WHEATLAND, N.D. – With 30 percent of the American Crystal Sugar Company (ACSC) sugarbeets unharvested due to wet and frozen weather and soil conditions, company leaders and farmer-members met with elected officials to determine their next steps moving forward.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Congressman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., traveled to the Weber Farm on Nov. 26, for a meeting to discuss getting some assistance for sugarbeet growers.
“It started out as a tough year because of the low commodity prices, and of course with this weather, it’s just compounded it,” said Hoeven. “What we’re trying to do is get some assistance for the sugarbeet growers under the WHIP+ program.”
The Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus provides financial assistance for crop losses experienced in 2018 and 2019.
Located near Wheatland, N.D., the Webers offered a large machine shed where the meeting was held.
Those attending included Tom Astrup, CEO of American Crystal Sugar Company, Dan Younggren, president of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, and Harrison Weber, incoming executive director of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.
Hoeven and Peterson asked the leadership and growers what they needed for assistance. The meeting followed producer meetings that Hoeven and Peterson organized with USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey earlier in November.
The sugarbeet leaders asked Hoeven and Peterson to continue to work with Northey to secure disaster assistance funding for sugarbeet growers and/or cooperatives.
The cooperative and growers association provided information on the harvest to Northey on Friday, Nov. 21.
They also want Hoeven, who is Chairman of the Senate Ag Appropriations Committee, and Peterson, who is Chairman of the House Ag Committee, to urge USDA to avoid any premature actions including increasing sugar imports.
The USDA offered a press release, on Nov. 25, notifying the Department of Commerce of the need for an additional 100,000 short tons of refined sugar from Mexico. This action is consistent with the Commerce Department’s Agreement Suspending the Countervailing Duty Investigation on Sugar From Mexico.
The increase doesn’t change the total amount of sugar imports from Mexico but increases the proportion of refined sugar.
At the Nov. 26 meeting in Wheatland, ACSC officials said they were unable to fill all of their contracts because of the shortage of sugarbeets.
The November 2019 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate report projected a decline of 572,000 short tons raw value in U.S. sugar production.
On behalf of all of the sugarbeet growers, Younggren thanked the elected officials and USDA for their work on the sugarbeet growers behalf. He said the disastrous sugarbeet growing season and the harvest stress were unprecedented throughout the Red River Valley.
Note: This reporter listened into this meeting via cell phone.