During the harvest season, residents in and around the EAA have to deal with persistent ash fall from pre-harvest sugar field burning; they call it “black snow.” This leaves a layer of dirty soot on property throughout the impacted regions over the course of the six to eight month harvest season. Residents, business owners, and visitors to the area have to foot the bill to clean the soot off their homes, cars, and clothes. Homeowners have to regularly change their air conditioning filters to keep up with the build up of soot. Carpets, ceiling fans, outdoor furniture — literally everything that is within the reach of the ashfall — must be cleaned more often and more deeply by those who live and work there. The cost of this is borne not only by individual residents but the local economy as a whole.

The communities of western Palm Beach County, including Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee, have some of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in Florida. These Communities are also the most negatively impacted by the massive amounts of smoke and ashfall produced annually by pre-harvest sugar field burning. The pollution and clean up costs associated with black snow for up to 8 months of the year provides a major dis-incentive for outside investment and new businesses to open up in the Glades communities. The alternative of Green Harvesting sugarcane along with the new economic opportunities it brings provides a means for a new era of economic growth for the Glades communities and overall region impacted by sugarcane burning.

The harvest season also coincides with some of the best months of the year to enjoy the outdoors in Florida. Residents living in and around the EAA, especially those with respiratory issues, often have to remain indoors on days when pre-harvest burning takes place.

"There’s nothing like opening your door and being greeted by ash rushing into your home and over your body or going outside and seeing your car covered with it," he said. "I have to pressure clean my doors and porch at least once a year." "Pre-harvest burning is like having a bad next door neighbor who takes all his trash from his yard and throws it across the fence into your yard.," "We’re paying to clean up someone else’s trash."

- Belle Glade resident, Pastor Steve Messam