U.S. Sugar Announces Retirement of Robert H. Buker, Jr. as CEO, Kenneth W. McDuffie as Successor

Clewiston, FL – U.S. Sugar today announced its longtime President & CEO, Robert. H. Buker, Jr., the longest tenured CEO in the Company’s 92-year history, has elected to retire effective October 27, 2023, and that upon Buker’s retirement, Executive Vice President Kenneth W. McDuffie will assume the role as his successor.

President & CEO, Robert. H. Buker, Jr.
President & CEO, Robert. H. Buker, Jr.

“On behalf of the U.S. Sugar Board of Directors, I want to sincerely thank Bob for his dedication to the Company as our President & CEO over the last 18 years,” said Board of Directors Chair Ridgway White.  “Under Bob’s leadership, U.S. Sugar further solidified and expanded its position as a premier agricultural company. Ken is a proven leader who will build on the foundation Bob has established to fulfill the vast potential this company and its employees hold.”

“At 73 years old and after 41 years of working with and for U.S. Sugar, I am proud to say that I am leaving the Company with confidence knowing it is stronger, more resilient, has far better leadership, and is in an overall better position than when I began,” said Buker. “I am proud that I served with a Board of Directors with great values and vision, and with an amazing group of employees.”

Buker continued, “In my time at U.S. Sugar, we weathered hurricanes, freezes, droughts, diseases and many other obstacles created by Mother Nature. We also confronted legal, political and constitutional challenges from activists, and emerged from them not only victorious, but also with our integrity intact. Time has proven that our decisions have been to the benefit of our shareholders, our employees and our communities.”

Upon announcing his retirement in a letter to employees, Buker reflected on the Company’s many accomplishments during his tenure. Buker noted, “We invested heavily in technology and innovation, created an information technology infrastructure that is second to none, and set the standard for excellence in our agricultural and manufacturing departments – led by the best management team in the business. We have enriched our communities through civic improvement, volunteerism and philanthropy. Most recently, we acquired a second refinery and have continued to grow our business in a sensible way. Because of these endeavors, I know our Company will continue to flourish.”

Executive Vice President Kenneth W. McDuffie
Executive Vice President Kenneth W. McDuffie

McDuffie is a Clewiston native and most recently served as U.S. Sugar’s Executive Vice President. He previously served as Senior Vice President of Agricultural Operations from 2005 to 2021, leading efforts to modernize U.S. Sugar’s agricultural operations and develop one of the most technologically advanced and productive harvesting fleets in the nation. McDuffie first joined U.S. Sugar in 1992. He holds a bachelor’s in economics from Florida State University.

“U.S. Sugar is a special company rooted in history and traditional farming values, and I am humbled by the opportunity to lead a great team of agribusiness professionals,” said McDuffie. “I look forward to building on the successes accomplished under Bob’s leadership and leading the company into the future.”

McDuffie and his wife Melissa (Dusty) have two sons, Nick and Samuel, who are currently enrolled in college. His third son Landon and daughter-in-law London live in Stuart with grandson Preston.

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Statement from U.S. Sugar Regarding the Death of Joe Collins, Senior Vice President of Lykes Ranch

 “The entire U.S. Sugar family is deeply saddened by the loss of Joe Collins, who had a significant impact on Florida Agriculture. Joe was a personal friend and a business partner for decades. He was someone who truly exemplified the Lykes’ legacy of land stewardship and traditional family values. We will miss him greatly and never forget the contributions he made to our industry and broader community at large.”

 – Ken McDuffie, Executive Vice President of U.S. Sugar

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Clean Air Update: Government, Private Data Shows Glades Air Quality Remains Among Best in State

Clewiston, FL – The people of U.S. Sugar again are making the latest “Clean Air” update available to their community–showing public and private data from 2021 to 2022 confirming that the Glades’ air quality remains good year-round and better than in congested coastal areas. “Our farmers are committed to clean air and clean water while growing food crops millions of American families depend on every year,” said Judy Sanchez, Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for U.S. Sugar. “Our latest air update shows our community that not only is our air safe and clean every day, but it also remains cleaner than other areas of the state of Florida.”

In the midst of its 92nd harvest season, U.S. Sugar is committed to providing its neighbors and friends science and fact-based information about its farming operations. Our region is one of the most heavily monitored areas with a number of public and private monitoring sources showing the Glades farming communities enjoyed air quality in the “Good” range – the range with the best air quality according to EPA standards – in 306 out of the 324 days of monitoring in the Glades (days covered in this report). Of the 18 days in the very low range of “Moderate” readings, 11 readings were taken between June and September, which is after the harvest season was completed.

