WATCH NOW — The impact of the sugarcane burning season

https://youtu.be/aEbGypOzy1U?si=_7uP-mCsS0moJ5n7 From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: Q: What’s 20 times the size of Manhattan and poses a yearly threat to the people and ecosystems of the Everglades? A: Big Sugar’s massive cane-burning season, which wrapped up last month, after another eight-month stretch of sullying our air with smoke and ash. The numbers reveal the scope of the problem: During the burn season that ran from October 2023 to May 2024, more than 6,700 sugarcane fires were authorized by the Florida Forest Service, spanning more than 331,000 acres. That’s about 518 square miles of sugarcane fires in a single season. Most of Big Sugar’s fires blaze south of Lake Okeechobee, [...]

2024-06-18T10:59:45-04:00June 18th, 2024|Sugarcane Burning, Voice of the Everglades|

Sugarcane Burning is a Public Health Threat

It’s no secret that Big Sugar has long polluted our air and our water. Now groundbreaking new research has confirmed the human toll of the industry’s pollution. An independent study by Dr. Michée Lachaud — an agricultural, environmental and resource economist associated with Florida A&M University — has linked pre-harvest sugarcane burning to a 10.8% increase in physician-diagnosed asthmas cases. A new study has established a statistically significant link between sugarcane burning and increased asthma incidence rates among low-income Florida communities, which are predominantly Black. Conducted for Friends of the Everglades by Dr. Michée Lachaud—an agricultural, environmental, and resource economist associated with Florida A&M University in Tallahassee—the study draws its conclusions by analyzing data on physician-diagnosed asthma cases alongside [...]

2024-05-30T11:42:02-04:00May 7th, 2024|Action Alerts, Sugarcane Burning|

“DOH, where’s your concern? Issue a warning about the burn!”

What do we want? Health advisories! When do we want them? NOW! On November 1, Friends of the Everglades staff traveled to West Palm Beach to take part in a protest against sugarcane burning organized by the Sierra Club’s Stop the Burn campaign. Advocates for ending the burns stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the sidewalk across from the Palm Beach County Department of Health waving signs and calling in unison for the state agency to start prioritizing the public health of exposed residents by issuing advisories when sugarcane fields burned. Sugarcane fields burn in the Everglades Agricultural Area six to eight months of the year, blanketing nearby communities in ash that residents call [...]

2023-11-03T09:52:51-04:00November 3rd, 2023|Sugarcane Burning|

VIDEO: The injustice of sugarcane burning continues

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXeXCzpMCBQ Stop the Burn campaign leader Christine Louis Jeune painted a vivid picture today as she described what its like to race around the house closing windows and doors against smoke and ash when the smell from nearby sugarcane burns permeates the air. There are no formal warning measures in place to communicate health risks to residents — despite the experience being a common occurrence in Christine's hometown of Belle Glade during the sugarcane burn season which can span up to 8 months of the year. In other words, "after you've already been exposed is when you try to protect yourself," Friends of the Everglades Executive Director Eve Samples put it. Today's Friends of the Everglades LIVE featured important [...]

2023-10-25T17:01:41-04:00October 25th, 2023|Friends of the Everglades LIVE, Sugarcane Burning|

The case for sugar reform is resonating on Capitol Hill

In late July, we took our fight for sugar reform to Washington, D.C., where we met with members of Congress and their staff to educate them on the damaging impacts of the sugar industry that are supported via the U.S. Farm Bill.  We traveled across the U.S. Capitol grounds to meet with Democratic and Republican members of Congress from around the country who heard our plea for a change in the 2023 Farm Bill. Our case was made stronger by you and thousands of others who have signed the Sugar Reform Now petition. The leaders we met with were struck by the water and air pollution linked to the sugar industry in Florida. They listened to how the [...]

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to end damaging sugar protections in the Farm Bill

For the better part of a century, the U.S. Farm Bill has protected billionaire-backed sugar companies at the expense of clean air and water in Florida. We have an opportunity to change that now — with your help. Join the movement demanding an end to sugar handouts in the Farm Bill by signing the Sugar Reform Now petition!  How does the sugar program negatively impact us?  Through price supports and strict import limits on sugar, consumers and taxpayers pay more — while sugar barons get richer. Windfall profits generated by the sugarcane industry, led by Florida Crystals and U.S. Sugar, are then used to buy influence over lawmakers. This protects the status quo that forces South Florida taxpayers to [...]

Spotlight On: How the U.S. Farm Bill contributes to toxic algae in Florida

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmfsR-k3SA8 Here’s how sugar supports in the U.S. Farm Bill create toxic algae blooms Big Sugar has a very sweet deal.  U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals — which grow hundreds of thousands of acres of sugarcane in Florida — have long profited from federal protections in the Farm Bill, which is reauthorized by Congress every five years. The current Farm Bill expires September 30, 2023. Protectionist policies dating back to the 1930s benefit the industry through low-interest loans, price supports and import quotas, all designed to keep the price of sugar in the United States higher than it is on the global market. This cost, paid for by American consumers and taxpayers, creates windfall profits the industry then uses [...]

Everglades Illustrated: This is how many sugarcane burning permits are issued in a single day

Last week, Friends of the Everglades Executive Director Eve Samples took to the air with a volunteer LightHawk pilot to survey sugarcane burning in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee. It didn’t take long to find what they were looking for. Within five minutes of takeoff, they spotted several large burns, with smoke and ash blowing westward toward the Glades communities of Belle Glade, South Bay, Pahokee and Clewiston. Elsewhere in South Florida, it was a blue-sky day. But above the Glades, it looked like twilight due to the smoke, known to locals in the Glades as “black snow.” The burns produced so much smoke that the plumes showed up as rain on the LightHawk pilot’s radar. Keep [...]

Help us reform the U.S. Sugar Program

A sugarcane field burns in the distance in the Everglades Agricultural Area on Jan. 6, 2023, in Palm Beach County. We need your help. For decades, Big Sugar has received a sweet deal in the federal Farm Bill — despite its damaging influence on Florida’s water policy and pollution of our air through sugarcane burning. We have an opportunity to change that by urging lawmakers in Washington to end the sugar program in the upcoming Farm Bill. The Farm Bill, which is reauthorized every five years by Congress, covers issues such as agriculture, nutrition, conservation, forestry, and rural development. The federal government underwrites Big Sugar’s profits through the sugar program in the Farm Bill. It's an outdated [...]