PB County’s sugar production is enough for 65 million people a year

A worker inspects a sugar cane field near Belle Glade.

A worker inspects a sugar cane field near Belle Glade.

When it comes to Palm Beach County agriculture, there are plenty of  big numbers that tell its story, such as a half million acres in production.

The vastness of the fertile fields around Lake Okeechobee often amazes people when they view them for the first time and even for the zillionth time.

A new report, “Economic Contributions of Agriculture, Natural resources and Food Industries in Palm Beach County,” was presented  last week at the Palm Beach International Agricultural Summit  by Scott Barnhart, associate  professor, Florida Atlantic University, and Alan Hodges, extension scientist, University of Florida. To read the report, go to pbias.org/

The county’s agricultural products are valued at about $1 billion at the farm level, the report says. It’s tough to visualize just how much sugarcane, corn and other types of fresh produce that is.

John S. Hundley, vice president of Belle Glade-based Hundley Farms, came up with a way to more easily grasp the magnitude of the crops produced in Palm Beach County. He got the idea after meeting with teachers from Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties on a recent farm tour.

“My passion for the production of food is endless.  The farmers in Palm Beach County are special people whose humble efforts help people globally.  I believe most farmers here feel the calling to help others,” Hundley said.

“Yes, this is how we earn our living but we are a generous group.  I was recently part of volunteer effort to feed 350,000 people.  I donated 32,000 pounds of rice.  It only took seven acres of rice to feed that many people.  I immediately thought of Luke 9:10-17 where Jesus feeds the 5,000.  I said to myself we are so blessed in Palm Beach County.  So I began to do the math and look up per capita consumption.  So many people go hungry every day and it breaks my heart,” he said.

Here’s the breakdown:

Sugar:  Enough to supply 65 million people for a year

Sweet corn: Enough to supply 1 billion people for two months

Rice:  Enough to supply 150 million people for 2 months

Lettuce: 1 billion salads a year

Radishes: 36 million pounds a year

Celery: 120 million stalks a year

Cabbage: 250 million servings of cole slaw per year

Fresh Green Beans: 350 million servings per year

 

 

 

 

 

 

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