Sugarbeet Report

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It’s been a mix of weather and politics this year, Harrison Weber, Executive Director of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, joins the SugarBeet Report to discuss this year’s crop and the current policies surrounding sugarbeet production.

Show Notes

Show notes here: 
Speaker 1 - Bruce Sundeen, Host and Electronic Media Specialist for NDSU Agriculture
Speaker 2 - Harrison Weber, Executive Director of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association

Bruce: 
This is the Sugarbeet Report, bringing you the latest information from NDSU throughout the sugarbeet growing season. Today we're talking with Harrison Weber, the Executive Director of the Red River Valley SugarBeet Growers Association.  He will be updating us on the sugarbeet crop and the sugar program in the United States. Harrison, what are some of the challenges sugarbeet growers have faced so far this year?

Harrison: 
Bruce, lots of challenges in the sugar beet industry. Lots of things going on in our world and first we can talk about some of the production challenges we’re facing.  Weather comes to mind almost immediately. We were excessively wet in 2019 and now we're on the far end of the spectrum on the other way.

Weed control, particularly waterhemp, you know what products we have available now what are we going to have available in the future? This year we were able to get a Section 18 emergency label for a product called Ultra Blazer to help with some of the water hemp hot spots up and down the valley. Fusarium, rhizoctonia and our big one, Kasra. We're doing a lot of grower-funded research through the research and education board on these areas to make sure we can raise a healthy and profitable crop.

You know going in the harvest we need a lot of help up and down the valley to get this crop in. What does the labor market look like? Lots of things are on growers’ minds. 

Bruce: 
Harrison, how is the battle going for grower’s trying to use Glyphosate or dicamba?

Harrison:

At the federal level, again, even more challenges. Obviously Glyphosate litigation. Unfortunately there's a lot of misinformation that's just flat-out false and not backed by data or science which has gotten spread very quickly. There's even an entire industry that has developed whose role is just to attack the tools that farmers have access to so we're challenged with pushing back and making sure we have various tools available. 

Dicamba has been another one in the news a lot. In sugarbeets we have a triple stack sugar beet that staged to come out the next couple years that's resistant to dicamba. What does that look like for growers in the future? Are we going to have access to that? 

Bruce: 
Is crop insurance in a good place? How can we improve the safety net if things don't go well for growers?

Harrison:
Through the American Sugarbeet Growers Association we've developed a strong relationship with RMA and they've been very open to ideas and willing to work with us for our growers.

Bruce: 
Let's talk about consumer demand. What are the future trends will we see? Any type of growth?

Harrison: 
Our country in the US here is the third largest sugar consuming country in the world. We are working with the Sugar Association to push back on these misconceptions that sugar has to ultimately tell people that real sugar is in naturally grown product that's produced by actual farmers and not in some lab and under a microscope. 

Bruce:
Now on to one of your favorite topics- the sugar program.  What needs to happen to maintain a strong sugar program?

Harrison: 
One of our biggest challenges is maintaining a strong US sugar program. It's a continuous drum beat here at home and in DC. Our opposition is absolutely ruthless in their attempts to undermine a program that has worked for consumers, customers and farmers. 

Right now, oday, opposition groups are going around Congress and trying to gain support for various amendments to attach to bills which would flood the US market with foreign subsidized sugars. 

Our growers have invested in technology on our farms, our factories in our distribution system, which has created the most efficient system in the world. We can out-compete any sugar grower in the world but we cannot compete with entire governments and their treasuries. That's why we need to maintain a strong US sugar program to put our growers right here in the Red River Valley on a level playing field.

Along with the strong US sugar program is maintaining the suspension agreements with Mexico. The agreements have proven effective and work for our growers and the Mexican Government. 

Everyone is happy except for the sweetener users who want to open up the floodgates. Heck, we even argue that if we gave the sugar away for free, your sugar-containing product wouldn't be any cheaper. 

Bruce: 
Are sugar prices a Republican or Democrat issue? 

Harrison: 
You know Bruce, as Agriculture, we need to work with both sides of the political aisle. The rural vote is getting smaller and smaller and we have got to come together to work with both Democrats and Republicans to make sure we keep our farms and rural communities healthy, vibrant and strong for years to come.

Bruce: 
Harrison, do you have any final thoughts?

Harrison:
Bruce, that's kind of some of our challenges we face as we sit here today. We are well-positioned to be on offense for all of these issues. We have a strong team in DC going to work every day for our growers and of course have some of the absolute best grower leaders in the world right here who are willing to pick up the phone or jump on a plane and help explain why these issues are so important to our farms and families to various members of Congress.

Sure, we have challenges in our industry but I'd kind of like to think of them as opportunities for the future. 

Bruce: 
Thanks Harrison. Our guest today has been Harrison Weber, Executive Director of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association. This has been the Sugarbeet Report, bringing you the latest information from NDSU throughout the sugarbeet growing season. 


