Friday, September 29, 2023

Montana-Dakota Beet Growers Respond to Sidney Sugars Closure

by Colter Brown

The following is a response from the Montana-Dakota Beet Growers Association Board to the closure of the Sidney Sugars plant by American Crystal.

For almost the last 100 years, the sugar beet producers in our area have been recognized as some of the best sugar beet growers in the nation. We have always taken pride in growing the highest quality crop possible every year. We, the growers, are disappointed in American Crystal Sugar Company’s decision in closing our local Sidney, MT factory.

The growers of our association have made every attempt to keep Sidney Sugars a viable operation, ever since it was purchased by American Crystal Sugar Company in 2002. Unfortunately, the sugar beet growers of our area have never had a clear sight of how we fit into American Crystal Sugar Company’s future. For 20 years, the growers have had to negotiate a new contract with American Crystal Sugar Company every 3 years on average. During these negotiations, the sugar beet growers of this valley have been required to take substantial reductions in payments in order to keep American Crystal Sugar Company’s operation in our area profitable enough for them.

During these years, the willingness of our area’s growers to adopt new technologies has risen yields to deliver more than enough production to keep the factory profitable. This adaptation of technology by our growers, and the sacrifices required of them in contracts, is the only reason we have been sustainable through these years of new ownership.

American Crystal Sugar Company has referenced that 30,774 acres were grown in crop year 2021. That marked the end of a contract period and a new negotiation ensued. The reduction in acres to crop year 2022 was a direct result of that negotiation process. During this time the growers were told by an American Crystal Sugar Company’s executive that we would be required to take another large cut to our payments and we should expect continued cuts in our subsequent contracts.

The growers of this association recognize that American Crystal Sugar Company’s presence in our area has come and gone, but our sugar beet grower’s dedication to this region will continue for generations to come. We would like to thank our local Sidney Sugars employees for their years of dedication to Sidney, MT. Our Thank-Yous do not end there, the businesses and people of our community have been the bedrock that has held up and continue to hold up many of our operations. Our sugar beet growers will be required to transition into a new way of life and we ask for your continued support.

We were just informed by American Crystal Sugar Company of the closing this morning, and while this news is still fresh in our hearts, we understand the importance of a statement from our board. We hope to give you further comment in the future.


Montana-Dakota Beet Growers Association Board

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Bob Peacock

My dad was an Asst. Plant Manager during the Holly Sugar Reign. I’m sorry to see this plant close and the many people and families that this will effect.

No matter how thin the pancakes is there is always two sides to every story.


Of course I’m not involved but from the article I perceive that the growers have sacrificed to the company their profits to the point that the company was condemning them to serfdom I applaud the attempts of these farmers to stay relevant but comes a point where they just allowed big profit to executives ( nobles) to deplete them Diversify recognize your value and don’t succumb to fear !! Coops perhaps self rule for sure but submitting to these cooperate techniques beware!!

Dave Madden

The Sugar beet farmers should buy the factory from American Crystal Sugar and run it themselves.

Daniel Danielson

Can the Montana Beet growers Assoc and surrounding communities get together and resume ownership and make this profitable to our communities and growers? It seems like feasible option to me as it is not profitable for ACSC to sit on the property and have to pay taxes and allow plant to deteriorate. Do you think they would be open to a CO-OP taking over on a lease option to buy? It’s no skin off their back.

David Mortensen

Holly sugar did a great job, the sugar industry has been going down hill since Holly started closing or selling there facilities across the US.
Im thinking it’s time to look at the sugar competition, it may be like the sugarcane industry. It just got done cheeper from other countries.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x