American Sugarbeet Growers Association executive vice president, Luther Markwart, spoke with Montana sugarbeet growers to discuss the new farm bill
A trade negotiator with more than three decades of experience, including a key role in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, has joined the American Sugar Alliance as an in-house consultant.
Brian Grunenfelder will work alongside veteran ASA Trade Adviser Don Phillips in helping analyze the complex global trade issues that impact U.S. sugar farmers and shape America’s no-cost sugar policy.
Grunenfelder recently served as the Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative in the Office of Agricultural Affairs. In this capacity, he led the U.S.-Japan Trans-Pacific Partnership Agricultural Market Access Group and managed agricultural negotiations with the Republic of Korea, Colombia, and Peru.
Grunenfelder previously spent more than 25 years within the Foreign Agricultural Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“We warmly welcome Brian and are thrilled that he has brought his vast experience in agriculture and trade policy to the American Sugar Alliance,” said Ryan Weston, ASA chairman.
“America’s sugar farmers are increasingly under threat from unfair foreign subsidies and malicious trade practices,” Weston said. “Brian has the expertise to navigate these varied international challenges and will be an invaluable asset in shaping sugar policy here at home.”
Don Phillips, who will work with Grunenfelder to ensure a smooth transition, plans to continue with ASA in a more limited role, primarily focused on serving on the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Sweeteners and Sweetener Products at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Don has been a champion for this industry,” Weston added. “He’s guided us through numerous trade negotiations and conflicts, and he’s always done so with class, professionalism, and tremendous leadership. On behalf of 142,000 U.S. sugar farmers and workers, thank you, Don.”
Phillip Hayes is the Director of Media Relations for the American Sugar Alliance. He can be reached on cell at 202-271-5734 and on email at Phillip@sugaralliance.org.
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January 15, 2019 at 04:44PM
The 2019 International Sugarbeet Institute Show is March 20-21, 2019 at the Fargodome in Fargo, ND.
FARGO, N.D. – The 2019 International Sugarbeet Institute (ISBI) is fast approaching. Once again, the show will offer free admission and free parking at the Fargodome. The ISBI committee is excited to announce Dr. Dan Colacicco will be speaking both days at 11:00am.
Dr. Colacicco is an economic consultant to the American Sugar Alliance specializing in federal grower support programs. He spent 36 years at USDA, including 20 years providing economic and policy analysis for the Farm Service Agency’s sugar, dairy, and honey programs.
During the last 14 years of his USDA career he was responsible for the administration the domestic sugar program as the Director of the Dairy and Sweetener Analysis Group. He was responsible for the regulations and implementation of the domestic sugar program, which includes the Sugar Loan Program, Sugar Marketing Allotment Program, Sugar Payment in Kind Program, Feedstock Flexibility Program, and the sugar information collection system.
Prior to his commodity work, he was a conservation analyst and helped develop the Conservation Reserve and Wetlands Reserve Programs. His agricultural experience includes picking pineapple on Lanai, Hawaii, where he went to prep school. Dr. Colacicco received a B.S. in Economics and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Maryland. He resides in Annapolis, Maryland, with his wife and any of his five children that need a place to stay.
About the International Sugarbeet Institute:
2019 will mark the 57th annual ISBI show. The International Sugarbeet Institute is held annually in March and is the largest exhibit of sugarbeet equipment and related products and services in the United States.
The show began in 1963 in Crookston, Minn., as the specialized event and seminar of everything about sugarbeet production. It was specifically held during the winter for the Red River Valley and later became the two-day trade show and educational institute for all growers internationally. It became international in 1980, when Manitoba growers joined the force.
The event is held in Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D. on alternating years and features national agricultural leaders, legislators and sugar specialists. The show is filled with all things sugarbeet related. Those attending are met with interesting and entertaining displays, exhibits and trade-show personnel. The special speakers discuss subjects most interesting to the industry of the day.
Advancements in equipment and production methods have become consistently bigger and more sophisticated through the years. Millions of dollars’ worth of equipment will be on display for growers to inspect.
The Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association board has named former congressional staffer Brad Griff the group’s new executive director.
He is succeeds Mark Duffin, who held the post since 1991 and plans to retire Sept. 30.
Griff, 32, previously worked for U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, who ran in the 2018 Idaho Republican gubernatorial primary and did not seek re-election to Congress.
For about two years, Griff worked for Labrador as Washington, D.C., legislative assistant before serving as Labrador’s Boise-area regional director from March 2015 through December 2018. He also worked for Sen. Mike Crapo and for Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.
Griff grew up on a third-generation family farm near Hollister, Idaho, south of Twin Falls. He earned a degree in political science from the University of Idaho in 2009.
“Agriculture was something I was born into and politics was something I learned,” he said. Leading the Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association “is really a fusion of my two passions. I am really excited to be on board here and working for farmers. It feels like I am working for my family again.”
The approximately 540-member group advocates for sugar beet growers in the state.
“We have worked with Brad for a number of years in his capacity in Congressman Labrador’s office handling agricultural affairs,” Duffin said. “Several of our board members are well-acquainted with him and have enjoyed working with him in that capacity.”
Duffin said the board liked Griff’s knowledge of Idaho agriculture and national issues, including the recently updated farm bill that renewed the U.S. sugar policy.
