willing compromiser over the years, especially with the state’s insatiable growth-and-development machine.
It is clear Pelham had no future under incoming Gov. Rick Scott — and maybe would not have had one even if Scott hadn’t been elected, given the Legislature’s disdain for the DCA and Pelham. Nonetheless, Scott was elected and during the election the governor-elect branded the DCA a “jobs killer” for its role in monitoring compliance with the state’s Growth Management Act.
It was a bogus charge, of course, aimed solely at trying to provide the teetering development sector with someone to blame for its greed and lack of restraint. There is very little evidence to suggest that overregulation has slowed down Florida’s growth machine.
The DCA has stopped, or scaled down, some developments that city and county governments approved. While that was happening, hundreds of thousands of new homes and retail spaces were created. It’s the economy — not The DCA — that left them empty.
CLASS ACT TO THE END
To his credit, Pelham has not been shy about defending his department against relentless criticism from Scott and other politicians. In fact, Pelham has been an activist DCA secretary, getting personally involved in those cases he thought were important to Florida’s long-term growth management. In September 2007, Pelham came to Lakeland to hear the concerns of citizens about CSX Transportation’s plan to run more — and longer — freight trains through downtown. He always conducted himself with class and conviction.
Even in the end.
“I think it’s extraordinarily unfair … to give us the responsibility to enforce the laws written by the Legislature and then point the finger of blame at us when we do what we’re charged under the law to do,” Pelham said recently. “It’s very discouraging to public servants, who are given a mission and responsibility to enforce laws enacted by others, to be constantly bashed for doing their job.”
Pelham will leave behind a department under siege. Lawmakers have relentlessly chipped away at Florida’s landmark Growth Management Act. And it is likely that the DCA will be abolished outright, all but ending Florida’s three-decade-long attempt to more wisely manage land use and development.
What will the politicians do for a scapegoat after Pelham and the DCA are gone

Phosphate mining moves forward

As President of 3PR I would like to respond to this email (below) from Frank Kirkland which I consider a cynical misrepresentation of the position that the environmental plaintiffs have taken in the law suit and mediation process.

I feel confident that the partial settlement that we negotiated with Mosaic allowing their workers a 4-month reprieve and preserving two bayhead wetlands from extinction in the very branch that runs through Frank Kirkland’s property was a beneficial deal. Frank Kirkland himself said at the last 3PR meeting that those two bayheads were the only remaining source of baseflow to the branch. Now they shall become part of a permanent conservation easement. The easement will also buffer the McClellan’s property from mining.

These are “substantive” benefits – something that cannot be gained from an EIS. If the middle court’s decision to impose a preliminary injunction on the S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension is overturned on appeal, then, at the very least, we have saved two bayheads from mining. If the appeals court upholds the injunction then Mosaic will have to return to the negotiating table and sacrifice more wetlands in order to continue mining.

Yes, the environmental plaintiffs have continued to meet with a Mosaic representative to continue to explore the possibilities for further partial settlement agreements in the event that the preliminary injunction is upheld. There have been two such meetings (at Appleby’s) and as a result of them we have obtained some written information in response to questions we have asked about Mosaic’s mining operations, reclamation standards and timing, hydrology, conservation easements, water recycling, and gyp stacks. We will continue to meet with Mosaic as long as we consider the information they share to be useful for our purposes.

“Why go to court if you are going to go behind closed doors and work up deals with the industry…? ” I think I’ve explained that… because court decisions are subject to appeal and can be overturned. Mediation is a process by which you can use the leverage that you have at least temporarily gained to obtain some enduring results. And, by the way, the mediations were carried out by telephone conference calls – not “closed doors” – and were recommended by our legal council, Mr. Huber, whose experience and advice we trust.

The S. Fort Meade Mine Extension preliminary injunction doesn’t mean that we’ve snuffed out the phosphate mining industry forever. It means the environmental plaintiffs have a brief window of opportunity during which we have gained the upper hand in the court system and can use that momentum to our advantage if we are willing to participate in the mediation process. Although the mediation process isn’t mandatory it was proposed by Judge Adams prior to his decision to order the preliminary injunction. At that point Mosaic refused to mediate because they were confident, I suppose, that the court would decide in their favor. I’m sure they were bitterly disappointed. From the beginning the environmental plaintiffs, however, did agree to mediate. It was only after the preliminary injunction and Mosaic was at a disadvantage that they saw mediation as a useful option. In mediation both sides are willing to gamble knowing that they are going to have to sacrifice a long term objective for an immediate gain.

