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Nancy Smith

Damn Sugar Farmers Just Won't Do What They're Told

October 1, 2015 - 8:00am

What are you going to do with Florida sugar farmers? First they insist on keeping the land they own. How selfish is that? Then they go and meet annual Everglades pollution reduction requirements when everybody knows they're poisoning the planet.  

Now guess what they're doing? You probably heard: Those sons-of-a-seabiscuit are poisoning the air as well. They audaciously told the media Wednesday they're going to control-burn their crops -- even though the Sierra Club told them not to.

They're going to defy Sierra, the Everglades Foundation, Earthjustice, litigation-loving enviros of every description. 

What it's going to cost them is a lawsuit. (The Sierras have established a website, stopsugarburning.org.)

Sugar farmers say controlled agricultural burning allows more efficient sugarcane harvesting in the field and improves sugar quality and recovery in the factory. The residue contributes very little to the production of sugar, they say, and has little or no economic value.

What's niggling at the enviros is that they shared their best business advice: Instead of burning, they'll allow cutting away the leafy portions of sugar cane and using it to mulch the fields. Or they'll allow trucking away grassy material to burn as biofuel in processing plants that have more pollution controls. That's fair enough, isn't it?

If the 85-year-old Florida sugar industry was going to listen, it probably wouldn't have called Wednesday's phone press conference.

Barbara Miedema, vice president for the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, says the enviros' advice is plain not do-able: Trucking away sugar cane leftovers to burn at processing plants would lead to more vehicle emissions. And chopping and mulching instead of burning "is just not feasible" on South Florida's muck soils, Miedema told the Sun-Sentinel, because of concerns that the mulching would smother the next crop.

Sugar farmers -- the insolent devils -- choose to listen not to the enviros' business advice, but to the state Departments of Health, Environmental Protection, Agriculture and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, all of which have fairly vigorous burn monitoring programs and none of which claims the air is polluted during the weeks of crop burns, either within the agricultural area or in the cities along the coast.

Which is getting me quickly to the point:

For the $1-plus million since 2003 the Everglades Foundation purportedly has donated to the Sierra Club to make this court "case" happen -- if it's true, and there really is litigation around the corner -- this is going to be as absurdly silly and frivolous a lawsuit as I've ever seen. 

In the first place, Sierra representatives are  apparently going door to door in the most affected towns, drumming up "sick" people -- asthmatics and lung cases, mostly -- trying to create something they can pass off as a disease cluster. Try to picture it. This approach is no more scientific than Neanderthal Man was when he looked out at the ocean and concluded the Earth is flat.   

In the second place, Pat Dobbins, a former medical officer for the Florida DOH in Hendry and Glades counties, told the media Wednesday that Hendry and Glades have the second and third best air quality in Florida -- before, during and after the burns. The health community, she said, is “unanimous in agreeing that cane burning does not pose a threat to the health of the communities near where it occurs” and South Florida’s agricultural areas are “as clean as any other part of the state.”

In the third place, as Judy Sanchez, senior director of communications for U.S. Sugar Corp., said Wednesday, "Complaints (about the burning) have averaged less than two a year."

And finanlly, state and federal governments both use a prescribed burn program to maintain their park systems, preserves, forests and other holdings. It's an important part of managing natural resources.

In the end, the only thing a lawsuit about burning will do is feed more lawyers and further hassle sugar farmers large and small. But if you're a South Florida environmentalist, that's probably objective enough.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

Comments

Florida Bay has been a deadzone thanks to big sugar for over 20 years. The state instituted saltwater fishing fees on residents to study the problem but they spent millions on an office building in TLH to administer the program. But big sugar only exists because of the subsidy. Typical government, create the problem, invent a solution and then soak the taxpayers and shift the blame. Time for a tar and feathering of these bastards!

OK, here are a few facts. And these are real not hypothetical. Most of what is going on by Earth Justice (Sierra Clubs legal Arm) started a few months ago when Okelanta filed for their title 5 permit. This is something that all factories/industry must do in order to function if they emit pollutants into the air via any kind of "stack". DEP's Division of Air released the request as they must for a comment period. At the very end of the comment period Earth Justice submitted a paper more than 125 pages (Mostly attachments) demanding that the title 5 permit for the Okelanta Plant MUST include the burning of the cane fields as part of the emissions from the factory. DEP went through the normal process for a title 5 permit and following procedure submitted the appropriate documents to EPA. Earth Justice has now put the EPA on notice that they object to this permit, and the comment period for the permit ended 5 days ago. The EPA plans on approving the permit. The Law Suit that Earth Justice plans to file will not be against the growers but EPA and this will likely escalate to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta about 2 to three years from now - maybe sooner (doubtful) maybe later (Likely). If Earth Justice prevails, what will they accomplish? The Growers will be required in the future to include emissions from the cane fields in their title five reports. What will this accomplish - a little irksome to have to do all of those calculations based on the number of proposed acres burned but what else will this do? -- NOTHING -- BECAUSE as has already been pointed out on this blog, there are no measured exceedances of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in the EAA (Everglades Agricultural Area).

