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.