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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.
News and Notes from American Crystal General Agronomist, Tyler Grove
Pre-pile has gone well. We are in our third week. The first two weeks were dry so we stayed with our calendar really well, which is abnormal for us. Now, this week we have some new challenges with the rainfall, which was very welcomed.
Sugar content remains high at about 17.8%. That’s really high and that’s showing that the beets are a little on the dry side. We really did need that moisture, but the rain events will mess up our schedule a little bit this week.
Tonnage is tracking well. We’ve been missing this rain so we know it could end up where we want it to. Our estimates have not changed. Our ag staff estimate is at 30.8 tons/acre. We are going to hold that course until we see things change otherwise.
The hail damage in the Moorhead district over the weekend wasn’t widespread, but where it hit was pretty severe. We had about 2,800 acres that were damaged. That hail takes all of your leaves… all of your solar panels... right off the plant. It’s really a bad time of year for that to happen.
How Hail Damage Effects Sugar Content:
The beet wants to repair its solar panels so it pulls sugar reserves from the root as building materials. The sugar content will start dropping as the beet begins to put on new leaves.
News and Notes from SMBSC Research Director, Mark Bloomquist
We have had a variable crop due to the moisture conditions we’ve had all summer long. We are looking at starting our pre-pile harvest on Tuesday, Sept. 5th. We are continuing to fight Cercospora. It’s been a nemesis for us for several years in a row and our wet and humid weather conditions this past season have brought the disease on again. We are vigorously trying to stop it.
While Cercospora pressure is higher than it was in 2017, it still isn’t quite as bad as the 2016 growing season. In 2016, we had fields turning brown earlier in the season than we do right now. The variability of our crop this year has made the spraying a lot more difficult.
News and Notes from Minn-Dak Research Agronomist, Mike Metzger
The growing season for Minn-Dak is coming along very well. Our staff took our second round of yield samples last week and turns out we have 26.6 tons out there right now. Sugar content is just shy of 15%, which is actually pretty good for us. The purity is the highest we’ve had in a couple decades for the August sample.
All that put together, the staff’s estimate is 31.1 tons/acre.
Cercospora Leaf Spot:
Cercospora is okay right now. Most guys have four to five applications on. The program is holding very well. Yes, you can find Cercospora out in the field, but it’s not anywhere near economic threshold. We are feeling very good about that.
With slicing going into July, we have delayed our pre-harvest until the latter part of September. Around September 17-18 is when we are looking at putting our first beets on the ground. Stockpile harvest is set to begin at or around October 1.
A loader digs into a 120,000-ton pile of beets that was hard-frozen with ventilation, then covered with insulation, and finally “shrink-wrapped” with plastic. About 1.5 feet of deteriorated beets on the tops of piles insulate the rest, which is frozen to the top. Photo taken June 5, 2018, at Wahpeton, N.D. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)
WAHPETON, N.D. — Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative was supposed to have been done slicing sugar beets June 5, but is expected to continue through the end of the month — perhaps into July. That's due to a large 2017 crop and an expensive equipment breakdown in March.
The company typically tries to size the storage piles for a May 20 end-date. The board projected the longer campaign based on a 9,700-ton-per-day slice to accommodate a 30.5-ton per-acre crop.
Things were going fine until the company's diffusion tower broke down in mid-March, interrupting processing for about 13 days. That was followed by the third-warmest May on record.
A diffusion tower is a key component of the factory that extracts about 85 percent of the sugar and there is only one per factory — no backup. Beet cossettes — slices of beets — go into the bottom of the tower, which is a vessel that is about 35 feet wide and 115 feet tall. It works like a big grain auger, with flighting that slowly lifts the beet pulp up as hot water cascades down, flowing through and removing the sugar. When the pulp comes out the top, it is dried and sold as livestock feed.
When full, the tower holds 3,000 tons of compressed pulp.
"When your diffusion tower fails, your whole factory stops because you don't have a backup diffusion tower," he says. Components in the bottom third of the tower had to be replaced.
BMA, the German manufacturer who made the tower, last summer had done a detailed inspection and concluded it was in good shape. "None of us could have anticipated it," Wickstrom says of the failure. A cause has not been determined.
Wickstrom praised the Minn-Dak staff and the repair teams for getting the piece repaired in 13 days, rather than the 30-day norm. BMA had a technician on-site within 36 hours of the failure.