“We determined he would be a great fit for what we were looking for,” said board President Randall Grant, a sugar beet grower in Twin Falls. He said Griff is well-suited to work with growers, and a range of policy issues whether they impact sugar specifically or Idaho agriculture in general.
Griff, a Leadership Idaho Agriculture graduate, said major issues for the sugar beet industry include the U.S. sugar policy — debated each time Congress considers reauthorizing the farm bill — biotechnology and transportation.
“We transport about 7 million tons of sugar beets in southern Idaho, and it’s vital that we have policies that keep our growers profitable,” he said.
Griff launched website idahosugar.org. “The goal is to help us tell our story. A lot of people don’t know what a sugar beet is because they don’t buy it at the grocery store,” he said.
He and Duffin will work together until Duffin retires.
Griff lives in Boise, where the association is based, with his wife and their young son.
Sugar Beet News |
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January 15, 2019 at 10:00AM
BILLINGS- Malt barley and sugar beets are two important crops to Montana and Wyoming farmers and the regional economy. This week, both crops were in the spotlight during a symposium hosted by the Mountain States Crop Education Association in Billings.
A lot has changed in the 21st century of how both crops are raised versus how our grand and even great grandparents farmed. That’s why organizers of the Montana and Wyoming Malt Barley and Sugar Beet Symposium like Neal Fehringer put so much time in providing relevant topics.
“You know we’re looking at no-till farming in sugar beets when people thought that was not a possibility, that you had to plow the ground make it smooth and like a table top in order to plant those sugar beets. And that’s not true,” said Fehringer. “So, there’s opportunities to reverse our degradation of the soil and make it healthier.”
Farmers like Kim Nile of Forsyth appreciate the symposium’s information that’s geared towards making them better farmers and staying in business.
“We’re not as isolated as we used to be with the internet and all that stuff now,” said Nile. “But still, it’s good to get it firsthand, and you can you can rub shoulders with it with the people doing the research and pick their brain one on one in addition to the formal presentation. So, it’s just a good forum to get the information out.”
Fehringer says new precision agriculture technology is also helping growers, especially during times of low commodity prices.
“They spend a lot less time in the tractor wearing out their tractors using up diesel fuel and it improves the soil health,” said Fehringer. “So, maybe we’re not generating any more gross revenue, but if we can cut our costs, then the net is better. So, that’s what they’re embracing is ways to survive.”
At the end of the day, Nile says the symposium passes along useful information that supports their way of life.
“We’re all looking to make our farms better,” said Nile. “We’re looking to make them be here forever. And we’re looking to make a little money while we’re at it because we all like to goof off a little bit too.”
It’s symposiums like this where malt barley and sugar beet growers from across the entire region can come together and hear about the latest issues that are impacting their industry and learn about some of that new and exciting technology that hopefully will allow them to become more profitable and stay in business.
Story by Russell Nemetz, MTN News
https://www.youtube.com/embed/ds2_ofHPTgw?enablejsapi=1&autoplay=0&cc_load_policy=0&iv_load_policy=1&loop=0&modestbranding=0&rel=1&showinfo=1&fs=1&playsinline=0&controls=2&autohide=2&theme=dark&color=red& Sugar Beet News |
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January 10, 2019 at 11:13AM
Certified Crop Adviser and Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative agriculturalist, Cody Wahlstrom, chatted with AgPro to update folks on some of the current key issues within the sugarbeet industry.
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via AgWeb - The Home Page of Agriculture https://www.agweb.com
January 8, 2019 at 04:33PM
CONTACT: BEN SANDER
(FARGO, N.D.) – Active Height Control from Amity Technology has won the 2019 AE50 Award from The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).
AE50 awards honor the year’s most innovative designs in engineering products or systems for the food and agriculture industries. Chosen by a panel of international experts for its advancement in engineering for agriculture, Active Height Control, with its sensor system for changing flail height, is revolutionizing the industry.
“The intelligent Active Height Control system was developed to help farmers deal with the ever-changing dynamics of soil type and conditions during sugar beet harvest,” says Mike Lundberg of Amity Technology. “We’re honored to be recognized by ASABE for our contribution to agriculture.”
Active Height Control is available on 00 and 50 series sugar beet defoliators. Sensors on the scalper bar or rear of the machine are engineered to adjust the defoliator to changing ground level and beet height. These automatic or manual adjustments from the tractor cab give high-quality defoliation to maximize storage potential.
Amity Technology, founded in 1996, is one of the world’s leading innovators in the sugar beet equipment industry. Based in Fargo, North Dakota, Amity Technology offers a full line of sugar beet harvesting equipment including defoliators, harvesters, and a beet cart. Amity Technology markets its products worldwide, with special emphasis on North America and Eastern Europe. More information on the company can be found at www.amitytech.com.
FARGO, N.D. — Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative of Wahpeton wants to get back to its “gold standard” position in the sugar beet industry, but two years of weather, disease and equipment challenges have made that difficult.
President and CEO Kurt Wickstrom addressed the co-op’s annual meeting in Fargo on Tuesday, Dec. 4, and remained upbeat after equipment failures and weather challenges that have translated into disappointing 2018 beet prices.
