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U.S. Sugar to close Pahokee mill

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http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/10079842.htm

U.S. Sugar to close Pahokee mill

By JANE BUSSEY

[email protected]

Citing increased competition because of free trade agreements and technology changes, U.S. Sugar announced the closure of its Bryant Mill in Pahokee, located on the eastern edge of Lake Okeechobee. At the same time, the company will modernize and automate its Clewiston sugar processing plant, creating one of the world's largest state-of-the-art facilities.

The closure of the Bryant Mill facility, set for 2007, will mean a loss of 300 to 350 jobs, the company announced, adding that company management will discuss severance packages for workers in upcoming union negotiations.

The Clewiston company blamed trade, automation and new technology for the decision.

Executive Robert Coker said that under the North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. borders will be completely open to Mexican sugar in 2008. The still-unratified Central American Free Trade Agreement, ''which we will actively oppose in Congress, would allow an additional 100,000 tons of foreign sugar into an already over-supplied U.S. market,'' Coker said in a statement.

The modernized sugar processing facilities in Clewiston will come on line in phases over the next three years, eventually processing 38,000 tons per day. The privately held company farms sugarcane and citrus on 196,000 acres in Hendry, Glades and Palm Beach counties.

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I feel bad for all the lost jobs in that area. It's very interesting to see the rural areas in the western areas of the South Florida counties. Their counterparts on the coast are much different. Nobody associates Palm Beach County with farms, but there's actually alot grown out there. Just an interesting conversation with myself, lol...

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This is unfortunate because many of these small rural communities are already suffering economically. Hopefully some type of industrial company can be recruited to expand their operations into the old mill complex.

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