BMA air-freighted a new set of bottom screens from Germany to fit the factory's unique size. Other equipment was twisted and custom-made at machine shops "from Winnipeg to Minneapolis," Wickstrom said. Two crews of 20 outside contractors were on site 24 hours a day, taking broken pieces out of the tower and putting in new pieces as they arrived.
Wickstrom was "very disappointed that it failed, but we did everything we possibly could to minimize the downside," he says.
About 130,000 tons of beets would have been processed through that down time. Minn-Dak had expected to process 2.56 million tons but now expect to slice 2.43 million to 2.46 million tons.
The good news is the beets are storing better than expected.
In mid-May, a pile at the factory that was simply covered in plastic had about a foot deep of deteriorated beets on the top — "empty carcasses" — and that insulated the beets below. Even after 90-degree days in May, the piles are "frozen to the top," insulated by a slimy layer of 1.5 feet of deteriorated beets on the surface.
The company is working on its final exterior pile and then will go to its three sheds with 80,000 tons each. Minn-Dak for the first time leased "chillers" to keep the beets in those sheds frozen. "We added a chiller system to the middle shed five weeks ago, and when we opened the doors to put the chiller in that shed, there were ice chunks on the floor," Wickstrom says.
"We had a nice cold winter to get them frozen very hard. That's certainly helping us now and paying off," he said.
Some of the cost may be covered by insurance, but final estimates on that won't come until September or October.
Last November, Minn-Dak projected a "conservative" $32.50 per ton for the 2017 crop, based on average quality sugar. The company made an interim payment June 1 based on $30 per ton for average quality beets.
He doesn't anticipate changing that payment from the $30 to $32.50 per ton range, even with the costs of the breakdown. Shareholder costs vary, and most growers can break even or better at $32 a ton, he said.
The two big unknowns are whether the beets will store for 25 to 30 days and how much and how quickly Minn-Dak's insurance company will cover the multi-million dollar repairs. "It's obviously a very large claim," Wickstrom says, but the company insures other beet cooperatives and "we're optimistic they'll be fair."
The delayed slice campaign will mean the company's 2018 crop harvest date will be around Sept. 18. Over the past five years, the harvest at times has started as early as late August.
Typically, harvest starts from the third week in August until mid-September, depending on crop size and development.
The co-op also cut back 2018 acres to 88,000 planted acres, down from 95,000 acres in 2017. That assumes 30-ton per-acre average yield that growers have achieved over the past three years.
American Crystal Sugar Co., based in Moorhead, Minn., completed its slice May 23. They harvested more than 12 million tons, a record, and started processing in their five factories on Aug. 17, "It was a very good storage year," said Brian Ingulsrud, vice president for agriculture. "We had a cooler than normal spring which really helped for good storage of the beets."
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June 12, 2018 at 11:28AM
By Pamela Knudson | Grand Forks Herald
Tyler Seim of Grand Forks has launched a new crafts distillery, making vodka from sugar beets in an operation based at 4051 Gateway Drive. Seim began the Red Pine Distillery in February, and his products have been available in retail businesses since March, he said.
His business is heavily focused on supplying products to liquor stores in Grand Forks and Fargo, but also has retail customers in Devils Lake, Minot and Williston, he said.
He estimates that he is producing about 50 to 75 cases of vodka a month, the amount that he likes to have on hand to fill orders from his distributor, he said.
But he has the capacity to produce 150 to 200 cases a month, he said. Each case holds 12, 750-milliliter bottles.
The process of producing a batch of vodka takes about three weeks, he said.
He obtains sugar beets from David Thompson of Thompson Brothers, a farm group located 10 miles north of East Grand Forks, next to the farm of his parents, Darren and Debbie Nelson, where he grew up.
In his distillery, Seim also uses a concentrated sugar beet syrup from American Crystal Sugar in Hillsboro, N.D., where he is employed full time as an engineer.
Seim sells his products to Johnson Brothers, a distributor in Fargo that has also introduced his products to its restaurant and bar clients, he said.
He is experimenting with gin and another product that's similar to rum, also with a sugar beet base, he said, and is planning to venture into the production of whiskey and brandy, also using sugar beets.
Seim earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from UND in 2015.
"A big part of the curriculum was distillation, the separation of chemicals," he said.
That sparked his interest in the production of beer, wine and spirits and "grains, grapes, apples—whatever you can ferment."
His new business combines his interest in distillation with the use of agricultural products that are prevalent in this area.