Summary & Key Findings of “Clean Air Update”:
· Glades air is consistently good year-round

· Our air quality at 6.45 PM2.5 for the 2021-2022 harvest season was better than year round at 6.6 PM2.5

· Our air quality is the same or better than on the urban coast

· The class-action lawsuit pushed by outside special interests was dropped after they failed to provide any evidence to legitimately challenge the air monitoring data from our community

· During the 2021-2022 Harvest Season there was no significant uptick in visits to local emergency rooms (Source: www.floridatracking.com/healthtracking/)

· Saharan dust, particularly during the summer months, notably affects overall air quality throughout South Florida

This update 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.

For more information and to read this and last year’s report, please visit: ussugar.com/2023-state-of-our-air/.

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.

Joe Marlin Hilliard (1943-2022)

Headshot of Joe Marlin Hilliard
Joe Marlin Hilliard

Pioneer rancher, businessman, and South Florida agricultural icon Joe Marlin Hilliard, 79, passed away surrounded by family and friends on August 26, 2022 in Naples, Florida. He was born in Ft Myers, Florida at Lee Memorial Hospital on January 18, 1943 to Joe Alexander Hilliard and Wilmuth Gabriele “Tippy” Yarbrough.

Born into a distinguished ranching family, Joe Marlin grew up on the famed Hilliard Ranch in Hendry County. Following graduation from Clewiston High School in 1961, he began his career working on Hilliard Brothers Cattle Ranch, which was founded by his grandfather in 1906 and later owned by his father and uncle in the 1920s. As he took over management, Joe Marlin would greatly expand upon the family business, enhancing the cattle operation with large investments in sugarcane, citrus, and vegetable production.

Joe Marlin Hilliard’s leadership skills over the years provided major advances for South Florida’s cattle, citrus and sugarcane industries. In 2017, Joe Marlin Hilliard was inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame—recognizing his life-long achievements and enduring efforts to secure the success of the farming and ranching industries that he loved.

His successful farming legacy will continue to build on its great heritage as Hilliard Brothers of Florida remains a family operation with Joe Marlin Hilliard’s two sons’ Joe Marlin II, Bryan, and his daughter Mary Elizabeth; all directly involved in different aspects of the business.

Along with his loving wife Barbara Jean, whom he married in 1985, Joe Marlin Hilliard was also an active member of the local community and his generous philanthropic efforts provided funding to numerous local and state organizations. A strong believer in education, he has funded the Joe Marlin Hilliard Endowed Scholarship at the King Ranch Institute of Ranch Management at Texas A&M, Kingsville and the Joe Marlin and Barbara Hilliard Scholarship at Florida Gulf Coast University and many others.
More importantly, he was a devoted Christian and family man who greatly valued family and friends. An avid outdoorsman throughout his life, Joe Marlin Hilliard graciously shared his love of hunting and fishing with friends and colleagues, extending invitations to join him on these adventures.

Joe Marlin lived on the Hilliard Ranch outside Clewiston for most of his life and raised his family there. He also had a retirement home in Naples, Florida. He was predeceased by parents Joe A. and “Tippy” Hilliard. Joe Marlin Hilliard is survived by his beloved wife of 37 years, Barbara, his children, Joe Marlin Hilliard, II (Chelsa), Mary E Hilliard Carroll, and Bryan Reed Hilliard, stepson Richard Parker and stepdaughter Alicia Snyder, and grandchildren Rana Hilliard, Joe A. “Jack” Hilliard, II, Madeline Carroll, Lily Carroll, Isabelle Hilliard, Bryan Reed Hilliard II, Isla Hilliard and Jessica Snyder.

Visitation will be held at Hodges Funeral Home in Naples on September 2, beginning at 1 pm. Services will directly follow. Internment will take place after the service at Hodges Funeral Home at Naples Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children

The People of U.S. Sugar Donate New Youth Sports Equipment to Children of Montura Community

Clewiston, FL – Representatives from U.S. Sugar joined community leaders and children from the Montura community recently to announce the donation of two recreational soccer goals as well as four basketball hoops to Montura’s Club House. The donations were made possible through generous support from the people of U.S. Sugar.

