Ryan Duffy, who joined Hill+Knowlton Strategies after serving as former House Speaker Will Weatherford‘s spokesman, now will be heading to U.S. Sugar as its Director of Corporate Communications, the company announced Friday.
“We are pleased to add Mr. Duffy to U.S. Sugar’s leadership team, where he will help articulate the company’s positions and share our vision of sustainable American food production with all of our stakeholders,” said Judy Sanchez, the Senior Director for Corporate Communications and Public Affairs.
“Through his corporate and political work, Duffy brings a wealth of talent and experience communicating for a variety of audiences that will be an asset to our company,” she added. His first day is Aug. 1.
He will “assist in managing the company’s media relations and public outreach efforts while providing strategic counsel on all public-facing corporate initiatives,” according to a press release.
Duffy joins Eric Edwards, the longtime Tallahassee-based legislative assistant to Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz, who is now the Clewiston-based company’s Assistant Vice President of Governmental Affairs.
“It is truly an honor to work for an agribusiness that is not only steeped in history, but is also setting the standard in innovation among America’s sugarcane farming businesses,” Duffy said in a statement. “I look forward to joining a team of professionals that have helped to make U.S. Sugar as successful as it is today.”
He is currently a Vice President at Hill+Knowlton Strategies in Tallahassee and has been a speechwriter to former U.S. Sens. George LeMieux and Mel Martinez and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Duffy has a graduate degree in Political Management from George Washington University and an undergraduate degree from Florida State University.
Duffy, once named a Florida Politics “30 Under 30” rising star in Florida politics, and wife Danielle have two children, 4-year-old Cormac and 2-year -old Donovan.
U.S. Sugar, with over $1 billion in annual revenue, stokes envy among other agribusinesses and roils controversy among the state’s environmentalists.
It got its start in the early part of the 20th century, when businessman Charles Stewart Mott “invested millions of dollars of his own funds in a sugar cane farming operation and convinced others that the dream of growing in the rich muck soils around Lake Okeechobee was not only possible, but it could be profitable,” the company’s website says.
It now farms nearly 190,000 acres in Hendry, Glades and Palm Beach counties, creating jobs and contributing to America’s table. But it’s regularly been criticized, usually unfairly, for agricultural practices that cause runoff into the state’s “River of Grass.”
In 2013, the conglomerate got a measure passed by lawmakers and approved by Gov. Rick Scott that saved the industry millions of dollars on Everglades pollution cleanup.
U.S. Sugar’s political contributions average approximately $1.5 million per year. When you subtract dollars spent in years involving a constitutional amendment related to their industry, that average is significantly lower.