Industry Leaders Testify Before Senate, House Ag Committees -- “Calling the nation’s sugar program effective at promoting price stability while operating at no cost to taxpayers, U.S. sugar producers urged Congress to renew the program when it and other farm programs expire at the end of the year. . . . Excerpts from the testimony delivered to Congress by representatives of the domestic sugar industry highlight some of the issues over which there has been controversy . . . .
“Raw Sugar Prices Lower, More Stable: ‘The price of sugar has actually averaged less during the three years the program has been in operation than it averaged for the two years just prior to its enactment. The program also has resulted in stable sugar prices. . . .’ / Gerald Shannon, President, Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative
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“Retail Prices of Sugar Products Increase Despite Program: ‘Despite a 20 percent reduction in raw sugar prices since 1980 and despite the stability in sugar prices that has prevailed the last three years, the consumer prices for sugar-containing products in every category have continued to increase.’ / John Bushnell, President, Holly Sugar Corporation
“Sugar a ‘Good Buy’ in U.S.: ‘Food is a better bargain in the U.S. than any other country in the world, even with some food manufacturers, processors and handlers making tremendous profits. The American sugar farmer’s contribution to cheap food is documented. In the U.S., a worker has to work less minutes to buy a pound of sugar than in other country in the world where records are kept. Less than 1-1/2 minutes of work is required to buy a pound of sugar in the U.S. Contrast this with Common Market countries where the average is almost five minutes; and in some Central and South American countries where sugar is produced it is as high as 20 to 30 minutes.’ / Dalton Yancey, Executive Vice President, Florida Sugar Cane League ”
Tate & Lyle Purchases Six Plants from Great Western Sugar Company -- “In 1965, barely 20 years ago, the Great Western Sugar Company was considered by many the crown jewel of the U.S. beet sugar industry. Today this company is no more.
“From the time the company was taken over by Colorado Mill and Elevator Company until the company, a part of Hunt International Resources, filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, what has happened would fill several volumes.
“It now appears that Tate & Lyle, Inc., and its Toronto, Canada, affiliate, Redpath Industries, Ltd., have purchased six of the beet sugar processing facilities. . . . Plants purchased by this new company, Western Sugar Co., include Billings, Montana, Lovell, Wyoming, and Nebraska factories at Scottsbluff, Gering, Mitchell and Bayard.
“Ronald Booth, a Redpath vice president, said the purchase price of around $42 million included $21.5 [million] for the mills and about $20 million for some of Great Western’s sugar, beet pulp, packaging and molasses inventories. . . .
“The five Colorado plants — Greeley, Loveland, Fort Morgan, Sterling and Ovid — plus the Kemp plant at Goodland, Kansas, will reportedly be part of a cooperative put together by the growers of the states of Colorado and Kansas. Efforts to secure sufficient acreage were still underway when this was written.
“The other beet plant owned by the Hunt interests in Ohio has reportedly been acquired by Michigan Sugar Company, a subsidiary of Savannah Foods.”
Growers Are Urged to Watch Cost Cutting; Don’t Get Caught Short -- “Here are several points many top beet growers watch closely to keep yields up and production cost per ton down:
“• Rotate each field away from beets every year, if possible. Alternating with other crops, including legumes, can reduce your fertilizer costs and reduce the chances of pest buildup in the soil.
“• Keep all fertilizer inputs at levels specified by soil tests. Over-fertilization can hurt your tonnage and sugar content almost as badly as too little fertilizer. Avoid excess nitrate levels. Some experts suggest you avoid use of manure as a nitrogen source for sugarbeets. Manure releases nutrients slowly. This slow release can prolong the beets’ vegetative stage and delay sugar production.
“• Avoid soil compaction. It’s a leading yield killer in beets and other crops. Grow your beets on soils that will let roots develop and grow freely. Subsoiling and chiseling pay off substantially by aerating soils and breaking them up. This practice allows better root development and nutrient transfer. If possible, reduce the number of trips you make with tillage and spray equipment. . . .
“• Put pest control on a schedule. ‘Many beet growers still wait too long to treat for some insect pests,’ says Dr. Mok Yun, senior entomologist at Great Western Ag Research Center, Longmont, Colorado. ‘If you wait until the insects have caused very much plant damage, you’re losing a lot of money you don’t have to lose.’
“• Eliminate costly, time-killing jobs. This practice may relate to several of the above points. For example, some growers may make an extra side-dress nitrogen ‘just to give the tonnage a little kicker.’ But if beets already have enough N, that final trip is wasting time and money and probably compacting soil and/or pruning roots.”
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