U.S. Sugar Releases Second Annual “State of Our Air” Report, Highlighting Continuing Trend of Safe and Clean Air Quality in Glades

Clewiston, FL – For the second straight year, U.S. Sugar is releasing air quality data from government and private sources showing the results of three years of air quality monitoring in the Glades farming communities. To complement the information published by state agencies showing better than average air quality in the Glades, the latest report also includes internal data collected by professional air monitoring experts on behalf of U.S. Sugar confirming the public air quality data.

“The people of U.S. Sugar are happy to release the Second Annual State of Our Air Report for the 2020—2021 season, which shows that the Glades communities have air that is good, safe and clean,” said Robert H. Buker, Jr., U.S. Sugar’s President & CEO. “U.S. Sugar, along with hundreds of independent, family farmers, is proud of our partnership and commitment to our community.”

In order to get even more information and data than was publically available, professional-grade air quality monitoring equipment was placed in three additional locations throughout the region. We also decided to look beyond small particulates (PM2.5) and check polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs had been part of recent false attacks by outside activist groups and paid news reports. Fortunately, all the internal monitoring data farmers collected confirms what the public air quality monitoring has shown for decades—our farming region has good air quality that meets all state and federal air quality standards—which is the best rating for air used by the federal government.

The Report is a continuation of our ongoing conversations with our neighbors about U.S. Sugar’s commitment to helping keep the farming communities where we work, play, and raise our families clean, safe, and healthy. U.S. Sugar is proud to reaffirm that commitment in releasing the information included in this report.

Summary & Key Findings of the Second Annual State of Our Air Report:

  • Despite dishonest claims from anti-farming activists, privately collected PM 2.5 data confirms that the Belle Glade monitor was never “malfunctioning” and instead provided accurate and reliable air quality data for the people of theGlades. FDEP and other agency officials also confirm the fitness and reliability ofpublic equipment.
  • In November, Florida Department of Environmental Protection installed a new, federally-approved FEM regulatory monitor that (1) shows readings consistent with the previous monitor and (2) is the same type monitor used to collect the private data included in this report; which should serve as additional proof points that the air in our communities is “good.” 
  • Both publicly available and privately collected data on small particulate matter (PM 2.5) show the Glades’ communities continue to have clean, safe, and “good” air – which is the very best designation of air quality when analyzing PM 2.5 (as set by the EPA).
  • In addition to low particulate matter levels, the Glades’ communities also experience extremely low levels of benzo[a]pyrene (BaP)—which isproduced by various sources and often found in breathing zones. Privatelycollected data over the entire sampling period consistently fell well below theRegional Screening Level (RSL) established by the EPA.
  • As farmers and businesses that rely on science and data in our daily lives and to provide additional professional-grade air quality monitoring information, U.S. Sugar started privately monitoring local air quality to provide additional data to the residents of our communities.

For more information and to read this and last years report, click these links: 2021 and 2020. Para español, presione aquí.

U.S. Sugar is a farming company that grows sugarcane, citrus, sweet corn and other winter and spring vegetables in South Florida. The company was founded in 1931 by Charles Stewart Mott, a visionary leader who hailed from a long line of farmers. Since the beginning, the company’s success has been rooted in traditional farming values and respect for the land.

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U.S. Sugar’s Judy Clayton Sanchez Re-Appointed to National Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee

Clewiston, FL – The people of U.S. Sugar are proud to announce that Judy Clayton Sanchez, Senior Director for Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, has been re-appointed to the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade (ATAC) in Sweeteners and Sweetener Products by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Sanchez’s term expires in 2025.

“Now perhaps more than ever, having an abundant, local and sustainable source of affordable, American-grown food crops is of critical importance as our nation continues to deal with the global pandemic,” said U.S. Sugar President and CEO Robert H. Buker, Jr. “We are proud to have Ms. Sanchez continue to advocate for American sugarcane farmers on this important advisory committee.”