Wickstrom declined to discuss what the company’s first annual beet payment projection is this year. About a third of the 2018 crop had emergence and frost problems, Wickstrom said. The growing season improved, but growers suffered their second-worst year of cercospora leaf disease despite diligent fungicide applications.
August crop samples indicated a 30-ton-per-acre yield and nice sugar content. “When all was said and done and the crop was delivered, the yield was just under 27 tons, which is still a good yield,” but the sugar content of 16.45 percent was over a percentage point less than the earlier samples.
The co-op reduced acreage in 2018 to 88,000 from the previous year’s 97,000 acres, Wickstrom said. A diffuser — a key factory component — broke down during the processing season. Because of that and other delays, the co-op processed 2017 beets until a record-late July 5, 2018. They needed to cut acres to allow for a vital summer maintenance schedule, and right-size the crop for an anticipated shorter processing season.
“We’re going to slice 350,000 to 400,000 fewer tons than last year and we’re dependent on that volume to produce a good grower payment,” Wickstrom said. “So our grower payment is not going to be what we’d hoped it was going to be.”
For 2019, the co-op is planning to go back to 101,000 acres, knowing they need volume.
Wickstrom said the company needs to make managed, planned, reasonable-sized investments in the facility; increase acres to fit a 260- to 270-day processing campaign; and increase sugar content and recoverable sugar per ton.
Luther Markwart, executive vice president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, covered the waterfront of national and international political conditions.
Markwart said all the pieces are put together for the farm bill, but declined to comment on specifics until it is passed and signed by President Donald Trump, which could happen in the coming weeks. The death of former President George H.W. Bush created a week’s delay.
Mexican sugar export problems of a few years ago have been “fixed and are working quite well,” Markwart said.
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaced NAFTA, appears acceptable.
Markwart said the administration is being very aggressive with one-on-one trading agreements with countries. The industry will be vigilant, paying special attention to any European Union agreement.
“Agriculture will be very tough with the Europeans, but in terms of sugar, they are now an exporter,” he said. “We’re an importer, and they export refined sugar. We don’t need any more refined sugar in this market because that threatens our U.S. cane refiners and puts pressure on beet sugar in the market. We don’t want that and we don’t need it.”
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December 20, 2018 at 09:01AM
Amalgamated Sugar Co. recently signed a joint-venture agreement with Vienna-based fruit, starch and sugar enterprise The Agrana Group to build a betaine crystallization plant at Agrana’s facility in Tulln, Austria.
Work on the nearly $40 million project is slated to start in early 2019 and take about a year.
Betaine is a by-product of sugar beets. It is extracted in the sugar production process. The vitamin-rich substance is used as a feed constituent to help animals naturally retain proper water and salt concentrations. It’s also used in food supplements, sports drinks and cosmetic products.
Amalgamated Sugar has been extracting liquid betaine from sugar beet molasses since 1994. The Boise-based company started producing crystalline betaine in 2005. The Beta Pura joint venture’s Austria plant will be the third production site in the world where natural, high-quality crystalline is produced, Amalgamated said in a news release.
Amalgamated Sugar is a world leader in crystalline betaine technology, company President and CEO John McCreedy said. “Our growers and company staff are looking forward to working with Agrana in this market. Leveraging the technology developed by our subsidiary company, Amalgamated Research LLC, is an important strategic initiative for our future.”
Amalgamated Sugar Communications Specialist Jessica McAnally said the research subsidiary developed the technology to separate betaine from sugar beet molasses, and is one of two companies in the world that can separate and crystallize betaine. Amalgamated Sugar produces liquid betaine at its plants in Twin Falls and Nampa, Idaho. The company produces crystalline betaine in Nampa.
“This allows us to expand into different markets,” she said. “We are hoping to expand in the feed market and also possibly the cosmetics market.” She expects the new joint venture to “positively affect the payments we are able to provide our grower-owners.”
Amalgamated Sugar parent cooperative Snake River Sugar Co.’s more than 750 members grow sugar beets on more than 180,000 acres in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Amalgamated said it is the second-largest producer of sugar from beets in the U.S. Sugar prices remain at 1980s levels, the American Sugar Alliance reported.
Agrana converts agricultural raw materials into food and other products. The company employs about 8,700 people at 59 sites around the world.
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December 20, 2018 at 08:53AM
At first blush, the farm bill recently passed by Congress is being welcomed by sugar beet growers.
Most in agriculture are happy to have a new five-year ag policy framework they can work with, said local sugar beet company official Ric Rodriguez of Powell.
“We are just starting to hear from all the national farmer organizations, and the reactions I’ve heard are all positive,” said Rodriguez, vice chairman of the board of Western Sugar Cooperative, which operates in Wyoming and three other states.
The farm bill — approved overwhelmingly by both Houses of Congress — says all the right things as far as sugar beet growers are concerned, Rodriguez said.
But there is more to the equation: “The big concern is for the government to run the program correctly,” he noted.
The sugar program was left virtually untouched in the five-year reauthorization of the farm bill. It gives protection to sugar growers from the market being oversupplied by highly subsidized foreign sugar. That’s a monitoring function left to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“When they [the government] don’t control the imports as the law intended, we end up with an oversupplied market and lower prices,” Rodriguez explained.
