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By Mike Spieker
FARGO, N.D. – American Crystal Sugar Company held their annual shareholders meeting Thursday at the Fargo Holiday Inn. Tom Astrup, president and CEO of American Crystal announced the expansion of the company’s Drayton, N.D factory.
The project is expected to increase the factory’s output by 30% and increase output five to seven percent companywide. American Crystal spent between $20 million and $25 million on the expansion during the summer of 2017. The estimated total of the four-year project is estimated to be around $100 million.
In 2017, American Crystal shareholders produced a record 12 million ton crop on just 400,000 acres – 100,000 less than 10 years ago. With the higher yields, American Crystal is looking to “take advantage of the yield increases” by increasing their processing capacity, says Astrup.
“It probably doesn’t mean there will be more acres of sugarbeets,” said Astrup on the expansion at the Drayton factory. “What is probably means is if yields continue to increase, acres won’t decline as much as they have in the past.”
Of the company’s five plants, Astrup explains why Drayton was selected for the expansion – “It’s economics,” he said. “We have more beets grown in the Drayton factory district than we can process there.” As a result, excess sugarbeets are trucked south to other factories for processing. The Drayton expansion will significantly reduce those freight costs.
Before the expansion, Drayton averaged a 6,900 ton/day capacity. When completed, the factory is expected to be operated at 9,000 ton/day.
Curt Knutson elected chairman of American Crystal Sugar Company's Board of Directors
MOORHEAD, MINN. – December 8, 2017 – Curt Knutson, Fisher, Minn. was elected chairman at American Crystal Sugar Company’s Board of Directors reorganization meeting following the cooperative’s annual meeting held on December 7, 2017 at the Fargo Holiday Inn. Knutson was previously vice chairman and has been a director representing the Crookston Factory District since 2007. He has been a sugarbeet grower for 45 years. He also served on the boards of United Sugars and Midwest Agri-Commodities.
At the same meeting, David Mueller was elected vice chairman. Mueller was elected as a director in 2009 and represents the Hillsboro Factory District. He has been a sugarbeet grower near Cummings, North Dakota since 1985 and previously served on the Executive Committee of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association Board.
American Crystal also welcomed three new directors to its Board following elections held in November.
Ernie Dusek joined the Board representing the Drayton Factory District. He raises sugarbeets and has farmed south of Grafton, ND. He previously served on the Board of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.
Mark Nelson joined the Board representing the East Grand Forks Factory District. He raises sugarbeets and has farmed near Oslo, Minn. He was most recently on the Executive Committee of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association and served as their Minnesota Legislative Liaison.
Cindy Pulskamp joined the Board representing the Hillsboro Factory District. She is part of a family farm north of Hillsboro, ND that has been growing sugarbeets since 1958. She most recently served on the Executive Committee of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association as Secretary.
Three Directors also exited American Crystal’s Board after reaching their term limit of four consecutive three year terms.
Robert Green served as the Board’s chairman for the past six years. He has been a director since 2005 representing the Drayton Factory District. He farms sugarbeets near St. Thomas, ND. He also served on the boards of United Sugars and Midwest Agri-Commodities.
John Brainard represented the Hillsboro Factory District as a director since 2005. He has grown sugarbeets since 1998 and was previously on the executive committee of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.
Brian Erickson has been a director since 2005 representing the East Grand Forks Factory District. He has been a sugarbeet grower for over 30 years. He also served on the boards of United Sugars and Midwest Agri-Commodities.
American Crystal Sugar Company is an agricultural cooperative owned by 2,650 shareholders in the Red River Valley involved in the growing and processing of sugarbeets. American Crystal is the largest beet sugar producer in the United States. American Crystal operates sugar factories at East Grand Forks, Crookston and Moorhead, Minnesota, Drayton and Hillsboro, North Dakota, and Sidney, Montana. Its corporate headquarters and technical services center are located in Moorhead.