Guest Commentary: U.S. Sugar farmers tout commitment to sustainable farming practices, conservation for Earth Day
As people all over the world joined together in celebrating Earth Day, U.S. Sugar’s farmers were proud to recognize the company’s long history of protecting South Florida’s land, air, and water resources.
A recognized leader in the growing and processing of sugarcane, citrus and sweet corn, U.S. Sugar has been farming for nearly 85 years and considers good environmental stewardship part of its heritage.
We’re proud of the fact that our farmers celebrate Earth Day every day by employing the best agricultural practices to protect the environment and produce the finest crops. Ensuring healthy land, air and water is essential to our ability to produce food and provide jobs in our communities.
Through innovative soil and water management techniques, U.S. Sugar and other farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) have played a significant role in ensuring that water leaving their farms is cleaner than when it enters. These practices have led to an average 56 percent reduction in the amount of phosphorus flowing south over the past two decades, far surpassing the Everglades Forever Act’s 25 percent requirement. Last year, farmers in the EAA achieved a 79 percent reduction in phosphorus the highest annual amount achieved.
U.S. Sugar is an industry leader in green energy. It uses bagasse the fibrous material left over after juice is extracted from sugarcane stalks to generate a clean-burning biofuel that powers its sugar manufacturing facilities. Its extensive railroad system saves on diesel fuel and reduces truck traffic, minimizing fossil fuel emissions. As result of these and other efforts, the area where U.S. Sugar farms enjoys some of the best air quality in the state.
As farmers and stewards of the land, U.S. Sugar is committed to all areas of the environment. Its 215,000 acres of Florida farmland provide a nurturing, protected habitat for thousands of birds and small animals. One of the nature’s most environmental friendly crops, sugarcane requires very little fertilizer or pesticides.
U.S. Sugar has been a key supporter of the Everglades and, along with other Florida sugarcane farmers, has invested more than $400 million in restoring and preserving the unique and treasured ecosystem. In 2010, U.S. Sugar sold 27,000 acres to the South Florida Water Management District for water storage and treatment as well as wetlands restoration to help restore the Everglades.
U.S. Sugar has been and remains partners in environmental restoration. We don’t just talk about protecting the earth, we do it through science-based investments that will benefit the state for generations to come.
– Judy Sanchez is the senior director of corporate communications and public affairs for U.S. Sugar