Already a concern to sugar beet growers, he said, is the delay in the appointment of an undersecretary to run the program.
“We have been operating with a temporary person,” Rodriguez said, “because the appointment has been one of the many held up in Congress.”
The sugar program operates at no cost to the consumers, Rodriguez maintains. It offers low interest loans for sugar company borrowing, and is one of the only commodities to put money back into the U.S. Treasury from interest paid on the sugar loans.
Congressional delegation split on updated farm bill
The newly updated farm bill — which authorizes $867 billion worth of federal spending for agricultural programs and food assistance — drew mixed reviews from Wyoming’s Congressional delegation.
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., voted for The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 last week, calling it a vote “to protect Wyoming ranchers.”
Cheney said the five-year reauthorization of the bill is “essential to the continuity of programs relied on by farmers and ranchers in Wyoming as they work every day to feed the nation.”
She said the bill will provide tools and resources to help farmers and ranchers deal with factors outside their control — including market volatility, poor weather and natural disasters.
Beyond that, she said the bill will encourage the development of more broadband access in rural areas, improve the management of public lands to prevent wildfires, maintain the sugar policies that Wyoming beet growers rely on, among other positive provisions.
However, Wyoming’s U.S. Senators — Republicans Mike Enzi and John Barrasso — both voted against the final version of the legislation; Enzi and Barrasso said they didn’t like the changes that were made after the bill passed the Senate last summer.
“While I’m pleased the 2018 farm bill included a number of good provisions for Wyoming agriculture producers, I believe it fell short in addressing some of the key challenges our western agriculture communities face,” Barrasso said in a statement. “It failed to include meaningful forest management provisions important for wildlife habitat and for ranchers who need healthy federal lands for grazing. In another year when Wyoming and other western states were impacted by catastrophic wildfires, effective forest management is more important than ever.”
Enzi said lawmakers weren’t given enough time to review the final language of the bill, which was a compromise between two different versions passed by the House and Senate last summer.
“The vote was held less than 24 hours after the [revised] text was released,” Enzi said in a statement. “That is why I voted against the final version. It is critical to review possible intended and unintended consequences of legislation before voting.”
“For example,” he said, “I have heard that the bill failed to address key concerns from ranchers over federal management provisions that affect grazing and wildlife habitat.”
While called the farm bill, the legislation includes funding for not only agricultural programs but also for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which used to be known as the Food Stamp Program. According to Barrasso, more than 75 percent of the $867 billion of federal money will go toward SNAP.
Some Republicans — particularly in the House — had fought to increase the work requirements for SNAP recipients.
“Under current law, able-bodied adults who do not have dependent children and are under the age of 50 must work for 20 hours a week or participate in job training to receive food aid under the program,” McClatchy Washington Bureau explained. “The original House Republican proposal expanded the work requirements to include people up to age 59 and parents of children over the age of 6. It also included proposals that would have made it harder for states to give exceptions to those rules.”
Cheney said the final bill does give President Donald Trump the ability to strengthen work requirements for SNAP, but the changes proposed by the House were mostly stripped from the final version that passed Congress. National pundits noted that Congressional Republicans lost some of their legislative bargaining power in November’s midterm elections, when Democrats won control of the House.
Barrasso said the final farm bill didn’t go far enough in addressing a number of expensive federal programs, including SNAP.
“I believe Congress missed a real opportunity to improve accountability, help those Americans most in need and protect taxpayer dollars for the next four years,” he said.
The final version of the act passed the U.S. House of Representatives 369-47 and the U.S. Senate 87-13, with Barrasso and Enzi among the 13 in opposition; the two Wyoming senators had voted for the version that passed the Senate last summer.
It is expected that President Donald Trump will sign the act into law soon.
“... It looks like the farm bill is in very, very good shape. So we’ll get the farm bill,” Trump said at Saturday evening’s Congressional Ball, according to a transcript of his remarks released by the White House. “Got to take care of the farmers.”
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December 20, 2018 at 08:52AM
Acres & Shares, LLC to specialize in land and beet stock sales.
Grand Forks, N.D. — December 10, 2018 — A seasoned land and beet stock specialist has launched a new company.
Jayson Menke, who started the company, says Acres & Shares, LLC’s niche market is farmland and American Crystal Sugar Company (ACSC) beet stock brokerage.
During the past 18 and a half years, Menke, who worked for Botsford Qualey Land Company and Farmers National Company, has become one of the most experienced land brokers in eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.
“As a North Dakota farm kid, I am blessed to stay connected to agriculture and serve Minnesota and North Dakota landowners as a trusted advisor,” Menke says.
Previous to starting Acres & Shares, LLC, Menke was also the President and CEO of FNC Ag Stock, LLC and prior to that was the head of the Alerus Securities Ag Stock Division.
“Another of my work joys has been working with ACSC shareholders since 2003. Building trust. Renewing and creating friendships and business relationships,” Menke says.
“Starting this new business has been exciting. Some of the new ideas I’ll incorporate will enhance the customer service experience for landowners and ACSC shareholders alike.”
Acres & Shares is locally owned and headquartered in Grand Forks. For more information visit www.acresandshares.com or call Menke at (218) 779-1293.