What is Sugarbeet Report?

“Sugarbeet Report” presented by NDSU Extension, features growing tips from NDSU sugar beet specialists and researchers.

Speaker 1 - Bruce Sundeen, Host and Electronic Media Specialist for NDSU Agriculture
Speaker 2 - Harrison Weber, Executive Director of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association

Bruce:
This is the Sugarbeet Report, bringing you the latest information from NDSU throughout the sugarbeet growing season. Today we're talking with Harrison Weber, the Executive Director of the Red River Valley SugarBeet Growers Association. He will be updating us on the sugarbeet crop and the sugar program in the United States. Harrison, what are some of the challenges sugarbeet growers have faced so far this year?

Harrison:
Bruce, lots of challenges in the sugar beet industry. Lots of things going on in our world and first we can talk about some of the production challenges we’re facing. Weather comes to mind almost immediately. We were excessively wet in 2019 and now we're on the far end of the spectrum on the other way.

Weed control, particularly waterhemp, you know what products we have available now what are we going to have available in the future? This year we were able to get a Section 18 emergency label for a product called Ultra Blazer to help with some of the water hemp hot spots up and down the valley. Fusarium, rhizoctonia and our big one, Kasra. We're doing a lot of grower-funded research through the research and education board on these areas to make sure we can raise a healthy and profitable crop.

You know going in the harvest we need a lot of help up and down the valley to get this crop in. What does the labor market look like? Lots of things are on growers’ minds.

Bruce:
Harrison, how is the battle going for grower’s trying to use Glyphosate or dicamba?

Harrison:

At the federal level, again, even more challenges. Obviously Glyphosate litigation. Unfortunately there's a lot of misinformation that's just flat-out false and not backed by data or science which has gotten spread very quickly. There's even an entire industry that has developed whose role is just to attack the tools that farmers have access to so we're challenged with pushing back and making sure we have various tools available.

Dicamba has been another one in the news a lot. In sugarbeets we have a triple stack sugar beet that staged to come out the next couple years that's resistant to dicamba. What does that look like for growers in the future? Are we going to have access to that?

Bruce:
Is crop insurance in a good place? How can we improve the safety net if things don't go well for growers?

Harrison:
Through the American Sugarbeet Growers Association we've developed a strong relationship with RMA and they've been very open to ideas and willing to work with us for our growers.

Bruce:
Let's talk about consumer demand. What are the future trends will we see? Any type of growth?

Harrison:
Our country in the US here is the third largest sugar consuming country in the world. We are working with the Sugar Association to push back on these misconceptions that sugar has to ultimately tell people that real sugar is in naturally grown product that's produced by actual farmers and not in some lab and under a microscope.

Bruce:
Now on to one of your favorite topics- the sugar program. What needs to happen to maintain a strong sugar program?

Harrison:
One of our biggest challenges is maintaining a strong US sugar program. It's a continuous drum beat here at home and in DC. Our opposition is absolutely ruthless in their attempts to undermine a program that has worked for consumers, customers and farmers.

Right now, oday, opposition groups are going around Congress and trying to gain support for various amendments to attach to bills which would flood the US market with foreign subsidized sugars.

Our growers have invested in technology on our farms, our factories in our distribution system, which has created the most efficient system in the world. We can out-compete any sugar grower in the world but we cannot compete with entire governments and their treasuries. That's why we need to maintain a strong US sugar program to put our growers right here in the Red River Valley on a level playing field.

Along with the strong US sugar program is maintaining the suspension agreements with Mexico. The agreements have proven effective and work for our growers and the Mexican Government.

Everyone is happy except for the sweetener users who want to open up the floodgates. Heck, we even argue that if we gave the sugar away for free, your sugar-containing product wouldn't be any cheaper.

Bruce:
Are sugar prices a Republican or Democrat issue?

Harrison:
You know Bruce, as Agriculture, we need to work with both sides of the political aisle. The rural vote is getting smaller and smaller and we have got to come together to work with both Democrats and Republicans to make sure we keep our farms and rural communities healthy, vibrant and strong for years to come.

Bruce:
Harrison, do you have any final thoughts?

Harrison:
Bruce, that's kind of some of our challenges we face as we sit here today. We are well-positioned to be on offense for all of these issues. We have a strong team in DC going to work every day for our growers and of course have some of the absolute best grower leaders in the world right here who are willing to pick up the phone or jump on a plane and help explain why these issues are so important to our farms and families to various members of Congress.

Sure, we have challenges in our industry but I'd kind of like to think of them as opportunities for the future.

Bruce:
Thanks Harrison. Our guest today has been Harrison Weber, Executive Director of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association. This has been the Sugarbeet Report, bringing you the latest information from NDSU throughout the sugarbeet growing season.