U.S. Sugar interns Camber Pope and Kalei Sutton join Montura community leaders for delivery of new soccer goals provided by the people of U.S. Sugar
U.S. Sugar interns Camber Pope and Kalei Sutton join Montura community leaders for delivery of new soccer goals provided by the people of U.S. Sugar

“This donation is exciting for the youth of Montura, which will now have new equipment to use for youth basketball and soccer,” said Juan Mata, Chairman of the Central County Water Control District, which oversees operations at the Montura Club House. “Sports bring our local families together, so we are grateful to have new equipment thanks to the generosity of U.S. Sugar.”

The Montura Club House provides a safe space for people of all ages in the community to come together and be active together enjoying sports, pool time, and other activities especially during summertime when a youth summer camp is held every year. The new equipment will help the community play host to future basketball and soccer tournaments, which attract athletes from throughout Hendry County.

“Sports are at the heart and soul of the Montura community, so when we learned new equipment was needed, we were happy to provide it,” said Brannan Thomas, Community Relations Manager for U.S. Sugar. “I look forward to seeing what opportunities this new equipment will provide for area kids – and adults – and how it will bring the community together.”

U.S. Sugar leaders Brannan Thomas, Ryan Duffy and Elaine Wood join Montura leaders and children for field day at Montura Summer camp at the Montura Club House.
U.S. Sugar leaders Brannan Thomas, Ryan Duffy and Elaine Wood join Montura leaders and children for field day at Montura Summer camp at the Montura Club House.

U.S. Sugar leaders Thomas, Director of Corporate Communications Ryan Duffy and Chief Financial Officer Elaine Wood were on hand Friday as the new sports equipment was installed. Local Hendry County Commissioner Ramon Iglesias, whose district includes Montura, said many local families will put the equipment to good use immediately. “It’s not every day our local children receive new sports equipment,” said Iglesias. “We are incredibly thankful to U.S. Sugar for help making this happen.”

About U.S. Sugar

U.S. Sugar is a recognized leader in farming and food production, owned primarily by its employees and charities set up by its founder, Charles Stewart Mott. The Company farms more than 240,000 acres of the most productive farmland in the United States. Its consolidated, automated milling and refining facility in Clewiston, Florida is the world’s largest vertically integrated sugarcane milling and refining operation — capable of processing 42,000 tons of sugarcane per day and producing ~850,000 tons of refined sugar per year. In addition to sugarcane farming and processing, the company also grows citrus, sweet corn, green beans and other fresh produce. For more information, visit www.ussugar.com and follow on Twitter,  Facebook and Tik Tok.

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The People of U.S. Sugar to be featured on Upcoming Episode of Mike Rowe’s “How America Works”

For Immediate Release
June 1, 2022

The People of U.S. Sugar to be featured on Upcoming Episode of Mike Rowe’s “How America Works”

Clewiston, FL – Mike Rowe’s How America Works pays tribute to some of the nation’s most vital industries while providing viewers a behind-the-scenes look at how these industries work and contribute to America’s infrastructure. Rowe’s enthusiasm for showcasing these often overlooked professions led him to America’s sweetest town to dive into one of America’s sweetest industries: sugarcane farming and processing. To help show viewers how sugarcane is grown, harvested, and processed before the sweet stuff ends up on your table, U.S. Sugar welcomed Rowe’s film crew to spend a day in the life of our employees.

Mike Rowe

“Like many rural towns in America, Clewiston provides the muscle for ensuring staples of our food supply like sugar are affordably and widely available on store shelves, in restaurants and in some of the many favorite foods American families consume daily,” said Mike Rowe, Host of How America Works. “This episode will provide viewers with an up close and personal look at the hard and oftentimes complicated work that goes into producing your food every day.”

“In addition to growing fresh fruits and vegetables millions of Americans depend upon during the winter months every year, our employees are dedicated to sustainably providing sugar that is commonly used in a variety of food products,” said U.S. Sugar spokeswoman Judy Sanchez. “We’re excited at the opportunity to have Mike Rowe share our employees’ stories with a national audience.”

The episode on Florida sugarcane farmers will showcase some of the many challenges employees face on a daily basis as they help to sustainably grow, harvest, transport, mill, refine and ship cane sugar from Clewiston, Florida to customers around the country. The episode will additionally feature U.S. Sugar’s co-generation plant, which is powered by bagasse, or sugarcane fiber, and generates enough surplus electricity annually to power up to 25,000 homes in South Florida.