FARGO — There were days in October when Tom Astrup didn’t know how the 2018 sugar beet harvest in the Red River Valley was going to end up. Unprecedented cold nights, rainy days and inches of snow were hurting the ability to get beets out of the field and could have ruined much of the crop.
“I can tell you, I was pessimistic,” Astrup, president and CEO of American Crystal Sugar, said during his speech Thursday, Dec. 6, to the Joint Annual Meeting of American Crystal Sugar Company and the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.
The next week’s weather was critical in getting out what Astrup called a “pretty darn good 2018 crop.” Still, the crop didn’t approach the two prior years’ crops, and 2,200 acres out of 390,000 planted didn’t get pulled out of the ground.
“It’s painful for those who had to leave them behind,” he said.
Yields for 2018 were 28.9 tons per acre, compared to 30.2 tons per acre in 2017, which was second only to 2016’s record crop. Sugar content for 2018 is expected to be 18.14 percent, comparable both to 2017 and the historical average.
Astrup explained that the sugar content and yield were lower than looked possible during the summer. But a cool September, along with the stress of the October cold, rain and snow, seem likely to have capped the beets’ potential. Astrup said really cold weather now, which would allow the beets to freeze and keep the company processing into May, would help the prospects.
Matt Wineinger, president of United Sugars Corp., spoke about what his company does, explaining that United Sugars’ purpose is to “Sell it high! Sell it all!” American Crystal Sugar is one of four companies that work with United Sugars Corp. to sell sugar.
Wineinger showed a heat map of where United Sugars’ products go, with a oval stretching across much of the Midwest and into Florida. Chicago is the main focus, Wineinger said, explaining that the company’s “sugar dome” in the Windy City plays a part in that. Chicago, he said, is the top metropolitan sugar market, and having a strong presence there is good for business.
Astrup, meeting later with media, concurred, saying it’s cost-effective to ship to Chicago.
“It’s just an arrangement our customers have found much to their liking.”
Astrup also touched briefly on the new Big Sky Sugar Cooperative that have signed a nonbinding letter of intent to purchase American Crystal Sugar’s Sidney, Mont., processing facility. While negotiations have a long way to go, Astrup said he is hoping the deal can be closed before spring planting.
Astrup said the growers in Sidney have not been part of American Crystal Sugar and have instead been contract growers who negotiate prices with the cooperative. Forming their own cooperative and owning the Sidney facility would be a positive step for growers there and for the community of Sidney, Asrup said.
“It’s a good plant,” he said. “I think it’s got a great future.”
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December 7, 2018 at 09:19AM
TORRINGTON – After years of ballyhoo and rumor, it’s finally going to happen – for the first time since 1923, sugar beets will no longer be processed in Goshen County.
According to Western Sugar Cooperative President and CEO Rodney Perry, the current processing campaign will be the last for the Torrington facility, which has been in operation for 95 years.
“It is our plan that this will be the last campaign that we will process sugar beets there,” Perry said. “We will still store sugar there from other sites and other locations. We will bring it in there and store it, pack it and ship sugar out of there. We will maintain the operation and some of the people.”
Previous Telegram stories stated the storing and packing facility will employ between 20 and 30 full-time employees, and the shutdown of the processing line resulted in the loss of 60-70 full-time employees and around 200 seasonal employees. Most recently, Western Sugar announced 92 employees would be permanently laid-off in a letter to Torrington Mayor Mike Varney, the Wyoming Workforce Center and the Wyoming Department of Labor.
During the Torrington City Council meeting on Nov. 20, Varney said he expects the factory to be shut down and was highly critical of Western Sugar.
“I don’t know what is going to come out of it,” Varney said at the meeting.“We’ll see. It hasn’t been a real good situation in the last four or five years.”
According to Perry, the upcoming lay-off of 92 workers, which will take place in mid-January, is part of the same plan the co-op announced in September 2016 to gradually shut down sugar production at the Torrington facility.
“This is something that we originally announced back in September of 2016,” Perry said. “We did a press release on it, so I guess I’m a little surprised. We’ve made press releases and been open about it for over two years.”
Perry said the decision to end sugar processing in Torrington was due to the company making technological upgrades in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and in Fort Morgan, Colorado.
“As we announced in September 2016, we would be investing in newer technologies and expanding our Scottsbluff facility and our Fort Morgan facility,” he said. “At that time, we said it would be over the next 24 months, then with that going effort and doing those projects, we would be reducing our activities and workforce in Torrington.
“The plan hasn’t changed,” Perry said. “It’s the same.”
Varney said the company hasn’t invested in the Torrington facility, and if it did the Torrington facility would still be viable.
“For a while, it did the job for Western,” Varney said. “It still would do the job, but they haven’t put any money in it and with all of the money they spend on those two factories, I’ve got a hunch it came back to haunt them.”
As the processing operation winds down in Torrington, Perry said affected employees who want to still be involved in the industry should keep an eye on the job boards for Western Sugar’s other facilities.
“We’re looking forward to those individuals applying at our other facilities,” Perry said. “We regularly have opening in Scottsbluff as well as our other locations, and we look forward to those individuals applying at our other locations. Having sugar beet experience is a plus, so we look forward to those individuals applying for openings at the other sites.”