The Mosaic strategy has been to lay off their workers in response to the preliminary injunction on the S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension, thereby attempting to turn public sentiment against the environmental community and the court. Our willingness to exchange wetland protections for jobs disarmed that strategy and secured wetland protections that directly benefit Frank Kirkland and others.

Unfortunately the delight Frank Kirkland derives from deriding his own leadership outweigh his ability to apprehend the good that we have done.

Dennis Mader
Pres. 3PR

On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 10:27 PM, frank kirkland wrote:
The forward motion of phosphate mining is guaranteed by the people wasting time, money and court uses.

It seems that fear corruption reaches every corner where people are given any authority or power, crippling the chances for anything good
coming about.

We have watched helplessly as local and state authorities work the back room scams and plots that support the Industry and squash the people in their tracks with the medias who profit highly from the phosphate industry ads as do politicians.

this scenario I see reaches even deep in the environmental world as groups are formed and grow its leaders soon become as corrupt as government agents, going green is the motto, if you can’t make it honestly do it how ever you can “Just seek Money and or Power”

I now learn that we have people in high places playing what I consider illegal rolls in our mist (the very people supposedly fighting for us in the court system), these people are becoming the same as most politicians and Lawyers they are making close relations with the enemy, which include under cover negotiations between Mosaic officials and the plaintiffs, these people may have good intentions but in reality the have no place trading away our rights at their uninformed discretion and with out our consent.

Why go to court if you are going to go behind closed doors and work up deals with the industry that is not the wishes of the people who were used to form the case around, why introduce evidence to the court which puts you in some what control or gives you leverage, then in the heat of mediation be pressured by less than factual in put from the other side and a Mediator who is highly paid to sway the case into settlement of some sort. (Mediation can come from court order or both sides request, but in neither case is settlement mandatory)

These people are easily blind sided by the pro’s from the industry who are well experienced at deception, the actions of this commity will be costly to the case in many ways, such as saying to the Army corps its ok to mine before you get the EIS, It speaks along with the back room exchanges still going on between Mosaic and some of our people that we are easy,well trade a pime cow for a pig with lipstick, We are saying EPAs opinion is not valid, It says we don’t care if this case sets the way future cases will fall, knowing full well we can’t preform in lower corts where the industry is favored, above all it sais the groups are just plain not willing to stand for anything. (Run cowards run)

Our fate is in the hands of people who will only suffer from after shock of mining we are the people who are on the line that will be hit in the face with a ton of immediate crap, and we are the people who have fought the fight while many of the leaders were using our work to take our rights away and make the news as if they had done something special, well this is true it takes all to get to certain points but then the glory seekers go bananas and make stupid decisions.

so all you people that suck up to the dollars and no since white collars enjoy what they hand you for your time and money, every dog has his day this included us all.

where I go from here is very much in question but it dam sure want be with the likes of the heart of the groups involved with this federal suit I have enough enemies with out encouraging more, yes some of the people I met and worked with have a special spot in my heart but some have moved to another spot close to the rest of my main pains.

Make all the fun of this you want but keep in mined we reap what we soy and that includes bad and good, so sowing to corruptness will be accounted for the same as sowing to good even if good is not always the clearest path. (Its bad enough to make mistakes, but to continue that track after warning it becomes stupidity.)
Frank Kirkland

Phosphate lawsuit: In hard-hit Hardee County, it’s wetlands vs. jobs

By Steve Huettel and Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Sunday, November 21, 2010
Read article here