"It was something I found interesting, as far as the product goes," Seim said.
He's intrigued by "the variety of products you can make out of the same ingredients."
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May 14, 2018 at 08:40AM
North Dakota, Michigan & Idaho Sugarbeet Planting Progress Now Ahead of Average
The USDA released the Crop Progress Report for the week of May 6th. In the report, planting progress data for the country’s top four sugarbeet producing states were listed.
Sugarbeet planting across the country has seen tremendous progress over the last week. Percentage-wise, Michigan had the biggest gains. The Wolverine State now has 80% of his projected sugarbeet acres planted, ahead of last year’s pace of 46% and the five-year average of 59%. Last week, Michigan had just 13% of its acres planted.
North Dakota has crossed the halfway point at 66% completed. Despite being two percentage points behind last year’s pace, N.D. is now ahead of the five year average of 53%.
Idaho is nearing completion of its sugarbeet planting season. Ninety-two percent of the Gem State’s projected acres are in the ground, ahead of the five-year average by one percentage point. Last year at this point, Idaho had 87% of its beets planted.
Minnesota, the largest sugarbeet producing state, is sitting at 50% completed. That is up from just 10% last week, but behind the five-year average of 57% and last year’s mark of 74%.
Stay tuned to SugarPub.com throughout the growing season for news covering all U.S. sugarbeet producing regions!
Sugarbeet Planting Commences for Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota
The USDA released the Crop Progress Report for the week of April 29th. In the report, planting progress data for the country’s top four sugarbeet producing states were listed.
Sugarbeet planting is officially underway for the country’s largest sugar producing area; the Red River Valley. Both Minnesota and North Dakota have put 10% of their projected crop in the ground. The five year average for Minnesota is 44%, while North Dakota’s is 38%
The Michigan planting season is also underway. Thirteen percent of their crop has been planted, up from one percent last week. At this point last year, Michigan was sitting at 28% completed. Their five year average is 35%.
Idaho remains the only state listed in the report that is ahead of both last year’s pace and the five year average. The Gem State has planted 85% of its projected sugarbeet acreage, up from 66% last week. Both the five year average and last year’s progress for this week is 83%.
Jason Thorson uses a grease gun on his 36-row sugar beet planter in the yard of the family farm Monday. Thorson farms with his brother, Chad Thorson, far left, in Polk County. The Thorson brothers started planting beets last Friday and say the start is a little later than usual but some years have been later. Austin Koenig, center, works for the Thorsons. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
By April Baumgarten | Forum News Service
Red River Valley farmers are optimistic about getting crops in the ground after cold and wet conditions delayed them from hitting the fields.
Producers started planting crops this weekend in northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota, taking advantage of mild temperatures and drier conditions.
Chad Thorson of rural East Grand Forks started Friday and will plant soybeans, sugar beets, wheat and edible beans this season.
"Everybody is excited to get out of the shop and out of the yard and into the field," he said, adding conditions are good for seeding and the soil has enough moisture for planting.
Winter weather stretched into spring, bringing colder-than-normal temperatures for early April. Farmers in the Valley typically start planting small grains in mid-April, followed by corn and soybeans in early or mid-May. Snow didn't start to melt until mid-April, pushing the start date for planting season back.
Traill County saw more snow than most parts of northeast North Dakota, which, along with the Goose River, caused overland flooding in fields last week, said Alyssa Scheve, the North Dakota State University extension agent for Traill County.
The waters have since receded significantly from the fields, Scheve said Monday, and farmers likely will get in the fields later this week.
"We're pretty optimistic with the farming situation," she said when asked if farmers feel they will get all of their crops in this season.
Thorson agreed, adding most farmers have the equipment to get their crops in quickly.
"Conditions are changing fast," Thorson said. "We got a good start. ... If the weather holds, we'll have everything in in a timely fashion."
Farmers also started planting last week in Pembina County, said Samantha Lahman, extension agent for Pembina County. Little snow fell this winter in the county, and farmers would like to see rain, she said.
"We need some moisture to dampen everything down," she said.
Showers and thunderstorms were possible for Monday night into Tuesday morning for the Valley, with the greatest chance for severe weather in southeast North Dakota and central Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service. Most of the week should bring sunny skies with high temperatures in the mid-60s to low 70s near Grand Forks, meteorologists forecast.
Rain could return this weekend, the weather service said.
