Statement on Dismissal of Berman Law Group Class Action Lawsuit
Belle Glade–The Stop Pre-Harvest Sugar Field Burning Campaign, launched in 2015 by Sierra Club Florida, was never a party to the Berman Law Group class action lawsuit, however, we feel the pain of those for whom the lawsuit represented a hopeful, different angle from which to pressure the sugar industry to "stop the burn."
Many generations, hundreds of thousands of residents, in and around the Glades have been subjected to the smoke and ash callously dumped upon them by the sugar industry. Local Stop the Burn–Go Green activists, none of whom were plaintiffs in the Berman Law Group classaction lawsuit, will continue to battle against the outdated, toxic, and racist practice that the sugar industry can and must stop.
The dismissal of the lawsuit has no bearing on the absolute fact that the more affluent citizens to the east have been protected for 30 years because of permitting protocols denying burn permits when the wind and ash blows their way, while the people in and around the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) remain without the same protections. The dismissal cannot erase the fact that those most negatively impacted are only offered "increased monitoring," which keeps the end of pre-harvest sugar field burning out of reach. Local, state, and federal-level electeds who call for more studies, rather than an immediate switch to green harvesting, are just kicking the can down the road past their next election in order to continue to bring in those Big Sugar campaign contributions.
The green harvesting of sugarcane is already practiced at a large scale in every other major sugar-producing country in the world, and even in and around the EAA, but only when convenient for the Florida sugar industry. It has long been time for the industry to move to modern, sustainable green harvesting as the ultimate solution to the environmental injustice of pre-harvest sugar field burning. Green harvesting not only ends the burn, but also provides growers a new source of income. The trash that is now going up in smoke can be turned into biochar, biofuels, electricity, tree-free paper products, and mulch, the production of which can provide new jobs so badly needed in the Glades.
To learn how Brazil successfully transitioned to green harvesting, we recommend the ProPublica video “How One Country Sought to Combat the Harm of Burning Sugar Cane” found here.
Patrick Ferguson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-288-4234