U.S. Sugar OK's Everglades sale

One party to the state's landmark sugar land buy signed off on the deal Monday as the U.S. Sugar Corp.'s board unanimously approved the $1.34 billion offer.

''We signed the deal on the table,'' said Robert Coker, a U.S. Sugar senior vice president. ``Now, it's in the hands of the water management district.''

The governing board of the South Florida Water Management District, which also must approve the contract, meets next Monday and Tuesday to discuss the deal, with a Dec. 16 deadline for a final vote.

If approved, the state would acquire nearly 181,000 acres of sugar fields and citrus groves in what would rank as the largest conservation land buy in state history.

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