Five U.S. Sugar employees will be featured in the episode. These include Jay Baez Jr., Production Supervisor; Leonard Sampson, Mill Worker; Phillip Ford, Roll Welder; Billy Dyess, Assistant Refinery Manager of Operations; and Orlando Martinez, Team Leader. U.S. Sugar prides itself on its people and these five have been with U.S. Sugar for quite some time, ranging from 10 to 31 years in the business. Many of U.S. Sugar’s employees have been with the company for generations. Dyess began his time at U.S. Sugar with his father, Fred Dyess Sr. who helped commission the refinery, while Sampson has been joined by his son during his time at U.S. Sugar. While these five may be just a small representation of the people of U.S. Sugar, they show the dedication, enthusiasm, and stewardship our employees have for the communities where we live, work and raise our families.

The episode will air on Fox Business on Monday, June 13 at 8 PM.
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U.S. Sugar Salutes Longtime Sugarcane Growers John Stitt and John Hundley For Tonight’s Induction into Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame

Clewiston, FL – The people of U.S. Sugar today recognized two of their long-serving independent sugarcane growers on their induction into the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame. The inductees, John Stitt of Stitt Farms in Clewiston and John Hundley of Hundley Farms in Belle Glade, have been among U.S. Sugar’s family of independent growers for many decades.

“Mr. Hundley and Mr. Stitt are some of the finest individuals you will find in Florida agriculture,” said Ken McDuffie, U.S. Sugar’s Executive Vice President. “On behalf of our employees, families and community, we offer our sincere congratulations on this well-deserved honor.”

In addition to U.S. Sugar’s own farmers, the company partners with 34 independent local growers that send their cane to its Clewiston mill.

About John Hundley

John L. Hundley, 2022 Inductee

Hundley has been an active part of Florida’s agricultural community for more than five decades. A native of Pahokee, he worked on his father’s farm before founding Hundley Farms, Inc., with his wife, Patsy. The enterprise began on 400 acres of leased land, growing sweet corn and radishes. Today the operation consists of about 16,000 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), central Florida, and Bainbridge, GA, where they grow sugarcane, sweet corn, green beans, radishes, cabbage, field corn, rice, cattle, cotton, peanuts, soybeans and assorted winter produce. The Hundley Farms team now includes their son, John Scott Hundley, their daughter and son-in-law, Krista and Eric Hopkins, and grandson Cooper Hopkins.

A longtime member of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, Hundley has been on its board of directors for 34 years and served as its chairman of the board for seven years. He has served on the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District and has been active in numerous other groups.

About John Stitt

John Stitt, 2022 Inductee

Stitt realized early in his career that the agricultural ecosystem in Southwest Florida was vastly different from that in Central Florida and the region around Lake Okeechobee. He saw a great need for research in beef cattle pastures, citrus, and sandland sugarcane production and, through his vision, led to the development of the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee. Today, the center provides cutting-edge research for citrus, vegetables, water quality, soil science, and weed science.

In addition to serving on numerous advisory committees to the Immokalee center, Stitt has been extensively involved in industry organizations, including the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and Florida Farm Bureau. Stitt led the charge to establish the South Florida Agricultural Council, and with the cooperation of the legislative delegation, the council secured $2.39 million in funding for construction. In 1988, the Board of Regents, the UF/IFAS leadership, and the council developed a five-year plan to complete the staff funding. The result was the opening of a fully-funded research center staffed with a director and 12 researchers.  Stitt and his wife Sandy still reside on Stitt Ranch, just outside of Clewiston, Florida.

The induction ceremony will be held at the Florida State Fair’s Agricultural Hall of Fame Banquet in Tampa this evening.

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Celebrating Diversity: How Sweet It Is!

This Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 through October 15), we have much to celebrate at U.S. Sugar. The Hispanic Americans who live and work in our community have contributed so much to our company as well as our community and our state. 

Two members of our U.S. Sugar family were featured on WPBF West Palm Beach: Jesus Hernandez and Eneyda Rios. These two represent the many Hispanic-American leaders and workers who are essential to our operations. 

Hernandez came from humble beginnings in Mexico. He started as an equipment operator at U.S. Sugar more than three decades ago. Now, as assistant harvest manager, he plays a critical role in the company’s 90th Anniversary sugarcane harvest season. 

His career at the company has enabled him to achieve his dreams. As a father of three, he is proud to have sent all of his kids to college.  While he travels to Mexico every summer for vacation, Clewiston is his home. “I love this country…. And its freedom.”