Left up to the 'devices' of the Sierra Club,.. ALL of us,..EVERY ONE of us (including sugar farmers and every other farm crop producer) would be relegated to, and living on, already existing "City" and "inner City" locations in order to preserve the wishful "pristine" condition of "Nature" and "nature's enVirons" . The "Sierra Club" has, over the years, amassed far too much power, money and political influence to the point where they are nothing more than a huge political LOBBY buying politicians and political influence from small towns, right on up to the Obama White House, and everywhere in between. They believe in reduced population, they believe in the United Nations "Agenda 21", they believe in no hunting or fishing (unless their members are the ones doing it, and all the rediculous stuff like "Save the turtles" (Like millions of turtles haven't been 'saving themselves' for hundreds of thousands of years by having cavemen "turning of lighted fires " within sight of a beach so turtles don't get confused... "Nature takes care of ALL of this stuff NATURALLY" (and no doubt laughs at the Sierra Club). So "Save the Turtles" folks...they make good soup). It's all about the "Food Chain" Folks;...and in case you've forgotten....We're AT THE TOP OF THAT FOOD CHAIN ! The Sierry Club is an antiquated "Old Boys Club" with antiquated thought processes enumerated in an antiquated 'club charter'... GO SUGAR !

Big Sugar does a good job of producing sugar here --the enviro-whackos exaggerate everything they see as threat to the environment. That is not the problem --fedgov protectionism forced by career pols who are on the tale is the serious problem. The Path to ending federal sugar subsidies is to end sugar price supports and import limitations that are punishing US consumers, killing jobs by chasing away candy and other companies that require a lot of sugar. What other countries do is up to them, not us. When they subsidize their producers that is to our benefit by reducing costs of everything containing sugar which is practically everything in the supermarket. Protectionism is counter-productive to the country where it is employed. And don’t forget also that the huge subsidies for ethanol, FedGov mandates for its use and protective tariffs are raising the cost of corn syrup, a main competitor of big sugar. The combination of tariffs and subsidies are disrupting the market in sugar at the expense of taxpayers and consumers.

I agree,..makes you want to get out the "torches & pitchforks"...

These farmers could care less. Your group had been bought and paid for by them. You want to talk about hypocrisy why did you group never do an article on the fraud of Rick Scott and the million tax payers paid for his lawsuit. Why did you not write anything is because you g ave been bought and paid for by the wealthy.

"Paul"... You are practicing "distraction"!...Are you a duplicitous politician?...Or a "card carrying" member of the Sierra Club? Either way, "We see through you"....

Commenters like you who don't address the story show you don't know how to answer. By your attack that goes off into space you have lost the argument. Stay on the subject. Learn how to fight if you're going to comment.

Nancy's point -- "Oh, those poor farmers, being attacked by the wicked tree huggers".........let's not call them farmers, but what they are -- greedy capitalists who have used unscrupulous , some would say criminal, tactics to destroyed free market for one of the most important (unfortunately) food ingredients, and pollute drinking water for thousands...............I, and I am sure many, many floridians, appreciate those tree hungers who continuously fight to restore and preserve our natural resources, including the AIR we breath.

Open the U.S. sugar market to imports, no tariffs, competitive pricing. Let's see capitalism work. And oh yeah----the food shopper will benefit too. But that is pretty close to "against the law". If it isn't completely against the law, then politicians will make it unlawful. Does anyone that has any political power know and understand the "big picture" and how it may benefit the consumers?

No, the dirty politicians must go, even if by the gun .

Can anyone in this conservation tell me how to capture woodworth's post and send to the FBI?

No, but I can tell you how to "lighten up" (after all, didn't you just tell me "Tree Huggers" protect my right to breathe?!? (Do you have the # for 'tree huggers' so I can find out if anyone is breathing more air than me...) [ I've been under the *gun* lately...Please don't report me to the FBI..I'm SO SORRY for taking you seriously "Diane" ]

US Sugar has to be one of the more monumental rip offs the bought and paid for politicians have foisted on an unsuspecting public. Of course they are an environmental disaster, of course they are prime Glades polluters with the fertilizers they use. One of the reason the pondscum suckers were supposed to pay attention to Amendment One and buy the sugar land. The fact is that if we did not have a HUGE tariff on imported sugar we would be paying about half the price we now pay for sugar in the store. Think Cuba. Think Dominican Republic. You could even think Haiti although probably not as whatever Negro is in charge would steal all the money. Certainly you could think Jamaica. Big Sugar has had a number of the pondscum sucking politicians on board for a long time. Nothing has changed. But if there is any chance at all that we might still be able to save the Glades, Big Sugar has to go. One way or another.

You had me until you through in that racist bit.

"Negro" is not a racist word "Diane"..It's a member of the traditional classical division of mankind; Negroid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid. "Negro" is only 'racist' when people like you "Diane" wield it to suppress thought and speech...tsk,...tsk...shame on you; read up on your Constitutional 1st Amendment...

Diane, was not trying to be racist, just telling the truth. When it comes to Haiti - well, without going back too terribly far we have Papa Doc Duvalier who stole about 2 billion and then retired to Paris, then we had Baby Doc Duvalier who stole another 2 billion and fled to Paris and now we have - forget his name at the moment, probably because estimates are that he only stole around 600 million and fled to Paris. Most of that money was donated for earthquake relief. Those poor souls are still living in tents. Idi Amin another favorite of mine, he stole around 1 billion and fled to Paris. Today we have Robert Mugabe who has looted Zimbabwe, bankrupted the country and will soon be in Paris, right after he flees in the night just ahead of the coup. If you would like to give me the name of one sub Saharan African leader that you want to hold up as a role model of black self government, I am all ears. Haiti is more corrupt than even the city of Hialeah, and it does not get much more corrupt than that. Of course, this does not mean we stop sending them more money. But, they could grow sugar.

All corrupt officials eventually end up in Haiti, that is why the "Clintons" have been in bed there with the current leader and have purchased their own mountain castle and are also in the gold mining business in Haiti.

Main leaders of Haiti President Michel Martelly Farmers' Response Party 14 May 2011 Prime Minister Evans Paul Democratic Alliance Party 16 January 2015

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nancy smith
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