The Sierra Club is more concerned about making a point, not worried about effecting Floridians trying to make ends meet.
By Jacob Engels
Passion is a powerful thing. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it harms. As today marks 2015-2016 sugarcane harvest, the knives are out from impassioned, yet illogical environmental groups who oppose ANY & ALL progress. In this case… it harms hardworking Floridians.
Florida’s annual sugarcane harvest, which produces 16.67 million tons of sugarcane and more than 2 million tons of sugar, is expected to meet legal opposition from The Sierra Club – which has a long history of unfounded legal attacks on energy producers and farmers.
“This is nothing but another baseless attempt to take farmland out of production and destroy rural communities,’’ said Judy Sanchez, senior director of corporate communications and public affairs for U.S. Sugar. “Farmers’ greatest assets are clean air, water and land, and it’s ridiculous and irresponsible to think that we would do anything to jeopardize that.’’
The longstanding and environmentally sound practice of sugarcane burning, which is widely accepted and thoroughly studied by noted academics, has served as an indirect rallying cry for misguided crusaders who do not understand the implications their actions have on hardworking middle class families.
The Palm Beach County Health Department has found no medical studies indicating an increase in local hospital or health clinic visits because of smoke related to cane burning, and air-quality studies show the burning does not violate federal air quality standards. As far as regulation is concerned, the annual sugarcane burn is one of the most regulated practices in the state of Florida, according to a well placed source within the office of Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and the Florida Forest Service.
Each permit is approved, denied or issued with additional conditions based on field location, wind direction and other factors. Burns are limited to 40- to 80-acre blocks during daylight hours and generally last only 15 to 20 minutes.
The Sierra Club and other environmental groups funded and fronted by billionaire and convicted polluter Paul Tudor Jones have spread rumors for years that the practice is a public nuisance and unhealthy. However, according to records obtained by the East Orlando Post, the state receives less than two complaints a year over the past 11 years.
That is equal to one complaint per 6,000 burns. If you can show me one goverment program that has an efficiency rate that impeccable, I will send you $1000.00. It seems the environmental justice crusaders are again more concerned with “the cause” than they are with the facts.
“Cane burning is as much a part of our local culture as Friday night high school football. As someone that was raised to learn how to safely and efficiently burn sugarcane during harvest season, these baseless attacks are not only harmful to my own personal well-being, but also to my family’s farming legacy,” said Brad Lundy, a fourth generation sugarcane farmer from South Florida.
Cane burning has long been considered the most effective, efficient method for preparing crops for harvest. The burns remove the excess leaves around the cane stalks before they are cut and taken to mills for processing.
“Data has repeatedly shown that cane burning clearly does not pose a threat to the health and well-being of citizens in the neighboring communities,’’ said Pat Dobbins, former administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Glades and Hendry counties. “Our real concern should be our high rate of obesity, smoking and other behaviors that cause health problems.’’
Now, at this point you must be thinking…what the hell is The Sierra Club basing their unfounded legal challenge off of? The correct answer is NOTHING. They claim that leaves can be cut and left in the field, but this is simply not a healthy and safe option in South Florida because of the climate and soil. Attempts at successfully implementing this method in several countries across the globe have failed miserably, but that has not stopped The Sierra Club and other shady environmental groups from promoting this method as a successful alternative.
In fact, the method bolstered by these radical environmental groups would create a barrier blocking the earths radiant heat, according to global studies conducted on the matter. Kind of interesting that the method being promoted by the environmentalists is something that would augment and alter the earths natural process?
“The heavily subsidized Brazilian and Australian industries have moved toward green harvests as a matter of public policy, driving up their real cost of production,’’ said Barbara Miedema, vice president of public affairs and communication at the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative. “It doesn’t mean the method is appropriate or practical everywhere. Growing conditions in South Florida are vastly different than in other places. We make operational decisions based on science and facts.’’
Tens of thousands of hardworking Floridians are employed by sugarcane farmers, who like most of us work hard to make ends meet and reach the goals and ambitions for their businesses and employees. Do militant environmental groups think about that when they are preparing bogus lawsuits that will do nothing but harm Floridians?
Do they think about the $3.2 billion dollar annual economic impact? NO. They think about “the cause”, not the people of their state and community. What a goddamn shame.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org