FORT MEADE — After a hitch in the Navy and work handling psychiatric patients in lockdown, Billy Griffis held a prized job in this corner of rural Central Florida. • Mosaic Fertilizer paid him $42,000 last year as “wrencher” laying big pipes and fixing pumps at its South Fort Meade phosphate mine. Griffis, 35, didn’t worry about job security. Fertilizer prices soared in recent months, and the world’s largest phosphate fertilizer producer hadn’t laid off a worker during the mine’s 15-year history. • That changed in September. After the Sierra Club and two Florida environmental groups won a federal court ruling to stop work on new section of the mine, Mosaic warned that hundreds of jobs were at risk, then cut 60. The company blamed the Sierra Club. Environmentalists shot back that Mosaic was playing hard-ball to sway public opinion. • The two sides worked out a deal that will bring all the employees back for a while. But neither is ready to quit. Too much is at stake.
Mosaic says it could run short of Florida phosphate without the Fort Meade expansion. Workers worry they’ll be back out of work in a drum-tight job market if the environmental groups win in court. Environmentalists hope a rare court victory will force mining regulators to get tougher with the state’s powerful phosphate business.
• • •
The groups sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on June 30, challenging a permit it gave Mosaic to destroy 500 acres of wetlands in an extension of the mine into Hardee County. The next day, U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. ordered a temporary ban on mining wetlands on the 10,855-acre site.
Within days, Mosaic said it would be forced to close the mine and notified 221 workers they faced layoffs in 60 days unless the judge lifted the order. Instead, Adams indefinitely continued the ban, saying the company could still mine upland areas for as long as two years.
Mosaic called it impractical to navigate massive draglines around pockets of wetlands and still mine enough phosphate to make economic sense. But laidoff workers began returning last week, after the agreement with environmentalists to let Mosaic dig 200 acres that had been prepared for mining before the lawsuit.
That gives employees four months of work while the battle grinds through the courts. What happens next lies in the hands of a federal appeals court in Atlanta.
• • •
Environmentalists say mining those wetlands at South Fort Meade will cause more damage than it’s worth. They contend it will lower the level of the already-drained Peace River and the underground aquifer, affecting the local water supply.
Also, destroying wetlands that filter pollutants from stormwater runoff could foul the river that empties 100 miles south into Charlotte Harbor, they say. The river is vital to maintaining the harbor’s delicate salinity that hosts endangered species as well as thriving commercial and recreational fishing.
Mosaic is counting on the South Fort Meade mine expansion to produce 30 percent of the rock that its Florida plants process into diammonium phosphate fertilizer, known as DAP. Without the new mine, Mosaic might have to import rock from Morocco or Peru at a higher cost to keep its fertilizer plants running at full capacity.
Any decline in production at Mosaic, which employs 3,000 in Florida, would ripple through contractors and vendors: welders, equipment mechanics, suppliers of bulk chemicals such as liquid ammonia.
Phosphate mining in Central Florida made Tampa a port city in the 1880s and still plays a big role supporting the maritime business.
The phosphate and fertilizer industry generated one-third of the 38 million tons of cargo that moved through the port last year. It supports more than 67,000 jobs in the region, reported a 2006 study commissioned by the Tampa Port Authority.
“It’s a singular industry,” says port director Richard Wainio. “Florida doesn’t have a lot of big industries, and this is at or near the top of the pile as far as economic benefit for the state.”
Judge Adams’ ruling, believed to be the first court order to stop a Florida mining operation, delighted environmentalists like Dennis Mader of the Protect the Peace River, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
“For years and years, the phosphate industry has ridden along on the short-term economic benefits in the form of jobs, business at the Port of Tampa and contractors,” said Mader, a resident of Hardee County. “Everybody’s excused the environmental damage that’s endemic in their method of operation.”
U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, the Bartow Republican elected Nov. 2 as Florida’s agriculture commissioner, on the other hand, contends that environmentalists are out to kill the golden goose.
“If you’re serious about putting Florida back to work, why in the world would you eliminate one of its largest employers?” he told the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in September.
• • •
It’s not unusual to find families with two or three generations of men who have worked the mines in the vast rural landscape where Polk, Hardee, Hillsborough and Manatee counties come together. They might have played for or against South Fort Meade High School’s football team, the Fighting Miners.
Citrus and cattle dominate the local economy outside mining. Without a college degree, it’s tough even to find work that pays a little over minimum wage, says Griffis, who returned to his job at the South Fort Meade mine Monday.
Unemployment in his home county of Hardee hit 14.8 percent in September, tied with Hernando for the fourth-highest rate among Florida’s 72 counties. While unemployed, Griffis applied for jobs with the city of Wauchula, the county seat and the local McDonald’s. None was hiring.
Clay Farris hoped to be back at work as a Mosaic conveyor operator this week or next. On unemployment since September, he has burned through $5,000 in savings and stopped making $1,300 mortgage payments on his house in Frostproof.
The lawsuit has sparked friction within families. Farris, 32, was borrowing his brother-in-law’s truck but something on the bumper stopped him in his tracks: a Sierra Club sticker.
“That got ripped off plenty quick,” he says. His brother-in-law, a beekeeper, dropped his membership.
Last week, Mosaic announced plans to launch a new business near Fort Meade. The company will build a luxury golf resort on 2,000 acres of restored mine land. Building the golf course, clubhouse and guest villas at Streamsong Resort will employ hundreds of construction workers, Mosaic says. A hospitality management company will employ at least 200 people by the opening, scheduled for fall 2013.
“Without Mosaic’s help,” Griffis says, “Hardee County would turn into a ghost town.”
• • •
Formed by a 2004 merger between IMC-Global and Cargill, Mosaic first applied for the federal permit for the South Fort Meade mine expansion four years ago, after three years of reviews by local and state agencies gave it a green light.
The Corps of Engineers at last approved a permit that allowed Mosaic to souffle more than 500 acres of wetlands or open water. To make up for the environmental damage, the corps required Mosaic to create about 480 acres of new wetlands — something scientists say is often difficult, if not impossible.
The corps’ own rules require looking for less environmentally damaging alternatives when a project does not have to be built in wetlands. If the agency relies on the applicant to do that analysis, then the corps must double-check the work.
But according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mosaic and the corps failed to meet their responsibilities. For example, the EPA said, Mosaic should have considered a smaller mine that wouldn’t destroy so many wetlands. And the corps didn’t independently verify the company’s findings.
The EPA declined to use its seldom-invoked power to veto the permit. But the agency’s objections to the corps helped persuade Judge Adams to block further mining while the corps must start over on a crucial part of the Mosaic permit application.
Environmental and civic groups, alarmed by the phosphate industry’s water use and waste products, have been calling for a decade for the corps to launch a regionwide study of the environmental impact of mining. Instead, the corps has looked only at each permit application on its own.
But the suit over Mosaic’s permit contended that past mining has contributed to tremendous environmental degradation in Central Florida. It cited the corps’ own findings that phosphate mining had led to the loss of 343 miles of streams and 136,000 acres of wetlands in the Peace River region, as well as a decline in the Floridan Aquifer of up to 50 feet within the Peace River watershed.
After Adams’ ruling, the corps finally agreed in August to spend about 18 months on a regional study of phosphate mining’s impact on the environment. The reason: In addition to the South Fort Meade mine, the corps has pending wetland destruction permit applications for 11 more new mines, which it says “may result in significant cumulative environmental impacts in the future.”
Despite the contentions of Putnam and other pro-mining advocates, “it’s not our intention to stop mining,” said Glenn Compton of ManaSota-88, another plaintiff in the Mosaic suit. “We just want to make it a better process.”
Mosaic worker Farris insists environmental groups go too far when they endanger people’s livelihoods.
“I’m all for the environment,” he says. “I love to hunt and fish. I take my kids out on the boat. I love camping. But people have got to have jobs.”
Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8128.

