Watch this video. Orange flames spit through the air as sugarcane leaves are burned from the stalk for harvest. Thick black smoke swirls and a single white bird wings its way above the fire.
Now look at this map. Each of those cones on the map indicates a sugarcane burn notice happening today and the direction of its plume. Dozens of these burns can happen on any given day from October to May, filling the air of surrounding towns with smoke and soot that can travel miles from the initial burn sites. At greatest risk are the children and the elderly residents of the Glades regions south of Lake Okeechobee.
And yet, just last year new state legislation offered a safeguard to the powerful sugar industry, protecting sugarcane growers by limiting legal action that residents could take when impacted by a list of farming practices including “particle emissions” to only those who live within a half-mile radius.
Friends of the Everglades has asked state lawmakers to repeal that provision during the ongoing 2022 legislative session, calling for support of a bill filed in response by Rep. Eskamani and Sen. Farmer that aims to give power back to the people who are harmed by sugarcane burning.
With just a month left in Florida’s legislative session, there’s not much time left. Hundreds of you have already stood with us in support of real protections for Floridians against the harmful impacts of sugarcane burning. Now is the time to double down on that effort. If you haven’t already, please click the button below to send a pre-formatted letter to state lawmakers urging them to support HB 6085/SB 1102 to hold sugarcane burners accountable for this harmful and outdated practice.
If you’ve already participated, please send this on to someone else in your network who would be willing to join the effort. Human health must be prioritized over sugar industry profits.