MOORHEAD, MINN. – American Crystal Sugar Co. on Feb. 6 notified association members and employees that it will close operations at Sidney Sugars Inc. due to inadequate interest from area farmers in growing sugar beets.
“Last year there were only 18,400 acres contracted,” said Steve Rosenau, American Crystal Sugar Co. vice president of Agriculture and chief operating officer of Sidney Sugars. “The year before that, 30,774. With only 19,500 acres of sugar beets offered in the region for this coming spring, the Sidney operation is simply unprofitable. We have had a mutually beneficial partnership up to this point in time, and sugar beets have been a stable rotational crop for the region. Sidney farmers have consistently delivered some of the highest quality sugar beet crops and received some of the strongest beet payments in the industry during their span with American Crystal.”
Processing of the 2022 beet crop was completed in December, but cleanup will continue at the facility until April, with plant closing procedures beginning April 14. Warehouse operations will continue through the summer. Growers will receive all final payments in November, the company said.
American Crystal, headquartered in Moorhead, Minn., bought the Holly Sugar Corp. plant in Sidney, Mont., from Imperial Sugar Co. in 2002 and renamed it Sidney Sugars Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary that operates the Sidney facility. As many as 45,000 acres of sugar beets were contracted with local growers in the 1990s. But due to the ongoing insufficient supply of sugar beets it has become financially unsustainable to continue operating the nearly 100-year-old plant, American Crystal said. Sugar from the Sidney facility (and other American Crystal facilities) are marketed by United Sugars Corp. and other products, such as sugar beet pulp pellets, molasses and special commodities are marketed by Midwest Agri-Commodities.
“Employees will receive severance packages, and we have provided a number of resources to assist them with job searches, including offering opportunities to join other American Crystal factories in the Red River Valley,” Mr. Rosenau said. The facility typically had around 300 employees.
American Crystal is an agricultural cooperative owned by 2,650 shareholder-entities in the Red River Valley involved in growing and processing sugar beets. It is the largest beet sugar producer in the United States with sugar factories in East Grand Forks, Crookston and Moorhead, Minn., and in Drayton and Hillsboro, ND.