Personnel note: U.S. Sugar promotes Ken McDuffie, Derek Pridgen

Ken McDuffie and Derek Pridgen move up at U.S. Sugar.
McDuffie is now Executive Vice President. Pridgen was moved up to VP of Agricultural Operations

U.S. Sugar announced Monday that Ken McDuffie has been promoted to Executive Vice President and Derek Pridgen has been promoted to Vice President of Agricultural Operations.

In his new role, McDuffie will assist the U.S. Sugar President and CEO Robert H. Buker Jr. in all strategic and political matters and have oversight of U.S. Sugar’s agricultural operations. McDuffie will continue to directly oversee citrus agriculture and research, railroad operations, Rouge River Farms and industry and grower relations.

“Under Ken’s steady leadership at the helm of our Agricultural Operations division, we have had some of the most productive crops in our Company’s 90-year history,” Buker said. “As Executive Vice President, Ken will take on additional responsibilities to help move our Company forward as we continue charting a course for the future.”

McDuffie, a Clewiston native, most recently served as U.S. Sugar’s Senior Vice President of Agricultural Operations, a position he has held since 2005. McDuffie started working at U.S. Sugar in 1992 and has held several positions with the company. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Florida State University.

“It is humbling to be able to help lead a Company I have grown up admiring and have had the privilege to work for throughout my career,” McDuffie said. “U.S. Sugar is a special company, and I look forward to playing a larger role in ensuring we can continue to provide cane sugar, citrus, and fresh vegetables to customers across America.”


McDuffie and his wife, Melissa, live in Clewiston with their two high school-age children, Nick and Samuel. Their third son, Landon, lives in Stuart.

Pridgen, meanwhile, was promoted from U.S. Sugar’s General Manager of Farm Operations. As Vice President of Agricultural Operations, he will be responsible for all aspects of sugarcane operations and will report directly to McDuffie.

Pridgen, also a Clewiston native, started working at U.S. Sugar in 2019. Pridgen first started with Southern Gardens Citrus in 1997. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Central Florida.

Pridgen and his wife, Michelle, live in Clewiston with their children Sofia, Ty and Alexis.

U.S. Sugar is a massive agricultural company based in Clewiston. The company is the largest sugar producer in the U.S. Founded in 1931, U.S. Sugar also produces citrus and sweet corn.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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