Throughout her career, Sanchez has been a tireless advocate for our nation’s zero-cost sugar policy as well as strong and fair trade agreements governing sugar with our foreign, oft-subsidized competitors. Sanchez has established herself as an industry leader, helping to educate elected officials and their staff during local farm tours, and also in Tallahassee and Washington. This appointment will allow Sanchez the opportunity to continue advocating for the more than 12,500 people employed by sugarcane harvesting and processing in Florida.  The sugar industry also provides for more than $3.2 billion in annual economic activity throughout Florida.

“Growing up and raising a family in a farming community, I know firsthand the importance of preserving this way of life for future generations of American farmers and the American families who depend upon us for a safe and reliable food supply,” Sanchez said.  “I look forward to continuing to serve among this prestigious group of agricultural leaders and representing our local farmers and rural Glades communities.”   

The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee is comprised of senior representatives from across the nation’s agricultural community who provide advice to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on trade policy matters including the operation of existing trade agreements and the negotiation of new agreements. Members of the six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATACs) provide technical advice and guidance from the perspective of their specific product sectors.

About U.S. Sugar

U.S. Sugar is a farming company that grows sugarcane, citrus, sweet corn and other winter and spring vegetables in South Florida. The company was founded in 1931 by a visionary leader who hailed from a long line of farmers. Since the beginning, the company’s success has been rooted in traditional farming values and respect for the land. Today, the company provides more than 2,500 good-paying American jobs, and its local farmers provide nearly 10 percent of all sugar produced in the United States, up to 150 million glasses per year of premium Florida orange juice and nearly half of Florida’s sweet corn crop.

U.S. Sugar’s Historic Steam Locomotive Becomes “Santa Express,” Delivering Early Holiday Greetings and Good Cheer to Glades Communities in Partnership with U.S. Marines and Toys for Tots

Clewiston, FL – Today, volunteers from U.S. Sugar, joined by Santa and Mrs. Claus, members of the United States Marine Corps and local representatives from Toys for Tots, delivered presents to the children of the Glades farming communities by the historic steam engine, Sugar Express. Becoming the Santa Express for the day, the train’s holiday journey was focused on highlighting the support organizations such as Toys for Tots, which serves thousands of less fortunate families across South Florida. The Belle Glade Boys and Girls Club also received a delivery of toys.

“Giving back to our communities during the holiday season is especially important, particularly when many families are experiencing difficulties related to the pandemic and the economic downturn across many industries,” said Community Relations Manager Brannan Thomas. “Our farmers have been blessed to be able continue farming since the pandemic began, so in addition to growing food for American families, helping our neighbors in whatever way we can, is also part of what rural farming communities do to take care of each other.”

Members of the community and representatives from the nonprofits were on hand to welcome the Sugar Express as it steamed into town with U.S. Marines and Santa Claus on board to deliver toys. The steam engine made stops in Moore Haven, Clewiston, Belle Glade and Port Mayaca.

“This year has been trying in more ways than one,” said Joseph Hosick, Coordinator for Toys for Tots in Hendry County. “Moments like this remind us to find joy in the midst of that and share it with one another as the people of U.S. Sugar have shared with us.”

Bikes, fishing poles, dolls and bilingual books were among the hundreds of toys delivered to each community for the organizations to later distribute as part of their annual Christmas gift distributions. Instead of a sleigh full of toys, Saturday, Santa hauled toys in a custom painted Christmas-red boxcar #1225. At a safe, social distance, the public admired the century-old-train and dozens of children dropped off their letters to Santa (letters will be forwarded to the North Pole).

“People are stressed and unsure how they will put gifts under the Christmas tree this year,” said Rachel Terlizzi, Director of Community Impact for United Way in Martin County. “U.S. Sugar’s very generous donation of toys for our community eases that worry.”

Families in need of gifts this holiday season are encouraged to contact their local chapter of Toys for Tots. If you are interested in providing an unwrapped present, please visit Toys for Tots online.https://www.toysfortots.org/

U.S. Sugar Statement on Motion to Dismiss Baseless Lawsuit Against Florida Farmers

Clewiston, FL— Judy Sanchez, Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at U.S. Sugar, issued the following statement on the company’s motion to dismiss filed in response to a baseless lawsuit brought against sugarcane farmers:

“Publicly available air quality monitoring data maintained by the State of Florida has shown, and continues to show, that the Glades communities have some of the best air quality in the state. This is a science-based fact, supported by actual data. The hypothetical, preliminary model included in the Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint is a nonsensical misrepresentation of reality and is a disservice to our community. This is unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected, given the historical playbook of those who willingly ignore data and use baseless claims to attack our communities.