According to Perry, local producers should not be impacted by the reduction of the Torrington facility.
“It really doesn’t affect them,” he said. “They’re still part of the cooperative, and we’re still going to store sugar beets there and deliver them over to Scottsbluff to be processed. It’s not going to have a major effect on the producers at this point.”
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November 30, 2018 at 11:26AM
Check out this awesome video by Sarah Wagner as she takes you through an entire sugarbeet growing season in Fischer, Minn.
The outlook for the sugar beet harvest in the Upper Snake River Valley that recently got started is better than last year, according to sugar company officials.
“The early harvest is showing positive results with an average of 17.4 percent sugar content and an estimated 39 tons plus per acre production,” said Pat Laubacher, Amalgamated Sugar Co. vice president of agriculture.
“Early harvest in the Upper Snake River and Magic Valley began Sept. 4,” Jessica McAnally, Amalgamated Sugar communications specialist, said last week.
McAnally said the full companywide harvest began Saturday.
The 2016 crop was considered exceptional, McAnally said.
“We broke company records on both yield and sugar content,” she said.
The 2017 crop wasn’t quite up to 2016, but it was still a good year, she said.
“We were able to process all the crop,” she said. “Amalgamated Sugar’s 2017 sugar beet crop averaged 39.2 tons per acre and 16.84 percent beet quality lab sugar content. This year, there was limited replant companywide,” she said. “So things are looking good.”
Amalgamated Sugar was formed in 1902 with the merging of the Ogden Sugar Co., the Logan Sugar Co., and the Oregon Sugar Co. It is the second-largest United States sugar beet processor behind the Minnesota-based American Crystal Sugar.
In 1997 the farmer cooperative, Snake River Sugar Co., purchased control of Amalgamated. More than 750 growers produce sugar beets on approximately 180,000 acres in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
Amalgamated Sugar processing plants are located in Nampa, Paul and Twins Falls. A brown-sugar plant is in Nyssa, Ore.
The Liberty sugar beet receiving station, near Rockford, opened in 1997. Today, five pilers are in operation at Liberty with neighboring piling grounds in Blackfoot and Springfield.
With the sugar beet harvest now going full bore, growers are eager to get the job done.
“It will be good to get our beets out of the field,” said Bob Olsen, of Rich Lane Farms.
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via Post Register
October 17, 2018 at 02:55PM
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Colorado's past, present and future are all visible from Paul Schlagel's front porch just a few miles off Interstate 25 in Longmont.
A pristine view of Longs Peak and the Rocky Mountain range rests undisturbed to the west. Manufacturing and housing developments have inched closer from the east, and the once desolate Boulder County Road 20½ that runs by the farmhouse is now full of steady traffic.
A rotation of crops surrounding the homestead includes a field of sugar beets, which the Schlagel family has grown since they immigrated to Colorado with legions of other Germans from Russia in 1907. Paul and his son, Scott, lead the farming today, and a sixth generation of the Schlagel family arrived earlier this month.
"Sugar beets are part of our heritage but it's also deeper than that," said Paul, a 63-year-old lifelong farmer. "The sugar beet grower group is small, but we are dedicated to the sugar industry and keeping it going for generations."
These sugar beets are different than the purple vegetable often used in salads and championed on "The Office" by Dwight Schrute. When harvested, sugar beets are about a foot long and weigh 2 to 5 pounds.
The crop is solely grown to be converted into white table sugar — a scientific process once outlined on an episode of Sesame Street.
"We are getting as good a sugar beet crop as ever," Paul said. "And whatever you say about sugar, it is still a vital ingredient to cooking and does a lot more than just make stuff sweet."
The Schlagel family has grown sugar beets since it was Colorado's first true cash crop, populating the state in the 20th century with laborers from around the world and diversifying an economy previously reliant on mining and ranching. They've stuck with sugar beets as their importance in the state's economy has dwindled with fluctuating sugar commodities prices, a shrunken farm labor workforce and other industries emerging.
But now technological and research advancements have the Schlagels and other farmers growing sugar beets as efficiently as ever. Despite a diminishing amount of farmland dedicated to the crop, Colorado farmers produced more than 1 million tons of sugar beets last year for the first time since 2000.
"It is really a sustainability success story," said Rebecca Larson, the vice president and chief scientist for the Western Sugar Cooperative. "Technology has allowed us to not disturb the soil, not burn as much fuel and grow the sugar beets on fewer acres."
The biggest population growth Colorado would ever experience came around the turn of the 20th century, thanks to sugar beets.
An 1888 experiment conducted by Colorado State University precursor college Colorado A&M had determined that Colorado's soil and climate were ideal for growing sugar beets. When a German seed supplier visited the Fort Collins area shortly thereafter, Coloradoan archives say he predicted the area's real estate would double within a few years — little did he know what it would become today.
Immigrants came from various parts of the world to help plant, weed, harvest and labor in the sugar beet fields. Fort Collins grew from 3,000 residents in 1900 to more than 8,000 by 1910.
Similar growth came in the other Centennial State cities. Fort Morgan's population tripled within four years of its sugar beet industry starting, and the property prices there increased from $40 an acre to about $200 an acre.
"If you go back in history, sugar beets were the cash crop," Paul said. "They populated Colorado and built the railroads. ... People used to line up to work on your farm."