North Dakota farmers are projected to plant 6.4 million acres of spring wheat this year, a 20 percent increase from last year, according to a March 29 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The latest projections also estimate 7.1 million acres of soybeans will be planted in the state, which is unchanged from last year.
Corn is set to be down 11 percent from last year, with North Dakota farmers expected to plant about 3 million acres this season. About 199,000 acres in the state will be dedicated to sugar beets, the report said.
In Minnesota, farmers are set to plant 7.5 million acres of corn this season, the lowest amount planted in the state since 2006, the USDA said. About 7.9 acres will be dedicated to soybeans, or about 3 percent less than last year, according to the agency's estimates for Minnesota. Spring wheat likely will see a 38 percent increase in planting, with Minnesota farmers estimated to dedicate 1.6 million acres to the crop.
Farmers also are expected to plant more sugar beets than last year—the USDA projects almost 423,000 acres will be set aside for the crop in Minnesota.
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May 1, 2018 at 01:13PM
2018 sugarbeet planting remains behind schedule for most of the country.
The USDA released the Crop Progress Report for the week of April 16th. In the report, planting progress data for the country’s top four sugarbeet producing states were listed.
Idaho made significant progress from last week, having 47% of their crop in the ground compared to just eight percent the week before. Last year at this point, Idaho had 43% of their beets planted. The five year average is 51%.
Michigan has one percent of their beets planted. That is unchanged from last week. Their five year average for the third week of April is four percent.
Both Minnesota and North Dakota have yet to put any beets in the ground. Last year, Minnesota had 16% of their planting completed, just two percentage points shy of the five year average. North Dakota had 10% planted, which is also two percentage points behind their five year average.
By Troy Krause
The final results for the region’s sugar beet crop have not yet been determined, but those who have seen the numbers are looking at this year’s yield with a smile.
“Farmers had a good year,” said Todd Geselius, Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative (SMBSC) vice-president of agriculture. “It may even be a record.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the average sugar beet yield in 2016 across the state was 30 tons per acre. Estimates for 2017 show at least a half-ton increase over that.
In addition, the sugar beets that have been processed are showing a good sugar content. The average sugar content is in the 16.3 percent range, but this year the beets coming in are higher than that.
So, with a good crop in from the fields, it makes sense for those who are processing those beets into sugar to ensure they are still in good condition when they travel from the sites where they have been piled to the plant.
Unlike corn or beans that go to the elevator and are shielded from the elements, sugar beets are hauled from the field to a number of SMBSC sites throughout the region. Those sugar beets are then piled and await further transport.
In the past, those piles were at the mercy of the elements. When the pile got too hot, there was spoilage. If they froze and then thawed there was spoilage.
The key for those working with the harvested sugar beets was finding a way to maintain a consistent climate for them as they sat.
Prior to the 2016 harvest, officials at SMBSC began working on a plan that would address that issue, and as a result it installed a system that when in use keeps the pile of sugar beets frozen.
Along the sides of the pile located a few miles west of Redwood Falls one will notice this system. Geselius said the technology works to keep the sugar beets cold regardless of the external temperature through the use of fans and a series of tubes to push air throughout the pile maintaining that cold temperature.
“Cold beets store better,” said Geselius, adding while one can see the fan units the tubes are placed in culverts below the pile.
Geselius added the technology has been installed at other sites in the region as well, adding after one year of use they appear to be a good investment.
In previous years there was an assumed loss due to fluctuations in the temperature where the sugar beet piles were placed, but with this new technology those loss numbers are expected to drop dramatically.
“We think this is going to be a very useful piece of technology,” said Geselius.
The technology allows the cooperative to keep the beets in the piles for a longer period of time. Geselius said in the past the rule of thumb was that the beets in a pile could not be there beyond March 1. With this new technology they could remain piled up into May.
“After May it gets too warm,” said Geselius.
The technology has been placed permanently at the sites, because officials at SMBSC are confident they are going to make a positive impact on the final result – the amount of sugar being processed at the Renville County plant.
The SMBSC is 100 percent owned by shareholders, with approximately 500 shareholders /growers in involved. There are about 375 people employed full-time through the cooperative, with an added 475 seasonal employees brought on during the harvest season.
To learn more about SMBSC and the process of getting sugar from sugar beets, visit its Web site at www.smbsc.com.
