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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The State of Our Air

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