[Last modified: Nov 20, 2010 12:43 AM] Copyright 2010 St. Petersburg Times

3PR News: Streamsong, The Emperor’s New Clothes

Hold your nose and check out how Mosaic’s new “Streamsong” resort is being marketed….

http://www.streamsongresort.com/

Click here to read article in PDF format
Text format follows:
Welcome to a new kind of resort. Miles from what you might expect to find in Central Florida, Streamsong is the ideal destination for relaxation, restoration and, most of all, renewal. Here, the natural beauty of Florida sets the stage for escape amid pristine lakes and gentle streams. Streamsong’s guests are welcome to enjoy not only premium resort features like world-class golf and fine dining, but also enrichment programs centered on the arts, wellness, nature and more.

It’s the redefinition of resort. Explore the great outdoors, and also learn about the surrounding ecology. Pamper yourself with spa treatments, or find a new voice in a writing workshop. Far from your typical destination, Streamsong is a place to immerse yourself in any number of experiences, and come away enriched.

At Streamsong, outdoor opportunities abound, including two 18-hole golf courses, unparalleled Florida bass fishing, and hiking and biking on nature trails – to name just a few.

Guests can also take part in activities that elevate the mind and spirit. From wellness to culinary learning, and from gardening to fine arts, immersion programs will be offered in partnership with Florida’s best and brightest.