Jesus Hernandez and family

Rios works at U.S. Sugar headquarters as an executive assistant to our Senior Vice President of Sugarcane Operations.  She was born in El Salvador and came to the United States in 1985. Her mother worked in sugarcane farming first, while Rios began her career with the company as a security attendant in the Southern Gardens Citrus guardhouse 20 years ago. 

“Coming to this country,” said Rios. “It’s been the best thing that ever happened to us. This is where I plan to spend the rest of my life.”

Like Hernandez, Rios was also able to send her four children to college. Her son is now serving America as a soldier in the U.S. Army.  She believes that hard work, showing up every day, and being responsible allows you to have everything you want in life.

Enedya Rios family

My husband fled Cuba with his family when he was a baby following the Communist takeover; so my own family places great value on the many opportunities and blessings found here in America and in the Glades. My youngest son married a beautiful college classmate from Texas whose family hailed from El Salvador.  So I have both a personal and professional appreciation for the richness and strength that comes from melding different cultures, ideas, ways of thinking, and traditions from many different countries, regions, beliefs and heritages.  

It is no stretch to say that U.S. Sugar is truly a melting pot with people from countries all over the world.  Sugar is produced in more than 100 countries, and men and women with expertise in many aspects of the business have been attracted to our close-knit farming community over the years.   In our company and in our rural communities as we work and strive for common goals, it is easy to discover that we generally have more similarities than differences.  Mainly, we share the core values of faith, family, tradition, hard work, and a love for our way of life.   Raising food and families.

So this month, we are celebrating our diversity and honoring the value each and every single person brings to our U.S. Sugar family and to our Glades communities.   This rich diversity makes our communities better places to work, live and raise our families.  Muchas Gracias!

Glades farmers committed to community and environment

*Note, the Palm Beach Post refused to run our response as submitted.

Glades farmers may be a small percentage of the county population but they help ensure our country and its families have food on the table. In the rural farming region, our farmers play an even more important role as a critical community partner.

In a 7,000-plus word story published in the Post last Sunday, an article on sugarcane harvesting practices ran with little input from its main subject – farmers.  Absent from pages of this year-long investigation were interviews with family sugarcane farmers, mechanics, mill workers, scientists, engineers and community leaders that did not fit what some would say was a predetermined narrative. All of us live in this community and among the fertile farmlands and sugarcane fields, yet this story was only interested in what a handful of Glades residents had to say.

While U.S. Sugar was contacted one week before the “deadline,” we’ve since learned that the story had already been written before we were asked for comment. A one-year investigation into the practices we deploy in our harvesting process – and the subject is asked to weigh in after the story is written?

As farmers, we rely on clean land, water and air for the health of our families and our crops. That commitment to ensuring the land we work is kept safe and healthy is often a multi-generational one — even for larger organizations like ours that have been farming this land for 90 years.

Contrary to what was reported, during the sugarcane harvest season, the surrounding counties do not show increases in hospital visits for respiratory issues. The latest data from the Department of Health shows that Hendry, Glades and Palm Beach counties are below the Florida state average for lifetime adolescent asthma.

In addition to public health data, farmers rely on decades of science and regulation set at the federal and state levels. Recent coverage disputed the EPA’s 24-hour standard for PM 2.5 without explaining why this time interval was chosen rather than the 10-minute intervals the authors preferred.

In 1997, the EPA evaluated hundreds of scientific studies to set the 24-hour standard for PM 2.5 (particulates). The 24-hour standard takes into account one of the greatest contributors to PM 2.5: automobiles. A 10-minute interval could create clear problems with readings that could spike if an idling car/truck is near a monitor for a few minutes. Or, here in a rural area, field dust being kicked up momentarily.

Over the past few years, sugarcane farmers placed professional-grade air monitors in several farming communities. That data, which we provided to The Post, was consistent with the data collected by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection-approved monitoring station. Importantly, all three data sets, including the one The Post procured, confirmed that the air in Glades farming communities is safe and considered “good” by EPA standards—the best category within the Air Quality Index.

Like other regions The Post cites, Florida farmers already mechanically harvest our crops and are continually improving our agricultural practices based on the best science and technology available. When Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried enhanced Florida’s agricultural burn program in 2019/2020, farmers agreed. These enhancements are blind to socioeconomic status and ensure every community is equally protected. Suggesting otherwise is disingenuous.

Farmers respect our neighbors by treating them with honesty, fairness, and a commitment to the environment we all share by ensuring that our farming operations follow the best available scientific guidance and strictest regulations.

