My great-grandfather, grandfather, father and brother have all done the same job I do

June 23, 2016
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My great-grandfather, grandfather, father and brother have all done the same job I do

My great-grandfather, grandfather, father and brother have all done the same job I do

“I am the sixth generation in sugarcane. Our family corporation started in about 1870, and I work for the family corporation. There are about 400 stockholders and they are all family members. Only 10 or 12 family members work here. Together our family owns about 40,000 acres through two different land companies, about 26,000 of that is agricultural, the rest is woods and swamp. We have two sugar mills and process about 55,000 acres of cane, including some for other farmers. It started out with land grants when everyone got 40 or 160 acres and a mule and our family started buying land. I manage the agricultural side for this sugar mill, about 25,000 acres. My brother is at the other mill and does the same thing.”

“What does it mean to have this legacy?”

“I don’t think about it too much. I didn’t think I would come back and do this. I had to pick a major so I went into agriculture economics and worked for other agricultural companies before I came back here 24 years ago. My great-grandfather, grandfather, father and brother have all done the same job I do. We process 400 million pounds of sugar in raw form each year from 2 million tons of sugarcane. About 10 percent of the cane is sugar. We have a 100 day window for harvesting the crop and we have to get it in before the freeze begins. We filter the sugar one time and crystallize it and then ship it to a refinery for the final refining and bagging. Sugarcane spoils quickly, we have 12 hours from cut to processing, so we have to stay on schedule. It gets tough when the weather gets bad and farmers want to harvest early to beat the weather and we can’t handle that much at once. It can be a nightmare if the weather is against us. Harvest season is 16 hour days, 7 days a week with no time off. I love being busy here. I can see the sugar mill from my house and drive through the dirt roads in the fields to get here. I am always getting calls about things going on or people doing things they shouldn’t do on our land. Getting away is fishing in the pond in my backyard.”

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