Letter to the Editor: Dear Senators Thurston and Farmer,

Posted 3/8/21

Agriculture is the lifeblood of the Glades communities’ economies,

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Letter to the Editor: Dear Senators Thurston and Farmer,


Dear Senators Thurston and Farmer,

This Legislative Session, the Florida Legislature is considering SB 88, which modernizes Florida’s Right to Farm Act. For many Floridians, providing farmers with the “right to farm” means having access to affordable, safe, and locally-grown food. For our communities, it means that and much more. Agriculture is the lifeblood of the Glades communities’ economies, and strengthening our farmers’ “right to farm” means supporting our jobs, opportunity, and access to healthcare, benefits, and financial security for our families. The economics don’t just impact us, in Palm Beach County alone, agriculture has a $10 billion economic impact and supports more than 1.4 million jobs around the state.

Sadly, as we’ve seen too many times previously, wealthy, out of town so-called “environmental” special interest groups are claiming to know what’s best for our communities. As prominent Democratic leaders, you deserve to hear it straight from us how local residents feel about their so-called “concern” for the people of the Glades: These groups do not have our best interests in mind. In fact, they have repeatedly argued against our cities’ own best interests and repeatedly advocate for solutions that will only bring us economic destruction, unemployment, food insecurity and more shuttered local businesses.

In 2017, many of these same groups pushed (unsuccessfully) for the taking of an additional 60,000 acres of farmland, which would have closed another local sugar mill, cost us 4,100 jobs, and cost our city governments significant revenue by taking land off the tax rolls. As it is so often with groups such as these that cling to their wealth and white privilege, they fail to see how their inflexible agenda can make matters worse for minority communities like the Glades—communities they claim to want to help.

No recent event has shown the importance of agriculture to our cities more than the global COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the efforts of outside activist groups such as the Sierra Club to try to divide us, the pandemic has brought us closer to our brothers and sisters in agriculture as we have partnered with the local sugarcane and vegetable farmers on meal programs and the distribution of medical supplies, N95 masks, hand sanitizer, and school supplies for our children who are learning from home. No matter the crisis, our farmers are there for us, while these outside groups are not now and have never been there for us.

We were blessed to have the support of the Florida Legislature in 2017, when a bipartisan majority of members ultimately came to a compromise that allowed the construction of the EAA reservoir to move forward without penalizing hardworking farmers and residents in our area. We are once again asking for your support and urge you to support SB 88 to modernize Florida’s Right to Farm. The only “injustice” occurring in this issue is coming from outside groups who are claiming to know what’s best for us, and are instead threatening once again to disrupt our way of life as we know it.


Mayor Steve Wilson

City of Belle Glade

Mayor Keith Babb

City of Pahokee City

Mayor Joe Kyles

City of Belle Glade

Janet Taylor

Glades Lives Matter

Tammy Jackson-Moore

Guardians of the Glades

CC: Senate President Wilton Simpson
House Speaker Chris Sprowls
Rep. Ben Diamond
Rep. Evan Jenne
Rep. Bobby DuBose

legislative, agriculture, farm, families