Unfortunately, this same level of respect was not displayed in the story as most of these facts and voices were ignored.  To understand why, The Post should be transparent with readers and disclose to them the full proposal and application it submitted to ProPublica to secure outside funding for this story.

Our Commitment to our Home, Our Community, Our Future

Over the last year, we’ve seen the importance of community stewardship and the resiliency of communities throughout the country/world more than ever. A primary pillar of that community stewardship is commitment; a steadfast commitment to the women, men, and children who work, live, and grow up in the communities around you. U.S. Sugar’s commitment is a fundamental component of everything that we do, grow, or give back to the Glades’ communities, and beyond.

Unfortunately, the Palm Beach Post’s decision to print a story on July 8 regarding sugarcane farmers, fell far short of the level of honesty and commitment we have for our community. The story was a result of a paid partnership with ProPublica, the same activist, agenda-driven, online-only website that recently illegally published personal IRS tax information. The story selectively used data, studies, and experts that advanced the original, pre-determined thesis of the story effort – which was to put an end to the safe, highly regulated controlled pre-harvest burning practice.

What the story, Palm Beach Post, or ProPublica fail to mention is that the purpose and conclusion of this article was written well before these news outlets even began their reporting. The Palm Beach Post submitted a proposal to ProPublica applying for funding for this reporting which included an objective and conclusion – a proposal and application that both news outlets have failed to disclose to their readers. As result, ProPublica (which is privately funded and only selectively discloses their donors) paid Palm Beach Post $75,000 to have this story written and published in their paper – which masks who stood to gain the most from the article.

For the sake of transparency, the Palm Beach Post should release the proposal to show the true intentions of this “investigation.” A failure to do so continues to do a disservice to the communities around us.

Despite a year-long opportunity to learn more about the farming industry and community—which never stopped doing their part to make sure food was put on American families’ tables—the writer only reached out to the industry one week before the story’s deadline. Even after providing the Palm Beach Post and ProPublica with years’ worth of data from professional air monitoring stations in the Glades communities showing good, safe air quality, the outlets still decided to publish the work riddled with points and statements that lack context and are fundamentally false. And, for a year-long story about an entire region of farming communities, these “investigative reporters” actually spoke to very few people in the communities and only included those who supported their negative views.

The story also calls into question the authority and trust of publicly available data that is collected by local health departments and Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection. Now, more than ever in recent history, the trust and effort of our public health officials is of critical importance—and to call that into question with no underlying facts does a disserve to the community supposedly served by the Palm Beach Post. It is no surprised that you are already seeing a carefully orchestrated campaign of email blasts, social media pieces and will likely see letters, opinion pieces by paid activist throughout Florida telling you how “shocking” the story published in the Palm Beach Post is and that the findings should warrant change.

Not surprisingly, the Palm Beach Post story relies on data from amateur-grade air monitors they stuck in a Pahokee resident’s yard, not professionally set up or following the protocols outlined by the EPA. While they criticized state-provided monitoring in some detail, they failed to provide context or even an understanding of the topic for their own foray into air monitoring. A diesel truck going by, lawnmowers in the area, farm road activity, even a burst of plant pollen will result in short-term spikes in PM2.5 readings. Also, some of their reported spikes fall well outside of any sugarcane burn activities, which generally conclude by mid-afternoon. Anyone who knows the farming community, knows that controlled pre-harvest burns do not take place anywhere near 6PM in the evening.

Despite the activists’ paid coordinated efforts to the contrary, Palm Beach Post readers can take comfort in the fact that all public and private data (including the Palm Beach Posts’) ultimately provides the same results – that the air in our farming communities is safe, clean, and healthy. The same rings true for many of the surrounding urban areas. Our community of family and neighbors remain a priority each and every day. We live here, work and play here, and above all else, raise our families here. This is something that the Palm Beach Post and ProPublica reporters, the out-of-town activists, and others ignore in their attempts to twist the discussion of our farming communities and our quality of life. Why? Maybe because they simply do not understand,  choose to ignore facts, and mask their agenda-driven efforts behind a veil of “journalism.” These communities are the future of our business, our families and our communities, and most importantly, they are our home.

Rest assured, over the coming months we will undertake our own investigation to show the Glades’ communities the true intentions and motivations of stories like these. In the meantime, we invite you to see for yourself U.S. Sugar’s state-of-the-art operations and our commitment to the land, air, and community around; sign up for a tour