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December 13, 2017 at 02:01PM
By Mike Spieker
FARGO, N.D. – American Crystal Sugar Company held its annual shareholders meeting December 7th in Fargo. Tom Astrup, the co-op’s president and CEO said the projected initial gross beet payment for the 2017 crop is $46 per ton.
That projected payment is higher than last year’s final payment of $42.45 per ton, mainly because the sugar content of the 2017 crop was higher than that of 2016.
The 2016 sugarbeet crop yielded a record average of 30.4 tons per acres, with an average sugar content of 17.02 percent, stated a release by American Crystal. Better than forecasted sugar prices and good operating results in 2016, including lower operating costs combined to raise the final payment over estimates made earlier in the year. The total shareholder payments for the 2016 crop reached $500 million.
While the 2017 crop didn’t quite reach last year’s record, shareholders still produced a solid 30.2 tons per acre. What may be more important, however, was the higher sugar content of this year’s crop, which came in at 18.11 percent.
So Far, So Good
Despite the warmer than average temperatures in the Red River Valley, Astrup says the sugarbeets are storing nicely. “So far, the weather has been almost ideal,” he said. “We’ve had cool weather in late October and November. Now we are receiving our first shot of winter, which has allowed us to turn on the fans to freeze those beets down.”
Red River Valley sugarbeet growers produced an overall tonnage record for American Crystal in 2017, coming in at 12 million tons grown on 400,000 acres. That mark broke the previous record set in 2006 at 11.91 million ton grown on 500,000 acres.
Astrup says he expects the processing campaign to run until the end of May at a few of American Crystal’s factories.
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.
The theme of American Crystal Sugar Company's 2017 annual meeting was "We Grow." This video was featured during the annual meeting last week in Fargo.
Minn-Dak Farmers Co-op of Wahpeton, North Dakota held its annual meeting this week at the Fargo Holiday Inn.
FARGO, N.D. — Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative of Wahpeton, N.D., notched its 45th annual meeting at the Fargo Holiday Inn, celebrating another big crop and payments at profitable levels.
Kurt Wickstrom, Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative president and CEO, announced $32.50 per ton as an initial payment, "which we hope is conservative," he said. That's "not a great number" but a "pretty significant improvement" over last year, which was bedeviled by processing difficulties.
The co-op's 2017 crop averaged 32.3 tons per harvested acre, compared to 2016 at 32.4 tons. The company reduced planted acres by 17 percent and growers still were asked to leave 5 percent of their beets in the field unharvested.
Growers harvested 30.6 tons per planted acre (with non-harvested acres taken out). The initial payment is designed to produce $1,000 per acre in profits, which should help carry the load when corn and soybean prices are low, he said.
"Quite honestly, they need it," Wickstrom said, noting that grower costs have increased over the years.
Shareholders delivered 2.91 million tons, which is at the outer edge, at 17 percent sugar content, versus 15.7 percent in 2016, and purity at 89.4 percent compared to 88 percent in 2016. The co-op expects to process beets "right until the end of May" in 2018.
"The improvement in sugar content and quality is likely due to the intensive cercospora leaf spot management by growers," he said. The delivered sugar increased 1.25 percentage points because of better disease control. Most growers sprayed four or five times or more.
This is the second year Minn-Dak has exported beet pulp pellets to China as a source for that country's growing dairy industry. Wickstrom discussed a "necessity" to find co-op efficiencies and at the grower level, "assuming soft market prices going forward."
Wickstrom said the co-op over the next several months will ask growers whether they'd accept a system that would incentivize them to produce higher recoverable sugar per ton.
"We can only process so many tons of beets," Wickstrom said. Growers can affect that in various ways, including nutrient management, variety selection and disease control.
Brent Davison of Tintah, Minn., stepped aside after serving 14 years on the board, including the past five as chairman. Davison's father, Earl, had served as the second board chairman at Minn-Dak, which was the first of the beet sugar companies established as a farmer-owned cooperative. Davison, 67, said his most important accomplishment was helping the board select a changeover in management to Wickstrom. He said he decided to step aside prior to reaching his 15-year maximum to make way for younger leaders.
Davison said a changeover in the processing staff bodes well for the future. "With new hires, a new culture, a kind of a new attitude, I think we're on our way to bigger and better things," he said. He said the domestic sugar producers continue to battle with the Sugar Users Association and must defend their political situation.