“As farmers, we rely on proven science and data to inform our daily growing and harvesting decisions. Just as important, we live in this community and take very serious our responsibility to be good neighbors and stewards of our environment. That is a commitment we will never waver on or compromise.”

A copy of the motion filed today in the Southern District of Florida is attached.

Background on Litigation:

Complaint Filed on June 4, 2019 (Public Document)

Defendants File Motion to Dismiss on October 18, 2019 (Public Document)

Plaintiffs respond to Motion to Dismiss on November 22, 2019 (Public Document)

Judge Rodney Smith Grants Motion to Dismiss in Part on May 8, 2020 (Public Document)

Plaintiffs File Second Amended Complaint on June 22, 2020 (Public Document)

Recent Media Coverage of Litigation:

Judge dismisses claims sugar cane burning injures Glades residents; pollution issue open,” TC Palm

Judge dismisses lawsuit over sugarcane burning,” Caloosa Belle

Judge Seeks More Facts in Suit Over ‘Toxic’ Sugar Cane Burns,” Law 360

U.S. Sugar Announces Promotion of Eric Edwards to Vice President, State Governmental Affairs

Clewiston, FL – This week, U.S. Sugar announced that Eric Edwards has been promoted to Vice President, State Governmental Affairs. In this new role, Edwards will be located full time in Tallahassee to focus on state legislative issues.  He will continue to report to Robert Coker, U.S. Sugar Senior Vice President for Public Affairs.

“We are proud of the work Eric Edwards has done to advocate statewide for our more than 2,500 employees, and his new role reflects our continued commitment to providing a strong voice for Florida’s farmers, farming issues and rural communities,” said Coker.  “I have no doubt that he will serve as an effective champion for the people of our company, our rural community and all areas of Florida agriculture.”

“While it is bittersweet to move my family from our Clewiston home, we’re excited to return to Tallahassee and help promote issues that will improve our state, our farming communities, and our ability to provide good jobs and produce safe, locally grown food in Florida,” said Eric Edwards.

Edwards, a Clewiston native, has served as U.S. Sugar’s Assistant Vice President for Governmental Affairs, a position he held since joining U.S. Sugar in 2016. Previously, served for 10 years in the State House and Senate including Chief Legislative Aide to former Senate President Don Gaetz.

Eric and his wife Jennifer have two children, Camilla (3) and Alex (1).

The People of U.S. Sugar Once Again Providing 5,000 Crates of Sweet Corn to Florida Families with Assistance from Pioneer Growers, Duda Farm Fresh Foods and Cheney Brothers

Clewiston, FL – As our vegetable harvest season winds down, the people of U.S. Sugar announced today they will make another large contribution of 5,000 crates of Florida-grown Glades sweet corn to families across Southwest and South Florida starting tomorrow in cooperation with Pioneer Growers, Duda Farm Fresh Foods and Cheney Brothers. The recently harvested sweet corn was grown by Glades farmers, packaged by Pioneer Growers and Duda Farm Fresh Foods and will be delivered by Cheney Brothers.

“Since our company was founded in 1931, giving back to our communities has always been an important part of U.S. Sugar’s mission,” said Judy Sanchez, Senior Director for Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. “With demand for locally-grown, fresh food currently high, we are proud to provide our neighbors with some of the sweet corn grown right here in the Glades communities.”

Following these donations, the people of U.S. Sugar will have distributed more than 11,000 crates of sweet corn, or nearly 530,000 ears of corn.   Our “Neighbors Feeding Neighbors” efforts during COVID-19 has helped provide fresh food and critical supplies to the people of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and Martin Counties.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the people of U.S. Sugar have also provided hand sanitizer and N95 masks for healthcare employees and first responders, green beans for area churches and food banks, and hot meals for the people of South Bay, Belle Glade, and Pahokee. Additionally, U.S. Sugar recently provided more than 250 of its employees with nearly 2,000 pounds of meat thanks to a generous donation from its CEO, Robert Buker, Jr.

