Wednesday, April 11, 2007


U.S. Sugar is closing its Bryant Mill, which opened in 1962 north of the small town of Pahokee.

"U.S. Sugar Closes Historic Bryant Mill as Industry Struggles in Florida" (Sun-Sentinel, April 9, 2007)

Sugar has been produced commercially in Florida for nearly 250 years, probably beginning in New Smyrna. The Bulow Plantation sugar mill was destroyed during the Seminole Wars, and the antebellum sugar plantations of David Levy Yulee and Robert Gamble are now state parks. In the 1880s, Hamilton Disston tried large-scale production of sugar in St. Cloud, but weather and soils pushed sugar growers further south, down to Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. Sugar growers relied heavily on seasonal labor, and in the 1930s and 1940s, and even into the late 20th century, the cane fields were hot spots for migrant labor issues. After the U.S. embargo on Cuban goods in the early 1960s, there was an increased demand for Florida sugar. Sugar production is still strongly tied to international trade and labor issues, recently the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Read More About It:

Big Sugar, by Alec Wilkinson (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989)

Cuba's Sugar Industry, by Jose Alvarez and Lazaro Pena Castellanos (University Press of Florida, 2001)

The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise, by Michael Grunwald (Simon & Schuster, 2006)

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