Nikki Fried’s ‘changes’ to cane burning served only Big Sugar

Acrid smoke from burning sugar cane fields still clouded the skies over Glades residents into the heat of June this year, raining toxic soot on their homes, playgrounds and sports fields, keeping children and other vulnerable residents indoors.

For a third year, the pre-harvest burning season had brought no sign to Glades residents of the “major” and “historic changes” to sugar-cane burning that Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced on Oct. 1, 2019. That day, Fried, who heads the agency with sole authority over agricultural burn permits and who now is campaigning to be the Democratic nominee for governor, called herself committed to “new approaches.”

The announcement Fried made was profoundly misleading on multiple levels, a Palm Beach Post investigation has found.

Read More Here...

Sugar cane fire pollution kills up to three South Floridians yearly, study finds

Two to three people in South Florida die prematurely each year because of exposure to pollution from sugar cane fires, a study released this month has found.

The study, led by Florida State University researchers, compared rates of death all over South Florida from illnesses linked to exposure to fine particle pollution from 2008 to 2018. Researchers examined the presence of pollution sources, which can also include emissions from other industries and vehicles. They isolated instances in which people were exposed to pollution from cane burning.

Data from 20 counties, including Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Collier, Lee, Polk, Hendry, Glades, Manatee and Sarasota were included in the study.

Read More Here...

Sugar cane burn season still blankets Glades with smoke after study showing it kills people

When the pre-harvest sugar cane burning season began on Oct. 3 with fires across 160 acres of Glades land, the Florida Department of Agriculture, which authorizes the blazes, proclaimed the day the start of “Florida Climate Week.”

It was perhaps an unintentionally ironic start of eight months every year that will see more than 8,000 fires across at least 300,000 acres of agricultural land send toxic smoke and ash into the air.

Setting fields of sugar cane on fire to burn off the plants’ unused outer layer and facilitate harvesting has been phased out in other countries on evidence that it not only contributes to climate change but also harms the health of workers and residents. It has been challenged in South Florida where the soot and pollution it produces predominately affect the Palm Beach County’s most impoverished communities where most residents are people of color.

Read More Here...

Pollution from sugar farming burns area residents

One of the world’s biggest sugar companies has been barred from selling in the United States for the past three months.

The U.S. imposed the ban on the Central Romana Corporation around Thanksgiving. News reports showed abusive conditions for its workers in the Dominican Republic, and a Customs and Border Protection investigation found indications the company used forced labor.

Read More Here...

Sugarcane Burning in Palm Beach County, Miami

A new investigation into the practice of sugarcane burning in Palm Beach County. A Miami private school decides to do in-person classes. And evaluating children's mental health during the pandemic.

Every year from October until April, stretches of rural Palm Beach County are regularly blanketed in black ash coming from sugarcane fields. Students have worn bags over their heads on their walk to school so they don’t breathe in the smoke.

Read More Here...

The Problem of America’s Sugar Cane Growers

Driving west on Florida Route 98 from Palm Beach, the smoke is visible before the warning signs. Near the Lion Country Safari (“Florida’s only drive-through safari”), there are, far across a vividly-green expanse, dark gray clouds climbing into the sharp-blue sky. A minute later, by the roadside, comes the announcement, courtesy of the state transportation authority: “REDUCED VISIBILITY POSSIBLE.” If the immediate danger isn’t present, it’s nonetheless clear: You’re entering sugar country.

Read More Here...

They’re killing people by doing this

Why students at a school 40 miles from Mar-a-Lago can’t go outside.

The simple act of breathing has been a challenge for residents of the Glades, a small rural community in Palm Beach County, Florida, for as long as 13-year-old Kil’mari Phillips can remember.

In third grade, Phillips’ teacher always kept the classroom’s blinds closed so her students wouldn’t see the fire. One day, she forgot.

“Do you see this?” a classmate, seated by the window, asked Phillips. “Am I crazy?”
Even from the far side of the classroom, Phillips could see giant flames engulfing acres of sugarcane fields outside.

Read More Here...

Sugar field burning plagues poor Florida towns

For residents of the Glades, a string of poor, predominantly African American rural towns dotting the southern shore of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, the beginning of the annual sugar cane harvest in October means the arrival of “black snow.”

“You’d hate to come down here when it’s snowing,” said Kaniyah Patterson, an asthmatic 12-year-old who lives with her mother and grandmother in a housing project surrounded by several large sugar cane fields in the Palm Beach County community of Pahokee.

“That black stuff irritates me,” Kaniyah said, sighing. “Sometimes I can’t breathe.”

Read More Here...

Our Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

We, the Stop The Burn Campaign leadership and Sierra Club, believe systemic racism is a cancerous tumor that if not treated will ultimately prove fatal to our society. We believe injustice perpetrated on one is an injustice perpetrated on all. Injustice to one community is an injustice to all communities. Disproportionate police brutality on communities of color, mass incarceration, discriminatory lending practices, lack of access to health care, disproportionate exposure to pollution, and many other forms of racial discrimination imposed on black and brown people reflect a system that does not value all lives equally. Our society and collective humanity will continue to decay until our laws, principals and culture place a value on all human life equally, regardless of race or income. This is why both the Stop The Burn Campaign and the Sierra Club firmly stand in solidarity with protests and movements across the nation demanding an end to systemic racism in its many forms.

Read More Here...

“Stop the Burn” Campaign Goes to Brazil

Billowing smoke, falling ash, heavy chemical fertilizer, and pesticide applications -- these are some of the realities of large scale sugarcane production here in Florida. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I had the opportunity to visit Brazil in June to tour the Native Green Cane Project, where pre-harvest sugar field burning and chemical fertilizer and pesticide applications were abandoned years ago and replaced with sustainable, organic production methods. I witnessed a completely different paradigm of sugarcane agriculture in action, one that works with nature rather than against it. I came back with a lot to share about how sugarcane should and can be grown in Florida.

Read More Here...