American Crystal Sugar, RRV Grower’s Association Meeting Provides Sugarbeet Industry Update

The sugar company wasn't able to harvest 2,200 of its 390,000


FARGO, N.D. — More than 1,200 sugarbeet experts gather at the American Crystal Sugar and Red River Valley Sugarbeet Grower’s joint annual meeting.

The weather hasn’t been much of a friend to farmers this year, which has ultimately impacted American Crystal Sugar.

The company wasn’t able to harvest 2,200 of its 390,000 acres.

“It’s painful for those who had to leave them behind but there was a time around the middle of October when the weather was more like January, December than it was October. I thought we were at risk of losing many more acres than that. But our shareholders worked and worked at it and dug through the mud,” said Tom Astrup, president and CEO of American Crystal Sugar.

Farmer Dustin McDonald understands how much harder the harvest was this year. He normally starts harvesting his sugarbeets on October 1 and it takes him about a week or so to finish.

“We actually didn’t finish until November 1 this year which is quite a bit later than we’d like but it was a battle to say the least,” McDonald said.

Last year, American Crystal Sugar harvested 12 million tons of sugar beets and this year they took in one million fewer.

At the company’s annual meeting, American Crystal Sugar CEO and president Tom Astrup also discussed how the NAFTA agreement will affect the sugar beet industry.

He says it won’t do much other than continue to govern the trade of sugar with Mexico. But he says our northern neighbor was granted a small, additional quota access to U.S. refined sugar.

“Canada’s a net importer of sugar so in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really make sense to grant them more access into the U.S. market. We’d rather it not be there but the volume is small enough that we don’t expect to actively oppose it,” Astrup said.

Astrup says the company is also satisfied with the work being done on the farm bill, which Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson expects to be completed by next week.

“As long as we get this bill done before the end of the year, it’s going to be time enough even though it’s been delayed. If we would’ve gone into next year, then it gets to be a problem,” Peterson said.

In 2014, the House passed the Farm Bill by five votes.

This year, it passed with a little over 100.

The House and Senate are meeting to hammer out the final details before it goes to President Trump’s desk.

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