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Morocco Plans 800 Acre Resort Hotel Funded by Fertilizer Cash

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-05/morocco-plans-800-acre-resort-hotel-funded-by-fertilizer-cash.html

By Brendan Borrell and Daniel Grushkin
Nov 5, 2010 11:15 AM ET

Béatrice Montagnier, a hotel specialist with consulting firm Horwath HTL, snapped pictures of an old warehouse and a jumble of sun-baked two-story concrete block homes outside the Moroccan town of Khouribga. It was May 2009 and Paris-based Montagnier was scoping out a planned site for an 800-acre hotel resort and museum. While she worked on details of project layout, one issue — funding — was not a concern. The estimated $1 billion needed to build the resort would come from the ground beneath her feet, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Nov. 8 issue. Khouribga and elsewhere in Morocco are home to the world’s biggest known deposits of phosphate, used in fertilizer, detergent, food additives, and more recently lithium-ion batteries. Sold for decades in its raw state for less than $50 per metric ton, it’s currently at about $125, according to World Bank figures. This is good news for Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, 47, who owns more than half the world’s phosphate reserves. Mohammed VI is the unofficial overseer of the state-owned phosphate monopoly, Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), Morocco’s largest industrial company. Most traders expect OCP to drive the commodity’s price higher, which means the cost of making everything from corn syrup to iPads will be going up. Phosphate as fertilizer is the engine powering modern agriculture, and its reserves are in decline almost everywhere except Morocco. Most phosphate mines, including those in the U.S., which produces 17 percent of global supply, have been in decline for the past decade, running out of quality rock and hindered by environmental regulation. That has forced companies to look farther afield for supplies.

Mosaic, BHP, Potash
Earlier this year, Mosaic Co. spent $385 million for a 35 percent stake in a Peruvian mine to supply rock to its phosphate operations in the U.S. and South America. Australia’s BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, made a $40 billion hostile takeover offer for Canada’s Potash Corp., a major supplier of both potash and phosphate. Even a temporary phosphate shortage could affect a range of U.S. industries. Phosphate fertilizer is used on just about every crop, though most in the U.S. goes to the 13 billion bushels of corn grown each year to make everything from corn syrup to cattle feed to ethanol. The 2007-08 food crisis gives clues to how a shortage might play out. At that time, rising food prices led to riots across Africa and Asia. Before the crisis was over, China had levied a 135 percent export tariff on its phosphate to protect its domestic food supply; phosphate there is still taxed at 110 percent at the height of the buying season.

85% of World’s Total
The scale of Morocco’s phosphate wealth was officially verified in September, when the International Fertilizer Development Center released its long-awaited update on global phosphate resources. Morocco’s portion went from the 5.7 billion tons still cited in U.S. Geologic Survey reports, to 50 billion tons — 85 percent of the world’s total. Even with 170 million tons of concentrated phosphate changing hands each year, the Moroccans likely have at least 300 to 400 years of rock available.

Talal Zouaoui, OCP’s director of communications, won’t agree or disagree with estimates, but says in an e-mail that Morocco has “significant reserves,” and notes that reserves denote only those quantities that countries have discovered and deem economically viable to extract. With a growing world population consuming more grain, more meat, and more biofuels, demand is expected to rise at a rate of 2 percent to 3 percent per year, according to the International Fertilizer Association. Dana Cordell, co-founder of the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative, predicts that phosphate production will “peak” within the next 50 years.

Fertilizer, Coca-Cola
Not all phosphate becomes fertilizer: about 15 percent is turned into detergents or food additives, such as the tangy phosphoric acid in Coca-Cola, or the moisture-retaining salts in salami.
OCP controls 30 percent of global phosphate exports, and plans to increase annual production from 30 million tons to 54 million tons by 2015, investing $5 billion in the process. By that time, Prayon SA, a Belgian phosphate processor in which OCP owns a 50 percent stake, believes demand for phosphate as a component of the lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles could exceed demand for it in detergent. At September’s World Fertilizer Conference in San Francisco, Morocco’s ascendancy was the main topic of conversation.

