Since I grew up in Clewiston and I raised my kids on U.S. Sugar farmland, it came as no surprise to me that when I read the data in our recent State of Our Air Report, showing that our farming region has some of the highest quality air in the state, and some of the best in the nation.

Working as part of U.S. Sugar wasn’t just a career goal of mine, it’s been a family tradition. A member of the Stiles family has been a part of the U.S. Sugar family since 1935. My grandfather worked for U.S. Sugar, as did my father and mother. I was raised in Clewiston, right across the street from a sugarcane field. As a kid I used to chase rabbits through the sugar cane fields.

I’ve been lucky to work at U.S. Sugar since 1982, starting out servicing tractors and other equipment used to manage the land. I was fortunate to have a mentor who taught me about growing and harvesting sugarcane. He also taught me how to manage the land.

When I married and started a family of my own, we were blessed to raise our two children in the country on one of U.S. Sugar’s farms.  It was great place to live and a great way for kids to grow up.   

Now, my two kids are grown and married. They’ve started families of their own, and I’m a grandfather.  Here at U.S. Sugar, I’m now an Area Manager overseeing 47,000 acres of sugarcane farms in Western Palm Beach County.

The land, water and air are our most precious resources. We do our best to care for the land and to protect the water resources. The miles and miles of vegetation that is sugar cane contributes significantly to the quality of air that we breathe. 

While we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, plants do the exact opposite. Plants absorb light and carbon dioxide, and they produce pure oxygen.

That’s why it’s no surprise that the air quality in the Glades community is rated by the environmental agencies as “good,” which is the very best air quality classification. Air in our hometown is far better than that of the rest of West Palm Beach.

Average levels of PM2.5 are consistently higher in the West Palm Beach area as compared to the Glades communities. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines particles in the air as particulate matter (PM) and PM2.5 describes fine, inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s 2020 report continues to show that air quality in the Glades community is better than other areas of the state; particularly more densely populated, Northern communities.

Don’t take my word for it. Just check out the data. Take a look at our inaugural “State of Our Air.”

As U.S. Sugar begins its 90th sugar cane harvest season, I’m more proud than ever to be a part of this effort. We’re a company that’s committed to grow products that feed the world, and we combine science and technology to do that in the most efficient and most environmentally friendly way possible. Join farmers like me in helping do our part to feed America and protect farmland and the environment at the same time.  Learn more at www.ussugar.com/cleanair

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The State of Our Air

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