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Crystal Sugar CEO sees growers sticking with beets despite price drop

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The leader of American Crystal Sugar thinks farmers in the Red River Valley will stick with sugar beets, even though this year's crop is getting them barely half what they were paid last year.

At the annual meeting of the Moorhead-based co-op, CEO David Berg told the Fargo Forum there was no talk among growers of throwing in the towel on sugar by switching to another crop.

Last year a ton of sugar beets was worth $68. This fall farmers are getting $38.

A month ago American Crystal alerted its member/owners to price drop, which Berg says is the result of cheaper sugar from Mexico flooding the U.S. market.

WDAY reports 800 growers attended Thursday's meeting and some later said they were warned that prices could fall even lower.

The Associated Press says Berg told reporters sugar imports from Mexico stood at 700,000 tons five years ago. He says they're now at 2 million tons. Berg says ever since the North American Free Trade Agreement was ratified in the 1990's, many in the industry feared imported sugar would lead to the kind of price drop the U.S. is now seeing, the AP reports.

Apart from the price, American Crystal is happy with this year's beet harvest. Many fields weren't planted until June because of a snowy, soggy spring but their report on the harvest says it produced the fifth-best yield in the co-op's 40-year history.

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