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They create the stuff of magic, equated with deliciousness. And they could make or break a family business.
Sugar beets are a mainstay crop in Wyoming. But in northern Wyoming, where the growing conditions are optimal, farmers who grow sugar beets are facing a hardship like they’ve not seen in generations.
Between a hard frost last fall that left sugar beets frozen in the ground and mounting costs for renovations in other factories in the Western Sugar cooperative, sugar beet growers in the Bighorn Basin are facing a grim financial future.
That’s according to Kurt Dobbs, the agronomist and field representative for the Bighorn Co-op in the northern half of the Bighorn Basin.
“The farmers around this area, they grow really good beets and are very good at yield,” he pointed out. “But it’s been three years in a row that they haven’t received the money that they need to receive for their crop.”
The growers in the Bighorn Basin are part of the Western Sugar Cooperative, which has factories in Lovell, Billings, Montana, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and Fort Morgan, Colorado.
The Lovell producers farm over 16,000 acres of beets collectively, according to Casey Crosby, a fourth-generation sugar beet grower in Cowley.
Crosby, who also has a masters degree in business, said the economic hit of crop losses to the local communities could exceed $14 million.
“It’s a challenging time in agriculture in general, but right now, with the issues we’ve had with our co-op, and then the weather on top of that, it’s crippled a lot of farmers,” he said.
Those issues include bad weather in two of the last three years. In between, when the harvest should have yielded a payment, Crosby said the profit went to offset costs in other areas of the Western Sugar Cooperative.
Rodney Perry, the Denver-based CEO of Western Sugar, said that the organization is working with the USDA on a disaster relief program that may provide area farmers with some much-needed assistance.
Perry noted the program is similar to the federal government’s WHIP assistance fund (Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus), which provides disaster payments to offset losses from hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms and wildfire.
Crosby said the assistance could mean the difference in whether or not many growers will be able to farm next year.
Crosby is one of the lucky ones – of the 4,000 acres that he farms with another local grower, only 700 of those acres are planted in sugar beets. But as Dobbs pointed out, there are many other farmers whose livelihoods depend on the sugar beet crop.
“The farmers have to get paid for their sugar beets and they haven’t been,” Dobbs said. “So if that continues, you will see farmers going bankrupt.”
https://ift.tt/2v8HDlY Sugar Beet News |
via Cowboy State Daily https://ift.tt/2T33Ytj
February 21, 2020 at 03:24PM
Written By: Ann Bailey
HILLSBORO – American Crystal Sugar Co. in Hillsboro apparently has finished slicing sugar beets, about three and half months earlier than it typically completes the campaign.
The company posted on its Facebook page Wednesday, Feb. 5, that the Hillsboro factory finished slicing at 3:05 p.m, Monday, Feb. 3. Calls were made by the Herald to American Crystal Sugar Co. to confirm the information, but those calls were not returned.
Typically the company’s slicing campaign at its five factory districts lasts until the middle of May and, less frequently, until June. About 3,000 farmers in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota grow sugar beets for American Crystal, which is based in Moorhead.
American Crystal factories in the North Dakota towns of Hillsboro and Drayton and the Minnesota cities of East Grand Forks, Crookston and Moorhead operate 24 hours a day during the slicing campaign, producing 150 pounds of beet sugar per second, according to the company website. Each processing season’s total sugar production is about 3 billion pounds. The company also produces about 800,000 tons of other agricultural products during its annual sugar campaign.
The Hillsboro factory slices 2.5 million tons of sugar beets annually during an average annual slice campaign of 260 to 275 days. The factory, on average, produces 8.5 million hundred-pound bags of sugar annually, the website said.
Meanwhile, the Hillsboro factory, built in 1973, employs 225 workers year-round and another 55 during the sugar beet campaign, according to the website.
In 2019, it was clear by November that slicing the beets would not take as long as it does most years. From the onset of the 2019 harvest, wet, muddy conditions hampered farmers’ harvest efforts. In early November, American Crystal told farmers to stop harvesting sugar beets because they had been damaged by unseasonably cold temperatures that left the crop unsuitable for storage.
About one-third of the cooperative’s acres – 115,000 acres – were left in the field in 2019. A good share of that acreage was in the fields of farmers who deliver their beets to the Hillsboro and East Grand Forks factory districts.
Farmers who grow sugar beets for American Crystal Sugar harvested a total of 7.7 million tons in 2019, 36% less than the 11 million tons they harvested in 2018.
As a result of the reduction in the amount of sugar beets harvested this fall, farmers will be paid $37 per ton for the 2019 crop, $17.78 per ton less they were for the 2018 crop. Meanwhile, the company will subtract $3 in “unit retains” which are withheld as an equity contribution from members and historically repaid after seven years, according to a December 2019 story by Mikkel Pates, an Agweek reporter. Agweek and the Grand Forks Herald are owned by Forum Communications.
Besides the lower 2019 payment, farmers who were unable to harvest their sugar beets are required by American Crystal to pay it back at $343 for each unharvested acre.
https://ift.tt/39PDu56 Sugar Beet News |
via Grand Forks Herald https://ift.tt/2zM6KZc
February 21, 2020 at 03:11PM
(FARGO, N.D.) – Amity Technology is proud to introduce its next advancement in sugar beet harvesting. The new, 2720 Sugar Beet Harvester offers several improvements and new features to make sugar beet harvest more efficient. This 12-Row harvester utilizes a higher volume scrub tower, Dynamic Chain Management, ISOBUS Active Depth Control, newly designed maintenance access doors and an option for larger tires or even, tracks.
Dan Younggren elected ASGA President
Washington, DC – On February 5, 2020, Dan Younggren of Hallock, Minnesota was elected President, Nate Hultgren of Raymond, Minnesota was elected Vice President, and LaMar Isaak of American Falls, Idaho was elected Treasurer of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association (ASGA) for 2020. The ASGA represents approximately 10,000 growers in eleven producing states. The three were elected by ASGA farmer board members from across the country who gathered for the ASGA annual meeting in Orlando, FL.