Starting tomorrow, Floridians may pick up free sweet corn at the following locations:

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Royal Palm Beach – 8:00 AM

Address: Royal Palm Commons

11600 Poinciana Blvd, Royal Palm Beach, FL 33411

Belle Glade – 9:00 AM

Hand Park

500 W Canal St., Belle Glade, FL 22430

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Fort Myers/Lehigh Acres – 10:00 AM

Address: Varsity Lake Middle School

801 Gunnery Rd. N, Lehigh Acres, FL 33971

LaBelle – 10:00 AM

Address: Christ Central Church

540 1st Ave, LaBelle, FL 33935

Moore Haven – 11:00 AM

Address: Doyle Conner Building

900 US-27, Moore Haven, FL 33471

Clewiston – 1:00 PM

Address: John Boy Auditorium

1200 W C Owen Ave, Clewiston, FL 33440

Friday, May 8, 2020

Greenacres – 8:00 AM

Address: Greenacres Community Center

501 Swain Blvd, Greenacres, FL 33463

Indiantown – 12:00 PM

Address: Holy Cross Catholic Church

15939 SW 150th St, Indiantown, FL 34956

Stuart – 2:00 PM

Address: Martin County Fairgrounds

2616 SE Dixie Hwy, Stuart, FL 34996

About Pioneer Growers

For more than 65 years Pioneer Growers has been known for quality, service, and food safety excellence. Our local, fresh vegetables are shipped throughout North America and the world. Pioneer Growers is one of the largest distributors of sweet corn in the industry. In addition to our sweet corn, we are known for high quality green beans, radishes, celery and cabbage. 

About Duda Farm Fresh Foods

Starting out as a humble celery farm in 1926, DUDA’s business operations today include Duda Farm Fresh Foods, one of the world’s leading producers and suppliers of celery and other quality fresh and fresh-cut vegetables and citrus; The Viera Company, a highly regarded community developer with fully-integrated real estate operations including Viera Builders, a residential home builder; as well as Duda Ranches, manager of DUDA’s agricultural operations including sod, sugarcane, citrus and cattle.

About Cheney Brothers

We insist upon top quality products from nationally recognized manufacturers. Our broad inventory consists of more than 64,000 stocked items, from gourmet to everyday. Never content to rest on our laurels, we strive to continuously improve and innovate our products and services. This commitment to excellence has served our customers well for more than 90 years, and continues to serve as our standard for success.

We understand that our customers rely on accurate and prompt deliveries. Our technological systems ensure that every order reaches customers on time and in optimal condition. Our state-of-the-art warehousing systems process every order with precision. A fleet of modern, temperature-controlled delivery trucks is equipped with satellite positioning technology to provide customers with faster, more efficient deliveries. These advances inspire customer confidence and satisfaction, which has been our goal since 1925.

About U.S. Sugar

U.S. Sugar is a farming company that grows and processes sugarcane, citrus, green beans, sweet corn and other vegetables. The company was founded in 1931 by Charles Stewart Mott, a visionary leader who hailed from a long line of farmers. Since the beginning, our company’s success has been rooted in traditional farming values and respect for the land. For more information, please visit www.ussugar.com.

The People of U.S. Sugar Announce Partnership with Sugar Sand Distillery to Distribute Sugarcane-Based Hand Sanitizer to Employees and Most Vulnerable Members of Glades Communities

Clewiston, FL – In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the people of U.S. Sugar are working to provide local employees and the most vulnerable members of the Glades communities with hand sanitizer produced by Sugar Sand Distillery in Lake Placid to help stop the spread of the virus. The company announced today it is providing up to 1,200 units of hand sanitizer to members of the local communities and its employees in the workplace, who are part of the nation’s “critical infrastructure” of harvesting and processing food according to recent U.S. Department of Homeland Security guidelines. The company will provide hand sanitizer to senior centers in LaBelle, Clewiston, Belle Glade and Pahokee. The hand sanitizer was made at Sugar Sand Distillery in Lake Placid, which uses sugarcane molasses to distill alcohol used in its hand sanitizer.

