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