Hotel Hopping
Asked about OCP, trader Mark Mangassarian answered with a question: “Oh, you mean the guys who are trying to drive up phosphate prices the most?” Mangassarian, who is assistant vice-president for sales at Nitron International in Stamford, Conn., spent three days doing deals at the San Francisco conference hopping from suite to suite at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square. Though the industry average for diammonium phosphate fertilizer has hovered around $500 this summer, the executives he sat down with weren’t willing to go below $550. A few weeks later, Mangassarian came to see it their way, and is paying $560. OCP’s tough negotiating tactics have irritated many in the industry. “You try to talk to them, and they don’t answer. They’ve always been like that. That’s their strategy,” says Taoufik Meddeb, who buys sulfur for Groupe Chimique Tunisien, another state-owned company and OCP’s biggest competitor in North Africa. “God just put the phosphate there,” said Jamal Bensari, a member of OCP’s delegation. “It is our only resource, and it is our responsibility.” ‘Quasi-Impossible’ OCP’s current communications director Zouaoui declined to arrange interviews for Bloomberg Businessweek following multiple requests in September and October. “It is quasi-impossible right now,” he explained. In a separate e-mail, he also noted that OCP is “subject to customary international governance standards for a global corporation, including transparency and accountability.”

Mohammed VI, called the King of the Poor for his efforts to raise Morocco’s living standards, has about $2 billion in assets, which places him seventh on Forbes’ list of the richest royals. That’s far behind Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai but well ahead of the Prince of Monaco. Although he is not technically the head of state, he has control of the country as both a secular and religious leader. He appoints the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, and has the power to overrule or dissolve the elected Parliament. His portrait adorns the first page of OCP’s annual reports, and his face appears in nearly every home and coffee shop. The Moroccan Embassy did not respond to requests for interviews with the King.

Disputed Territory
Western Sahara is a disputed territory. It’s also where Morocco’s best phosphate lies. The region known to the King as “Moroccan Sahara” begins just south of the fishing village of Tarfaya on the Atlantic coast. The UN calls it “the non-self- governing territory of Western Sahara” and deems it “occupied.” It’s a place where phosphate rumbles to the coast on the world’s longest conveyor belt, while tanks and soldiers roam alongside, defending the shipments from Sahrawi separatists.
When Spain withdrew from Western Sahara in 1975, some 350,000 Moroccans marched into the region with tents on their backs. The native Sahrawi fought back for 16 years under the leadership of the Algerian-backed Polisario rebels, signing a cease-fire in 1991. The UN continues to monitor the agreement with 215 uniformed peacekeepers, but a planned vote on self- determination has been repeatedly delayed. Today, approximately 90,000 Sahrawi live in refugee camps in Algeria, separated from their families in Moroccan-controlled territory by a 1,400-mile- long berm dotted with land mines.

Land Mines
OCP reports that just 2 percent of Morocco’s phosphate lies in the Phousboucraa mine at Bou Craa in Western Sahara, and that it accounts for 6 percent of sales. Companies in Australia and Norway have said they no longer use phosphate mined in Western Sahara. In August, Mosaic told the advocacy group Western Sahara Resource Watch that it has stopped buying rock from the territory. The U.S., in addition to needing the phosphate, sees Morocco as an ally in the war against terrorism. Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed U.S. support for Morocco’s plan of “limited autonomy” for the territory, which stops short of the independence demanded by the Polisario.

Private Riads
Montagnier finished her consulting contract last year, but her employer, Horwath, has a small office in Rabat and is working on other projects. The King opened the Royal Mansour Marrakech hotel this year, with private riads — the traditional style of home with a courtyard and garden — going for $2,200 per night. For Khouribga, Montagnier has settled on three stars for the hotel, but says the final room tally awaits approval by OCP. Architects put the total price on the project, known as Mine Verte, at 665 million euros ($937 million). “Khouribga is the world capital of phosphates,” says Founoun Mohammed, 48, a subcontractor overseeing the first stages of a pipeline that will deliver phosphate in slurry form from Khouribga to the port of Jorf Lasfar south of Casablanca, 146 miles away. After work he settles down at the back of a favorite restaurant and talks business over seafood paella. A bottle of Moroccan wine is not to his liking, and he orders a French red for the table. “People will come from Europe, the United States, everywhere to see Khouribga. It will raise the level of the city.” He is in high spirits and pours a glass of wine for the waiter, who tosses it back in a single gulp. Mohammed says he loves his country: He is safe and has a good job, what else can he ask for? “The King,” he says, “is a gentleman.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Brendan Borrell at bborrell@nasw.org; Daniel Grushkin through Bryant Urstadt in New York at burstadt@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amanda Jordan at ajordan11@bloomberg.net