VIDEO: There is no environmental justice without social justice.

There is no bigger issue of environmental justice in Florida right now than the outdated, dangerous practice of pre-harvest sugarcane burning. During today's Clean Water Conversation, leaders in the effort to stop sugarcane burning near Glades communities around Lake Okeechobee underscored the dangerous burning season conditions and the rise in community action to put an end to the practice for good.  We owe a big thanks to Sierra Club's Patrick Ferguson, Belle Glade resident and Friends of the Everglades board member Robert Mitchell, and family nurse practitioner and Steering Committee member of the Florida Clinicians for Climate Action Carol Lindsey for sharing their wealth of knowledge with us. We covered many important details during today's Clean Water Conversation. If you missed the event today, you [...]

2021-10-29T15:35:52-04:00October 29th, 2021|Clean Water Conversations, Sugarcane Burning|

Everglades Illustrated: Florida’s sugarcane region has some of the smokiest air across America

Look at the map above. The data tracks the increasing prevalence of wildfire smoke across the nation. It’s no surprise to see parts of California and the Midwest are lit up in red, due to dangerous wildfires that tear annually through areas of dry vegetation. What stood out is the data represented in our own backyards in Florida. The data-mapping project from National Public Radio and Stanford University’s Environmental Change and Human Outcomes Lab found that parts of Palm Beach, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee counties recorded the worst smoke days in the United States — even higher than the wildfire-prone West Coast. That’s right — some of the most dangerous air in America is produced as a result of an [...]

2021-10-12T10:56:41-04:00October 12th, 2021|Everglades Illustrated, Sugarcane Burning|

Cane-burning season means toxic times for Glades communities

Autumn’s in the air. And in the Glades communities, so is toxic smoke and “black snow.” The sugar industry’s burn season began Oct. 1 and runs through May. During that time some 400,000 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area will be put to the torch as growers burn off the leaves and tops of the plants, leaving only the sugar-bearing stalk to be harvested. For the industry, it’s simple and economical. For the residents of the Glades, it’s monstrous. During burn season, flames can shoot 30 to 40 feet in the air, with plumes of smoke visible from space. State law prohibits burning when the winds might blow the smoke and soot toward the wealthy coastal communities east of the [...]

2021-10-06T13:29:40-04:00October 7th, 2021|Sugarcane Burning|

Everglades Illustrated: An industry exposed

  NASA satellite image of multiple sugarcane fires burning near Belle Glade, Florida, acquired January 5, 2021 See the plumes of smoke in the satellite image above? They mark actively burning sugarcane fields, a practice that’s been used for decades at the expense of exposed residents to make harvesting cheaper. The surrounding black squares show an expansive checkerboard of recently burned sugar fields in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Now imagine living in that area where skies regularly fill with dark smoke that causes eyes to sting and chests to tighten almost every day for six or more months of the year. In Glades communities, nestled south of Lake Okeechobee, that’s reality. Sugar companies set fire to cane fields spanning [...]

DeSantis had a chance to side with Floridians. He chose sugar.

Next time Gov. Ron DeSantis tries to claim he's not beholden to Florida's powerful sugar industry, don't believe him. DeSantis gave Big Sugar a massive gift April 29 when he signed Senate Bill 88, a measure which effectively indemnifies Big Sugar from legal action related to its harmful impacts, like the class-action suit filed by residents of the Glades communities who argue that sugarcane burning causes long-term health problems. This bill, now law, means only those who live within a half a mile of an agricultural operation can bring a legal case against detrimental impacts like the smoke from the burning fields, which can travel upwards of 20 miles. The old and young are particularly susceptible to respiratory problems caused [...]

2021-04-30T15:50:49-04:00April 29th, 2021|Florida Legislature, Sugarcane Burning|

Friends of the Everglades Asks Gov. DeSantis to Veto SB 88

Even as we learn more about the detrimental effects of breathing in the smoke and soot from the burning cane fields, it's clear SB 88 represents an invaluable gift to the sugar industry. Today, Friends of the Everglades sent a letter to Gov. DeSantis requesting a veto of SB 88. The bill that would enact sweeping new protections for Florida farmers, shielding them from "nuisance lawsuits," sits on Gov. Desantis' desk right now awaiting his signature. The bill effectively protects “Big Sugar” from legal action related to its harmful impacts, like the class-action suit filed by residents of the Glades communities who argue that sugarcane burning causes long-term health problems. Though smoke from the burning cane fields can travel for [...]

Bad bill alert: Right to Farm legislation poses a threat to Florida

When does the "right to farm" become the "right to harm”? On Tuesday the Florida House of Representatives' Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee voted 14-4 to advance HB 1601, which ostensibly seeks to boost agri-tourism and protect farmers from newcomers who want to curtail farm operations. But we believe the effect of the bill will be to disenfranchise the already disenfranchised, like those who live near sugar fields and find themselves hacking and wheezing when smoke from the burning cane wafts in their direction. The bill curtails their ability to sue, requiring they live within 1/2 mile of the farm in question to file a nuisance action. It also raises the burden of proof, limits damages and requires plaintiffs who [...]

2021-04-30T15:51:30-04:00March 30th, 2021|Florida Legislature, Sugarcane Burning|

ACTION ALERT: Tell Commissioner Nikki Fried to protect communities from sugarcane burning

Last week, residents and activists from the Glades communities spoke with us about the environmental and health injustices of sugarcane burning. Shocking imagery and compassionate personal testimony helped to paint a picture of the very real threat that looms over communities south of Lake Okeechobee 6-8 months of the year. The take-away was clear: impacted communities deserve immediate and lasting protections. At Friends of the Everglades, we've made a commitment to help shine a light on this flagrant example of environmental inequality and we'd like to ask for your help. Last week, we sent a letter to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to express our support for the expansion of real protections for communities most impacted by the pre-harvest practice of sugarcane burning, until such [...]

2021-04-30T15:52:27-04:00September 2nd, 2020|Action Alerts, All Posts, Sugarcane Burning|

Recording Available Now! Clean Water Conversation: Stop the Burn

We are grateful to all of you for joining us for our latest Clean Water Conversation: Stop the Burn. Today we covered the environmental and health injustices of sugarcane burning. As our guest Patrick so poignantly emphasized, the history of Everglades restoration is scattered with instances where the reckless pursuit of short term profit was allowed to outweigh that of longterm human health and dignity. This outdated pre-harvest practice is another shocking example of a way that this shortsighted thinking still prevails to this day. Our guests today reminded us of the importance of collectively raising our voices against injustices and lifting up each other's individual experiences, as real human stories are often the most effective tool for fostering change. We can't say enough about the [...]

Letter to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried: Stop the Burn

Almost half a million acres of sugarcane are burned for harvest every year in the fields around the Glades. Thick smoke looms, and ash rains down on houses, cars, and schools in communities south of Florida's Lake Okeechobee most months of the year. Insufficient protections for surrounding communities imposes air pollution, health risks, and economic stress on vulnerable residents — threats that are underscored by the current pandemic. Friends of the Everglades submitted the following letter to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to express our support for the expansion of real protections for communities most impacted by the pre-harvest practice of sugarcane burning, until such a time that pre-harvest burning is banned entirely.  Click here to view the letter in full.


Go to Top