Wickstrom said the Washington outlook is "confused" on the North American Free Trade Agreement and the farm bill. He said the co-op failed in an effort to preserve a pass-through deduction in the congressional tax reform package. The lost Section 1999 DPAD (Domestic Producer Activities Deduction) for cooperatives to pass through to members will cost the average 500-acre beet co-op shareholder $15,000. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., sponsored a measure that failed in the Senate, and the DPAD also failed in the House version.
Wickstrom said June 6, 2017, amendments "appear to be working" to stem the tide of sugar imports illegally flowing from Mexico under NAFTA. The amendments went into effect in October 2017.
American Crystal Sugar Co. of Moorhead, Minn., holds its annual meeting in Fargo on Thursday, in conjunction with the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.
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December 6, 2017 at 03:17PM
By Mikkel Pates | Forum News Service
Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on Nov. 30 introduced an amendment that would retain the "Domestic Production Activities Deduction" for agriculture. If the amendment gets added to the Senate bill and the bill passes, it would preserve lawmakers' ability to bring up the topic in reconciliation with the House.
The provision is called the Section 199 tax deduction. As co-ops like Minn-Dak pay their shareholders for their beets, the individual shareholders are allowed to deduct a portion of that from their income taxes.
Minn-Dak flows through $4 million to $7 million in deductions to its shareholder-growers. The impact for a 500-acre Minn-Dak grower is about $15,000, Wickstrom says. The issue will likely be a point of discussion at the co-op's Dec. 5 annual meeting in Fargo.
American Crystal Sugar Co., based in Moorhead, Minn., is working on the same issue. "Valley-wide, we estimate that the loss of Section 199 will result in an annual net tax increase for our shareholders of $9 (million) to $14 million just for American Crystal," says Kevin Price, American Crystal's vice president of government affairs.
That's an $11 million to $21 million annual hit for the Red River Valley in sugar beets alone. Other co-ops have a similar problem.
"Of course the timing couldn't be worse given the ag economy with depressed commodity prices. Our growers need all the tools that they have. This would be a fairly significant hit for them," Wickstrom says, adding, "Sometimes these bills move forward without an understanding as to what the impact is going to be for those involved."
He says individual cooperatives, as well as the National Council of Farm Cooperatives, are working to educate elected representatives.
$1B of $1.5T
Jon Doggett, executive vice president of the National Corn Growers Association, says the co-op deduction is one of the important issues within the tax bill. The NCGA is one of 160 groups who have signed a letter urging the House Ways and Means Committee not to take that provision out because it's important to the cooperatives.
"A lot of our members are co-op members," he says. "We're pushing on that one, but that's going to be a heavy, heavy lift because it costs money to put that back in."
Doggett thinks that's about $1 billion out of a reform package worth $1.5 trillion. He says the problem with these kinds of bills is that they solve one problem but create another problem for someone else.
"You can rob Peter to pay Paul, but sooner or later Peter is going to get pretty upset," he says.
Doggett, who spoke on a panel at the Northern Ag Expo in Fargo on Nov. 29, says agriculture needs to be wary of being cut as conservative members look to sequestration — across-the-board spending cuts — to offset the trillion-dollar tax cuts.
The NCGA sees pluses and minuses within the tax bill but is not taking a position on it.
"It's a marginal plus for most of our growers," he says, noting the organization doesn't take a position on the overall bill because there are different versions that can change quickly.
"When we get to a final, final bill, we may may take a look at it and make that decision," he says.
Other important pieces include how farmers can expense new and used farm equipment and how they use cash accounting and depreciation schedules.
Doggett thinks the tax bill and appropriations bill schedules will have a big influence in determining what's in a new farm bill and when it's passed. He thinks the earliest a farm bill will be addressed will be February or March, but it's likelier in the summer.
"There are even a few folks very quietly saying we could use another extension," he says.
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December 4, 2017 at 04:40PM
Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers, Dylan Young, Josh Deal and Beth Deal create fun harvest video with drone footage.
View the video directly on the Ideal Farms' Facebook Page.
In Minnesota, producers are forecast to bin 18.9 million cwt, a 12 percent increase from last year. They are expected to harvest 45,500 acres, up 3,500 acres from last year.
The increased forecasts come after a relatively dry year in the Red River Valley, at least compared with last year. Excessive rain in 2016 prevented farmers from harvesting some of their crops, especially in northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota.
The Red River Valley has had average to slightly above-average rainfall, though parts of it are "abnormally dry," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor website.