Great Western Sugar Co. processing plants popped up in more than 20 different Colorado cities — if your town had one, it was on the map.
Farmers would deliver their sugar beet harvest every fall so they could be converted into sugar crystals.
"The sugar beet crop was always the check to pay off the bank, all your bills and the farm," Paul said. "Everything else you grew was to feed your animals."
Processing plants previously operated in Fort Collins at 625 Ninth St., in the space just behind New Belgium Brewing that today houses the Fort Collins Street Department; in Windsor near the current intersection of First and Walnut streets; in Loveland at the intersection of Madison Avenue and East 11th Street; and in Greeley just east of U.S. Highway 85 at 1302 First Ave.
Sugar beet profitability began to wane in the 1950s. New regulations and competition from imported sugar cane hurt the industry.
Processing factories began to close across the state, many of which sit vacant today. Great Western Sugar Co. eventually declared bankruptcy in 1985.
In Fort Collins, a lone remnant of the factory stands over the Poudre River in Kingfisher Point Natural Area today. The suspension flume bridge that was built in 1926 to dump excess waste from the factory into a field was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
The Choice City, however, has remained influential in the world of sugar beets.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture research facility was started in the 1920s to combat disease outbreaks and has continued to operate ever since. A breeding line first developed here during the 1980s is now used around the world because it is resistant to a harmful fungus called Rhizoctonia.
Of all the past Colorado sugar factories, only Fort Morgan — which started operating in 1906 — remains active.
"There are a lot of factors that come into play, but location is probably the best reason (why Fort Morgan remains)," said Rodney Perry, Western Sugar Cooperative's president and CEO. "Fort Morgan sits in the middle of the beet growing region from the Front Range out to Yuma."
It was pitch black at 4 a.m. as Paul and Scott looked to plant their 2018 sugar beet crop before an impending storm this April. Both grew up working in the fields, hauling loads of sugar beets before school during the harvest months.
"I would tell people I knew how to drive a tractor when I was 5 years old," said a smirking Scott, now 32.
Sugar beet planting used to require horse-drawn power. Then it evolved to gas tractors, where drivers had to alternate looking forward and back in an attempt to plant a straight row.
But now the planting is done much more smoothly with GPS technology. The advancement has emerged as a common farming tool over the past decade.
"You've always wanted people to drive by your farm and say, 'Oh those are pretty straight rows,'" Paul said. "I was never that good at it. They were always slightly crooked.
"Now they are always straight."
GPS technology is also used in harvesting, fertilizing, herbicide application and sprinkler watering as computers now handle the bulk of farming chores.
Another major advancement in the sugar beet industry was the introduction of Roundup Ready seeds in 2008 — which means the plant is not harmed by the application of herbicides. Roundup Ready seeds have helped farmers increase sugar beet yields from an average of 8,000 pounds of sugar per acre to 13,000.
"It revolutionized how people farm with sugar beets," Larson said. "Before it was really hard to control weeds. Spraying herbicides killed those weeds but also would have an impact on the beets."
But "today, we don't have weeds, period," Paul added.
More advancements could be coming from the USDA sugar beet research facility in Fort Collins. Multi-year studies on enhancing yields and protecting sugar beets from plant pathogens are currently underway.
Scientists test plant breeding and study the compounds of wild sugar beet varieties. The more efficient seeds development mean less costly chemicals farmers need to apply.
The Fort Collins USDA site has made more than 120 study releases since 1961.
"We are trying to help the American farmer," said USDA sugar beet research technician Travis Vagher. "By limiting the amount of chemicals used, it increases their bottom line."
Much of the farming progress has been aimed at efficiency and making up for a limited workforce pool. It has the Schlagels and other sugar beet farmers optimistic about the future of the storied crop.
A 2017 agreement with the government of Mexico could help increase prices of U.S. sugar, a product that's purchased years in advance. There are now restrictions on how much Mexico can import to the U.S.
There are still some challenges.
Western Sugar Cooperative was fined $2 million by the state of Colorado in May for air, water and health violations at the Fort Morgan plant — odor complaints ran rampant in the city last year. The cooperative has agreed to clean up its issues.
But as the ups and downs of growing Colorado's first cash crop continue, generational sugar beet farmers remain committed to growing it.
"We have made great strides," Paul said. "We have been on this exact farm for more than 50 years and things have changed a lot."
https://ift.tt/2pZlX5E Sugar Beet News |
via Post Register
October 17, 2018 at 02:55PM
Advances in technology have drastically changed the way the sugar beet is planted, grown, harvested and the beet itself.
Beets now don’t have to be thinned, a labor-intensive job done by hand years ago. Today, one seed produces one shoot, so each seed is planted at the preferred spacing. Seeds also are herbicide and disease resistant.
“All approved beet varieties are genetically engineered, which increases yields and sugar content. Thinning and hand-weeding is no longer required,” said Mark Duffin, executive director of the Idaho Sugar Beet Growers Association in Boise.
Duffin has been executive director of the organization for 27 years which has about 540 members in Idaho. He grew up in Aberdeen where his parents and grandparents raised sugar beets.
The number of acres planted each year, of approved seed varieties, varies each year and is determined by the Amalgamated Sugar Co., because of the limited number of sugar factories that can process sugar beets.
