With the American Sugarbeet Growers Association celebrating some history of its own, it was appropriate for the group to gather in a very historic city — Charleston, S.C. — for its 2010 annual meeting. ASGA marks its
35th anniversary this year; and with sugar prices strong and a favorable farm bill being administered, there was good reason for an upbeat atmosphere at this winter’s meeting. Nearly 300 growers, spouses and affiliated
industry gathered at the event, held January 31-February 2.
But the sugarbeet industry is never without serious challenges, and meeting participants heard about them as well. Ongoing legal issues regarding Roundup Ready® sugarbeets and the prospective impact on the beet processing sector of pending climate change legislation were among the important topics covered. House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson addressed the meeting via phone, stating the sugar program is working well.
Pictured on these pages are several of the speakers who addressed the ASGA audience. A profile of new president Russ Mauch is on pages 8 and 9, with a summary of executive vice president Luther Markwart’s comments beginning on page 12. Finally, on pages 16 and 17, we carry a synopsis of remarks by Janet Anderson on the impact that climate change legislation could have on the beet sugar sector. (The sugar market commentary presented by the American Sugar Alliance’s Jack Roney was reported upon in the February issue of The Sugarbeet Grower.)
Right: Jim Miller, under secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, oversees several of the key USDA agencies whose areas of responsibility directly impact the sugar industry — among them, the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and Foreign Agricultural Service. After providing an overview of the challenges and priorities of the Obama Administration, Miller focused on the ongoing implementation of the current farm bill. Noting that “we have a very sizeable [crop insurance] program” for beets, he added that USDA “is in the process of looking at a revenue program for sugarbeets” — an undertaking not without controversy.
Miller said USDA believes domestic sugar stocks are adequate for the short term, but that the agency also monitors closely the global shortages that have led to higher world market sugar prices. On the Mexican situation, he reported that U.S. and Mexican government representatives have met — in his office — to discuss the issues of sugar and HFCS trade between the two countries under what is now essentially a “common market” under the terms of NAFTA. Referring to the recommendations of the U.S.-Mexico industry task force, Miller said “we have committed to work with our colleagues in Mexico to provide you with a unified response” — hopefully by this spring.
Left: Erik Peterson, senior vice president for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, provided a striking presentation titled “The Seven Revolutions” — a long-term look at major global trends during which he scanned the world out to 2025 and beyond.
The Seven Revolutions that Peterson described include: (1) Population — Today the world supports 6.9 billion people; by 2025 it will have 8.0 billion. The population is getting older as life expectancy increases, and it’s also becoming increasingly urban. (2) Resource Management — The agricultural community continues to produce more food, but there are some critical constraints, with the most crucial by 2025 being that of water. (3) Technology — “Deep computing” and “pervasive computing” are ever-intensifying facts of life. (4) Knowledge — The sheer rate of increase translates into less time for making more-complex decisions. (5) Integration — The world is increasingly interconnected, with a fundamental shift occurring in global production/consumption patterns. (6) Conflict — We have moved beyond the Cold War era into one threatened by “terrorist groups with no return address.” (7) Governance — Walmart represents the world’s 31st biggest economy, an example of globalization and its implications for how nations govern.
We live in a time of both “promise and opportunity” and “peril and instability,” Peterson stated. The overriding need is for national “leaders, not managers,” with the vision to leverage the positive.
Right: Don Parrish, senior director for regulatory relations with the American Farm Bureau Federation, spoke to the annual meeting audience about facets of the Clean Water Act that affect agriculture, including current legislation covering regional clean water initiatives. He encouraged sugarbeet growers to work closely with other ag commodity groups to monitor and voice their positions on these key issues.
Below left: Kelly Smith of the American Beverage Association addressed the issue of states implementing new taxes on soft drinks and how her organization is working against them. The severe budget pressures faced by numerous states means “everybody is looking for money,” Smith noted — and new excise and/or sales taxes are seen as one answer. The beverage sector is taking an increasingly aggressive approach in resisting such taxes, she reported.
You may click on the images below to enlarge.
Above Top Center: Jim Wiesemeyer, veteran Washington ag journalist with Informa Economics, provided the ASGA audience with insightful commentary on the overall political scene in the nation’s capital, as well as analysis of the sugar situation. “You had a good year; you’re going to have another good year,” he told sugarbeet growers. Wiesemeyer suggested USDA likely will consider an increase in tariff rate quota levels after April 1, however.
Above Top Right: Russ Mauch (right), incoming American Sugarbeet Growers Association president from Barney, N.D., presents outgoing president Alan Welp with a plaque in recognition of his outstanding service to the organization during his two-year term. Welp farms near the northeastern Colorado community of Wray.
Above Lower Right: The ASGA leadership team for the coming year includes, left to right: Luther Markwart, executive vice president; Russ Mauch, president; Kelly Erickson, Hallock, Minn., vice president; and Mike Wheeler, Declo, Idaho, treasurer.
Above Lower Center: Wayne Tang (left) of Felton, Minn., was one of three outgoing directors recognized by Alan Welp for their service to ASGA. Other exiting board members were Terry Jones of Powell, Wyo., and Jeff Bieber of Fairview, Mont.
Above Lower Right: John Snyder, president of the Washakie Beet Growers Association, displays sodas containing sugar, not HFCS. Cans of ‘Throwback’ Pepsi, Dr Pepper and Mountain Dew were bottled and donated by Admiral Beverage of Worland, Wyo., for enjoyment by ASGA members during the Tuesday morning meeting break.
Editor & General Manager of The Sugarbeet Grower