Still, potato yields in North Dakota and Minnesota are estimated at 340 cwt per acre (up 40 cwt from last year) and 415 cwt per acre (up 15 cwt from 2015), respectively, according to the USDA. The quality of potatoes also is expected to be better than recent years, industry leaders said.
Sugar beet production in Minnesota is projected to hit a record high of 12.7 million tons, up 2 percent from the record set last year, according to the USDA. North Dakota should hit 6.5 million tons, up 4 percent from last year, forecasters predicted. Yields for both states should be up slightly from last year with about 31 tons per acre, according to the report.
Acres harvested this year were up 3 percent from last year in North Dakota, with harvesters there combing through 209,000 acres this season, according to the USDA. Minnesota is expected to harvest 411,000 acres of beets, about 6,000 less than last year.
Harvesters had an easier time bringing in the beet harvest, with the weather cooperating to allow producers to wrap up early in mid- to late October, industry leaders said. Sugar content was up from last year, with industry leaders saying the beet harvest had quality plants.
American Crystal Sugar Co. is projecting a stronger initial payment for this year's crop compared with 2016, according to a recent report from Forum News Service. A shareholder letter put those numbers at $46 per ton, minus $4 for unit retains.
The same letter said 2016 crop payments came at $42.45 per ton.
Corn, soybeans expected to dip
Farmers in North Dakota and Minnesota have most of their corn harvested for the season, but they are behind last year's pace, according to the USDA.
North Dakota producers are about 76 percent done with the corn crop as of Saturday, according to the NASS progress report released Monday. That's compared with 83 percent last year and the five-year average of 85 percent.
Minnesota farmers, who harvested 79 percent of their crop as of Saturday, were about 12 days behind the five-year average and well behind the 93 percent harvested at that time last year, NASS said.
The soybean harvest wrapped up in early November, about the same time as last year, according to the USDA.
The USDA predicted last week North Dakota corn producers would bring in 427 million bushels, down 17 percent compared with 2016's harvest. Minnesota should produce 1.45 billion bushels, down 6 percent from last year.
Yields in Minnesota are forecast to average 190 bushels per acre, up 6 bushels from 2016, according to the report. North Dakota's average yields are estimated to drop by 24 bushels per acre from last year to 134 bushels per acre, according to the USDA.
Soybean production in North Dakota and Minnesota is forecast at 249 million bushels and 373 million bushels, slightly below last year's production, according to the report. Average yields for the crop in Minnesota should see no change with 46 bushels per acre, while North Dakota's yields are forecast at 35 bushels per acre, down about 6 bushels per acre from last year, the report said.
Sugar Beet News,Potato News |
via www.inforum.com http://www.inforum.com
November 15, 2017 at 11:36AM
By Kenneth Chase | WDAZ News
And we’re not talking about weather.
A bump in beet prices could mean big bucks, when it's time for beet farmers to get this year's hard-earned cash.
A local beet farmer says times have been tough, but they're about to get better.
That’s because American Crystal Sugar released forecast payments for this year’s crop, and they’re estimating payments of 46 dollars per ton. That’s up nearly 4 dollars from last year.
A local farmer says this money will go back into the Grand Forks economy.
Sugar beets are a hot commodity in the Red River Valley, with struggling returns.
“Harvest went pretty smooth. We had maybe one—gosh, we got shut down for one evening,” said sugar beet farmer of Adams Family Farm, Chris Adams.
"The last 4 or 5 years, farmers have not been making anything. You know, so they're behind every year, so they're having to pay back for last year with New Year financing"
Farming can be risky.
"It is very stressful,” said Adams.
At times, it can be tough to hit a bottom line.
"We have a lot of money sitting in the ground for Mother Nature to do what she wants to do to it,” said Adams.
But this year Mother Nature cooperated, and the beets could be worth more than they have been in previous years.
"With that extra payment coming out, yeah, you get, obviously, put that money back into the community,” said Adams.
Which means more money to be spent on the farm.
“The most obvious would probably be new pick-ups. I mean, really, you see all the new pick-ups driving around town.”
Which could be a boom for local businesses.
"Dumped back into the farm, which would be equipment sales, and this and that, and you know, land rent, and land opportunities for new people,” said Adams.
A waiting game for producers who are hoping for a win.
Farmers will learn the final prices per ton for beets next fall.
Sugar Beet News |
via WDAZ http://www.wdaz.com
November 13, 2017 at 03:08PM