CLEWISTON — In response to federal government and CDC guidelines governing the widespread coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Sugar has taken all necessary precautions to protect its workers and its food production facilities. Those precautions include closing its offices to visitors, limiting access to food processing facilities, and increased safety and sanitation requirements throughout the workplace.
“Farming and food processing operations have been designated by the president and the Department of Homeland Security as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure and must remain in operation as part of national security,” said U.S. Sugar spokeswoman Judy Sanchez.
In order to safely continue producing food and protecting the safety and security of its facilities and essential workers who grow, harvest and process American food products, Ms. Sanchez said that U.S. Sugar has instituted a number of new, safety screening measures at its Clewiston Sugar Factory and corporate offices.
“Everyone, including workers as well as essential vendors and suppliers, must follow the appropriate health screening procedures to gain access to our offices and sugar manufacturing facilities to protect both our people and our food products,” Ms. Sanchez said.
“Suppliers who put our people or our food safety at risk will no longer be approved suppliers,” she said.
Ms. Sanchez said they had problems with local UPS drivers who refused to adhere to the increased safety screening measures.
"As a critical part of America’s food supply, it is important that everyone who enters our facilities be safely screened to protect both our workers and our food production areas," she explained. "Amazon and many other American businesses have stepped up safety protocols due to the outbreak of the corona virus. Since the two local drivers were not responsive to our safety concerns, UPS has agreed to replace them with more responsible delivery drivers.
"We’ve had no such issues with FedEx, the United States Postal Service and most other suppliers," she added.
Screening protocols include a business-essential purpose for entry, proper identification and a non-contact electronic temperature reading as part of its COVID-19 security measures. Due to federal and state declarations of a national health crisis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have approved temperature screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want everyone to have faith that Florida farmers like U.S. Sugar are working around the clock to provide safe, local food to help feed American families, and that includes ensuring that our people and our facilities remain safe,” Ms. Sanchez said.
U.S. Sugar grows, harvests and processes sugarcane, citrus, sweet corn, green beans and more than a dozen other types of fresh produce. In business since 1931, the company farms in Hendry, Highlands, Glades, Martin and Palm Beach counties. U.S. Sugar takes seriously its commitment as long-term stewards of its land, air and water resources and combines farming traditions with the latest technology in precision agriculture and sustainable food production.