“In times of crisis, you can always count on the resourcefulness of farmers to help solve problems as they arise,” said Judy Sanchez, U.S. Sugar’s Senior Director for Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. “Whether its hurricanes, economic downturns, or even global pandemics, we are all in this together and are proud to serve our local communities during their time of need. We are taking care of our families, because after all, we live here too.”

“Sugarcane is a powerful plant, and recognizing the increased demand for hand sanitizer, Sugar Sand Distillery has shifted its focus away from making spirits to helping fulfill a vital need in our region,” said Don Davies, founder of Sugar Sand Distillery. “The partnership between U.S. Sugar and our distillery promotes healthy habits that can help save lives.”

“We appreciate our friends at Sugar Sand Distillery for their resiliency in turning sugarcane into a helpful use that may help product the most vulnerable against the spread of the coronavirus, Sanchez added.”

Starting this week, the people of U.S. Sugar began distributing hand sanitizer to local nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Glades area. These facilities include the Oakbrook Health and Rehabilitation Center in LaBelle, Clewiston Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Quiet Waters Senior Living and West County Senior Center in Belle Glade, and Glades Healthcare Center in Pahokee.

The hand sanitizer produced by Sugar Sand Distillery consists of up to 70 percent alcohol, which is the equivalent of 140 proof. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines recommends using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol in addition to avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Recently, U.S. Sugar also announced a multi-year partnership with The Glades Initiative, a Belle Glade-based community service organization that assists local residents with job placement, social services, and feeding programs. The Company is providing resources in support of The Glades Initiative’s area food services throughout the Glades region.

About U.S. Sugar

U.S. Sugar is a farming company that grows and processes sugarcane, citrus, green beans, sweet corn and other vegetables. The company was founded in 1931 by Charles Stewart Mott, a visionary leader who hailed from a long line of farmers. Since the beginning, our company’s success has been rooted in traditional farming values and respect for the land.

About Sugar Sand Distillery

Opened in April 2018, Sugar Sand Distillery is an estate-grown sugarcane farm distillery. Nestled in the middle of a 10-acre sugar cane farm, Sugar Sand Distillery is a true farm-to-bottle operation producing small-batch rum, whiskey, vodka, limoncello and moonshine. The distillery was born from a desire to incorporate the love of farming with the love of producing true handcrafted spirits.

Originally conceived in 2017, founder Don Davies began experimenting with the processes of making mash and home distilling with sugarcane. As friends and family raved and then began requesting refills, Don discovered a deepening love for the process and, of course, the finished product. As he began researching craft distilleries and the growing market for such operations, the dream of Sugar Sand Distillery was born.

Note: Pictured is Communications Director Ryan Duffy with a sample of the sugarcane-based hand sanitizer and Community Relations Manager Brannan Thomas delivering supplies to the West County Senior Center in Belle Glade.

Dumping of Brazilian and Mexican Juice Causes Southern Gardens to Cease Processing Citrus

Southern Gardens Citrus Processing Corporation announced today that it will no longer process fruit at its facility in Hendry County, Florida.  Beginning with the 2019-20 season, Southern Gardens will have its fruit processed at another facility and bring that juice back to its facility in Hendry County for storage in order to continue to supply its customers. 

Southern Gardens will realign its business model and continue to ship juice and serve its customers. The company will maintain its citrus groves, nursery and research operations. 

READ MORE from Citrus Industry

Florida plant squeezed, no more juice processing

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — One of only a handful of orange juice-processing plants left in Florida stopped processing fruit Tuesday in yet another sign of the havoc that imported juice, diseases and Hurricane Irma have had on the fortunes of the state’s signature crop.

Officials at U.S. Sugar-owned Southern Gardens Citrus announced the end of processing at its plant in southwest Florida a month before the start of the next growing season in Florida.

Southern Gardens will have its fruit processed at other plants. It will bring the juice back for storage and then distribution to its customers. Shipping, growing and research operations also will continue at the plant, company officials said.

READ MORE from the Associated Press