Clean Air in Our Communities: State of Florida Monitoring Data shows Glades Have Cleaner Air than Costal Areas

Clewiston, FL – After experiencing a delay to the start of harvest due to extremely wet field conditions, U.S. Sugar has begun the 2023-2024 harvesting season, while also releasing the latest monitoring data measured by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The data once again shows the Everglades Agricultural Area and surrounding farming communities have excellent air quality, even better than on the coast.

The data, taken over a 335-day period from October 2022 to August of 2023 show Glades air is in the best of six categories listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 311 days – 93 percent of the time – and in the next-best the other 24 days. Additionally, a Princeton University-based study shows sugarcane crops contribute to cleaning carbon dioxide from the air.

“The Glades farming communities have excellent air quality throughout the year, whether measured during the harvest season, pre-harvest or post-harvest,” said Judy Sanchez, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at U.S. Sugar. “This has been true year after year, and it once again proves that anti-farming critics are simply wrong about the air in the Glades. “Professional-grade air quality monitors in every location also show that good, safe air quality is very consistent throughout the entire region, never falling anywhere near ‘unhealthy’ categories.”

Glades air quality meets all state and federal Clean Air Act standards for PM2.5, the amount of “fine particulates.” “Good” air has less than 12 particles per cubic meter.  The average for the Glades over the October—August time period covered in this update was 7.36 particles.  By comparison, Royal Palm Beach came in at 7.52 and Delray at 7.62.

Fine particulates in rural areas can come from car and truck exhaust, dust from dirt roads and asphalt dust, sand particles blown in from the Sahara Desert, smoke from all types of fires, fireworks, BBQs, emissions from lawn mowers and leaf blowers, soot, ash, mineral dust, pollen, mold spores, rubber tire dust, emissions from fume hoods and smokestacks, and construction dust, among others.

Excellent air quality is generally consistent throughout the region all year-round, but that was disrupted on October 3, when smoke from Canadian wildfires reached Central and South Florida. As a result, our local ”good” and safe air quality in the region moved into the “unhealthy” range. At 10:00 am in Belle Glade, the public air quality monitor showed an AQI reading of 161. “The air pollution readings in the Glades increased alarmingly as smoke from Canadian wildfires settled over our area,” Sanchez said.  “Air quality readings never came close to the ‘unhealthy’ range over the past year covered in this report before, during or after the Glades harvest season.”

On the battle against rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), the Carbon Mitigation Initiative at the High Meadows Environmental Institute at Princeton University reports that sugarcane has “turbocharged” efficiency to remove carbon dioxide from the air, calling sugarcane and corn “super-efficient workhorse crops.” Sugarcane and sweet corn are two of the major crops grown in the Glades farming region.

As we all live, work and raise our families together in these Glades farming communities, these numbers once again confirm what we see every day, that the air out here is “good, safe, and clean,” Sanchez said.

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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:

· 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:

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.

U.S. Sugar Announces 90th Sugarcane Harvest Season and “State of Our Air” Report, Confirming Air Quality in Glades Communities is Safe and Clean

Clewiston, Fla. – Today, U.S. Sugar announced it will celebrate its 90th sugarcane harvest season, scheduled to start tomorrow.  In addition, the company released its “State of Our Air” Report to the community describing the safe and successful 2019/2020 sugarcane harvest season.  This inaugural report compiles air quality data from the region and confirms the Glades communities’ air is safe, healthy, and clean.

“The Glades communities have some of the best air quality in the state,” said Robert Buker, U.S. Sugar President and CEO. “The health, safety, and wellbeing of our community continues to be a foundational commitment in everything we do. We hope this report will be a helpful resource for the families in our community.”

The full report, available here, compiles and analyzes publicly available data from two Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) air monitoring stations in Palm Beach County (one located in Royal Palm Beach and one in Belle Glade) that collect fine particulate matter (otherwise known as PM2.5). The report shows the air quality in the Glades communities was consistently better than suburban and urban neighboring areas.

  • This year, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) announced the “cleanest air on record” and that Florida meets “all ambient air quality standards.”
  • The data show the air quality in the Glades community is categorized as “good,” which is the best air quality classification; the Glades communities’ averages fell well within the required air quality range set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
  • The air in the Glades community is safer, cleaner, and of better quality compared to the West Palm Beach area; average levels of PM2.5 are consistently higher in the West Palm Beach area compared to the Glades communities (Figure 1); the 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.
  • Since the start of 2019-2020 Harvest Season, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has introduced two rounds of improvements to pre-harvest sugarcane burns; the most recent round included updated local zones based on community population growth and certification of all burn managers to ensure that sugarcane burning remains a safe, controlled procedure for our workers and our community.

“At U.S. Sugar, we go above and beyond what is required of us to protect our environment because we live here,” said Michael Ellis, U.S. Sugar’s Vice President of Strategic Environmental Affairs. “Our land, water, air, and natural resources are part of our legacy and promise for the future—something that we are all proud to be part of today.”

With the 2020/2021 harvest season set to begin – the 90th harvest season for U.S. Sugar – our commitment to sound environmental stewardship remains strong and our commitment to the community remains even stronger.

U.S. Sugar was founded in 1931 by Charles Stewart Mott, a visionary businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist.  He combined his interest in agriculture with sound investments in people, science and technology—a strategy that continues to guide the business today.  The heart of the company has always been its family of farmers and its commitment to community.