Stop The Burn

Our Campaign

Our movement is led by residents directly impacted by pre-harvest sugar field burning. Stop the Burn activists and leaders live in Palm Beach, Glades, Martin, and Lee counties. Our campaign officially began in 2015, and since then a dedicated core of community leaders has used the power of their voices to shine a spotlight on the injustice of pre-harvest sugarcane burning. Their advocacy has shone a national spotlight on what was once a little known regional issue. By speaking truth to power local leaders are applying pressure on both the sugar industry and their regulators in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The goal is to end the injustice of pre-harvest sugar field burning now.

Speaking Truth to Power

8/27/2020 Friends of the Everglades Stop The Burn Webinar

05/06/2020 Kina Phillips Poor Peoples Campaign Address


11/23/19 Kathey Sullivan Testimonial

11/23/19 Belle Glade Protest


4/18/19 Florida Poor People’s Campaign Hearing in Belle Glade

8/26/18 Forgotten City – Fearless for Florida


4/17/17 Belle Glade Press Conference

8/20/16 Kina Phillips Big Sugar Summit II Speech

Other ways to help

Or you can donate to support our campaign efforts here.

Stop The Burn Campaign Leadership Team

Fred Brockman
Sister Laura Cavanaugh
June Downs
Anne Haskell
Brittany Ingram
Elaine Lavallee
Catherine Martinez
Steve Messam
Elena Michel
Robert Mitchell
Kina Phillips
Shanique Scott
Kathey Sullivan
Richard Sullivan

Big Sugar Pushback

Photo-shopped billboard photo shared by sugar industry front group “SAFE Communities” on social media (there is no actual billboard).

Postcard #1 sent out to Glades residents in response to our campaign activity.

Postcard #2 sent out to Glades residents in response to our campaign activity.

The sugar industry has formed a counter-campaign front group under the banner of “S.A.F.E Communities” in response to our grassroots movement for environmental justice. The front group has attempted to frame our campaign as an anti-farmer conspiracy aimed at putting the sugar industry out of business. Rather than substantively addressing the real suffering and indignity pre-harvest sugar field burning has caused residents in and around the Glades, the front group has callously denied pre-harvest burning is tied to any negative impacts. Resources that could have been spent investing in a transition to green harvesting have instead been spent on insulting the intelligence of those who know first hand how damaging pre-harvest burning has been to their quality of life, their pocketbooks, and their health. Big Sugar has wasted their money on mailers, phonebanking, and even television commercials; every new scare tactic they use brings more activists to the Stop the Burn fight:

See more propaganda mailers here.

Big Sugar claims the Stop The Burn Campaign wants to put them out of business

Our campaign is about pushing the sugar industry to become a better neighbor to the communities in and around the Everglades Agricultural Area by ending the toxic outdated, and unnecessary practice of pre-harvest sugar field burning. Sugarcane harvesting can be and is being done in a much more sustainable fashion than the Florida sugarcane industry currently practices. The economic utilization of sugarcane trash can generate new sources of revenue for the Florida sugar industry, create new jobs for the surrounding communities, and end the public and environmental health threats posed by burning. Our solution is a true win-win-win!

If we are successful, the sugar industry will extract more value from their crops and provide more, not less, sugar industry jobs. Accusations that Sierra Club put the Hawaian sugar industry out of business are completely false:

Litigation in Hawaii related to a coal-fired power plant operated by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, it had nothing to do with sugar burning. See details here.

The Hawaiian sugar industry announced the closing of its operations prior to the suit even being resolved. The industry was much less profitable than the Florida sugarcane industry and had been losing profits for decades which led Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar’s parent company to switch to real estate holdings. See here.

There was widespread public opposition to pre-harvest sugar field burning in Hawaii but rather than investing in a transition to green harvesting, the Hawaiian sugar industry chose to pursue profits in real estate.


Big Sugar’s second favorite mantra is that the air in the Glades is clean

Despite the wide array of air pollutants released from pre-harvest sugar burning, there is currently only one official state-run air quality monitoring device located in the entire Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). That one monitoring device measures for only one pollutant, PM2.5, and is registered as non-regulatory; that means it does not meet standards required for its data to be used to determine compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). See page 20, table 4.2 here.

The accuracy of air quality monitoring devices can be affected by meteorological conditions that prevent accurate readings. Air quality ranking systems that rely on annual average PM2.5 measurements, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation rankings, can miss important short term fluctuations in air quality as is the case with pre-harvest sugar burning that takes place only on a seasonal basis: See measure limitations here.

Air quality monitoring in the Glades does not provide an accurate prediction of the pollution residents downwind of sugarcane burning are actually breathing. Air quality data rankings that pool data from the singular non-regulatory air quality monitor in the EAA is not reflective of the seasonal air pollution caused by pre-harvest sugar field burning.

Florida sugarcane not suited for green harvesting?

Sugarcane growers in Florida have often claimed green harvesting is not suited for Florida’s climate and soils or that accumulated sugarcane trash will increase, pests, diseases, and reduce yields. They also exaggerate risks of potential wildfires being caused from sugarcane trash. These claims have not been supported by research from the University of Florida IFAS research on green harvesting that has found no difference in yield between burnt or green harvested sugarcane let alone increases in pests or diseases (see here).