“All beets need a home to go to — to be processed. It’s not an open market,” Duffin said. “The co-op adjusts the acreages up and down depending on the need.”
Today, there are just three sugar beet factories compared to years ago when many eastern Idaho towns had factories. In the early 1900s, Sugar City was created by the Fremont County Sugar Co., according to sugarcityidaho.gov. The company was part of the Utah-Idaho Sugar Co. and was built as farms and ranches were being established in the Upper Snake River Valley, according to the website. The town, which eventually grew to over 1,000 people, was platted close to the factory, which was built in 1904. The sugar factory closed in 1942 and dismantled, the website stated, but in its heyday it shipped sugar with the widely recognized U&I brand name to national markets via the Union Pacific Railroad.
“There’s a long history of sugar beet growing in east Idaho and northern Utah which pretty much shut down in the 1970s,” Duffin said. “It was pretty painful for those communities.”
After the co-op was founded in the 1990s some growers wanted to get back into sugar beet farming but it often if wasn’t cost effective to haul long distances to the remaining sugar factories.
Even so, there are still some farmers who grow beets in eastern Bingham County and haul to the receiving stations near Blackfoot, Rockford and Springfield, Duffin said.
The industry contributes about $2 billion to Idaho’s economy.
“It’s a very significant impact,” he said.
And the impact is felt locally too. Many who work only during the sugar beet harvest each fall enjoy the extra income, including Margaret Turpin, of Thomas, who has worked at both Liberty and the Blackfoot receiving stations. The housewife and mother of 10 has worked during beet harvest since 1997, when the Liberty station first opened. The Blackfoot station opened in 2010. For Turpin and others, the extra income comes in handy for Christmas gifts, bills, home improvements or even travel, she said.
“It’s a little extra income for us and we feel rich for a little while,” she said.
While the extra spending money is welcome, friendships made on the job are the biggest treasure.
“We keep coming back because of the friendships we make, sometimes we don’t see each other again until the next harvest, but we enjoy each other and working together,” she said.
Because the days can be long there’s little time for anything else. Depending on the weather, a typical day begins around 6:30 a.m. and ends at around 8:30 p.m., six days a week. Turpin’s first job was taking samples as beets are unloaded. Today, she weighs in the trucks that unload at the rate of about one every 2 minutes.
“We are there to meet the needs of the growers and they need to roll as many trucks as they can so they can to get their crop in. We are there to help in any way we can,” she said.
Turpin and many employees take personal pride in their work, even though the days are long and the work is repetitious.
“Beets are kinda fun, the whole community comes together during beet harvest (to the receiving stations). It’s a busy, humming place,” she said.
https://ift.tt/2NN8Hui Sugar Beet News |
via Post Register
October 17, 2018 at 02:54PM
The sugar beet harvest in northern Wyoming is nearing completion with about 70 percent of the crop in hand on Friday.
Western Sugar Cooperative senior agriculturist Mark Bjornestad says tonnage is going to be just under 29 tons (26.3 metric tons) per acre. Tonnage had been forecast to come in at a record 31 tons (28.1 metric tons) per acre in the Lovell factory district.
But Bjornestad tells the Powell Tribune that the sugar content of the beets is looking to hit a record high at nearly 18 percent on average with some growers reporting 20 percent sugar.
Cold and snow slowed the harvest some over the weekend but growers resumed harvesting this week.
Bjornestad says the harvest in the Lovell district should be 90 percent done by week's end.
Sugar Beet News |
via thenewstribune https://ift.tt/2CphS1Z
October 17, 2018 at 02:54PM
By: Jim Olson
The Yellowstone River Valley is home to about 110 growers who are part of Sidney Sugars. Jim Olson takes us on a tour to see how the company turns 32,000 acres of beets into a million tons of sugar.
Sidney Sugars Agricultural Manager, Duane Peters, says a 32.5 tons per acre crop is expected in eastern Montana / western North Dakota this year. That is slightly above average.
The Sidney Sugars harvest is about 70% complete and should wrap up in about ten days.
Sugar Beet News |
via MYNDNOW https://www.myndnow.com
October 16, 2018 at 08:48AM
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service released the latest Crop Progress report on Tuesday. In the report, harvest progress updates where given for the country's top four sugarbeet producing states, which accounted for 83% of the sugarbeet production in the U.S. in 2017.
North Dakota now leads with way with 45% of their crop harvested. That is up from 20% the previous week, but behind last year’s mark of 56%. The five-year average is 54%.
Not far behind is Minnesota at 41% harvested. They made tremendous progress from just 18% the week before. Their current pace is up from 38% at this point last year, but slightly behind the five-year average of 46%.
Idaho and Michigan are both at 34%, which matches the pace Idaho was at last year. It is also slightly above the five-year average of 29% for the Gem State.
Michigan is also ahead of their 2017 harvest progress of 28% and their five-year average of 22%. Last week, the Michigan crop was 30% harvested.
Harvest in nearly all of North Dakota and Minnesota has been shut down this week due to heavy rain, followed by accumulating snow. While temperatures remain around 25-35 degrees, things are supposed to warm up next week and growers are hopeful they can get back in the fields.