A legal reckoning for Big Sugar, decades in the making

For 50+ years, the sugar industry in Florida has wreaked havoc on our waterways and Everglades. But it has also knowingly employed a toxic process called pre-harvest burning, in order to reduce their costs in the harvesting of sugarcane, inflicting harm to those who breathe the air.

This poisonous practice sends smoke and ash blanketing communities, seeping into homes, schools, and public buildings in Pahokee, Belle Glade and South Bay. The air, thick with smoke and noxious fumes can lead to asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems. These carcinogens in the air can be toxic for people of all ages, but are especially dangerous for children and the elderly. 

Florida Crystals and US Sugar have had the technology to eliminate the burning of cane, using a mechanical process referred to as green harvesting – a clean and sustainable practice that doesn't send toxic smoke and carcinogenic ash into the air to blanket homes and property.

Countries across the globe, including Australia and Brazil, have outlawed the practice. Yet, the power of the sugar baron has allowed it to continue in Florida.

We have spoken out about this practice for years. Finally, and thankfully, a federal class-action lawsuit brought by the Berman Law Group might just hold them accountable to the poor communities surrounding Lake O who've suffered through this filthy business practice.

Belle Glade native son, Fred Taylor, former UF and NFL great, says it perfectly: “They've made a fortune on that soil there, but all of the resources haven't been put back. You know, the fortune they've made from the soil hasn't been put back into Belle Glade."  

We'll be watching as this lawsuit progresses. And, as always, sharing with you the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Stick with us! 

Kimberly Mitchell
Executive Director 

Federal Lawsuit Filed to End the Powerful Florida Sugarcane Industry’s Vast Economic, Environmental and Health Damages to Poor Communities

Human beings, our air, water and waterways and America's Everglades are being sacrificed at the hands of the subsidized Fanjuls of Florida Crystals and the Motts of US Sugar. Sickening and avoidable.

Watch now: Federal class action filed against Big Sugar

Don’t you love it when the chips are down, backs against the wall, and the cavalry arrives?

Five scientists, three women and two men, are now serving as mounted troops whose mission it is to prioritize solutions so we can EXPEDITE nutrient pollution reductions in Lake O and both coasts of Florida. 

June 12, 2019: Blue-Green Algae Task Force Inaugural Meeting

“In a nutshell, the farmers in the EAA expect us to keep them dry when everything is too wet and keep them wet when everything is too dry. That’s great for them but the only way to do it is wreck the lake, the estuaries, the Everglades, and everyone in South Florida.”

Maggy Hurchalla, Point of View: Working together is the only way to tackle issue with Lake Okeechobee levels

Harmful blue-green algae appears to be blooming on Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River, according to the state's Department of Environmental Protection. Matt Yurus with CBS Miami reports.

Blue-Green Algae Bloom Found In Florida's Lake Okeechobee

We’ve posted about this human and environmental atrocity for years. Since 2004, there have been 171,000 burns in the Glades region, alone. We now have the perfect person, Nikki Fried, leading the agency - Department of Agriculture - that issues permits for the burns. She can work to deny any request going forward.

Sugar companies hit with federal class action lawsuit over health effects of cane field burns 

Florida Crystals and US Sugar play both sides. They do it in plain sight, like at this event in Orlando raising money for the Florida Democrats (oh, they give abundantly to Republicans, too).

They do it in ways that are harder to trace. They do it to hold on to the power they crave and the money to be made. When we see it, we call it out.

“This is my backyard, and I want my backyard back.”

WINK NEWS: Concerned citizens fight for rights of Caloosahatchee River

Until recently, too few politicians, local, state or federal, have been willing to stand up to Big Sugar and fight for the people, our waterways and the Everglades. Congressman Brian Mast is part of a new breed of elected official. Along with others, he continues to give us hope with his dogged determination to put an end to the status quo. See why in this Lake O Fact Check.

Watch now: Brian Mast Lake O Fact Check #13 

The FWC has sprayed this lake with so much poison in the last few years that almost all the natural vegetation is gone. They’re doing the same thing to Lake O and waterways all over the state. It’s hard to watch, but this video shows them spraying bird nests and birds. It needs to end. People need to be held accountable and YOU can help.

The culprit is the Division of Invasive Plant Management housed inside FWC. Ben Phillips is the director. Don’t call him - call his boss, Eric Sutton, at 850-487-3796. Email the Board. You’ll find them at https://myfwc.com/about/commission/commissioners/.

We are grateful to Mike Knepper, who spends his spare time chronicling and reporting on environmental destruction of Florida’s waterways.

Watch now: FWC sprays poison on Lake Kissimmee

Putting human health, the collapsing conditions in our rivers, estuaries, and Everglades ahead of subsidized sugar should have been done decades ago. Enter Brian Mast.

Congressman Brian Mast joins Michael Williams to discuss lake levels. The current paradigm holds water higher than necessary to accommodate Big Sugar. Communities in Martin, Palm Beach, Lee and Collier counties bear the brunt of the damage caused by this “arrangement.”

To the point: Brian Mast challenges sugar's status quo

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