Sugar Cane Growers in West Palm Beach, Florida celebrated their 50th crop anniversary on Saturday. The co-operative, which was set up in 1960, harvested it’s first crop in 1962.
The co-operators celebrated the anniversary by hosting a family barbecue and the Florida Cabinet issued a special resolution recognising their achievement.
The co-operative was formed by local growers who were looking for more stability in their winter vegetable operations.
The organisation is made up of 54 grower-members and employs 550 people during the harvest season making it Belle Glade’s single largest employer.
Manny Leazno from the Sugar Cane Growers co-operative said that the co-op: “brings hope and jobs, it helps people better themselves and be proud of somewhere they can work, do something in their community and help out.”
The co-operative produces more than 300,000 tons of raw sugar annually, enough to feed nearly 12 million people.
Noel Shapiro, Star Farms came to the US from Cuba in 1960 and said “The day I became a member, that was my proudest moment”.
The primary functions of the co-operative are to harvest, transport and process the grower-members sugarcane and the sales of raw sugar to American Sugar Refining, Inc. (ASR) that is co-owned by the co-operative and Florida Crystals Corp.
ASR is the world's largest cane sugar refining company with global production capacity of 6 million tons of refined sugar annually.
On the completion of the 50th crop on March 25 the co-operative produced 3,143,327 tons of sugarcane grown on 68,456 acres yielding 374,266 tons of raw sugar and 18 million gallons of blackstrap molasses. Over 10 production records were set this past season.