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Frozen Crops Makes U.S. Sugar Beet Bitter in Red River Valley

The weather during harvest season in the U.S. Red River Valley, a breeding sugar beet region in Minnesota and North Dakota, has to farmers felt like a spate of plagues.

Rain and snow hit crops in September and October. A blast followed that, and then warm temperatures that left fields a boggy mess. Next came a deep freeze, ruining the underground sugar beet crop, and dealing a harsh blow to farm revenues.

Extreme weather has hindered the planting and harvesting of corn, soybeans, and different crops throughout 2019 throughout the U.S. and Canadian farm belts.

However, in North Dakota and Minnesota, which accounted for 56% of the U.S. sugar beet acres this year, the freeze is a whammy.

Sugar beet farmers’ deals with processors, which operate as farmer-owned organizations, require those who depart leave acres to pay a fee to the cooperative so it may pay its bills in leaner years.

Younggren’s five-gen farm should pay American Crystal Sugar a set cost of $343 for every unharvested acre, totaling approximately $171,500 to be docked from payments for beets he did harvest.

On Monday, the U.S. government approved the import of more 100,000 short tons of Mexican cultivated sugar because of the harvest concerns. The US is the world’s third-largest sugar importer after Indonesia and China, buying 2.8 million tonnes in 2018-19, following the U.S. Division of Agriculture.

Producers Western Sugar Cooperative and United Sugars Corp issued force majeure notices this month. Other processors further face a tough winter.

At American Crystal Sugar’s manufacturing unit in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, farmer David Thompson toured the yard in his pickup, surveying snow-covered mounds of sugar beets.

American Crystal, the most prominent U.S. sugar beet processor, did not reply to requests for a remark.

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