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American Crystal beet growers getting barely half last year's sugar price

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American Crystal Sugar has alerted its farmers that they'll be paid far less for their beets this year.

WDAZ reports the Moorhead-based co-op advised its members they'll be paid $38 for a ton of beets this year. That's not much more than half the $68 per ton they received last year.

The station reports that the smaller sugar content of this year's beet crop factors into the reduced price. But the primary reason is a saturated market that has depressed sugar prices nationwide.

Wyoming Public Media says sugar prices are at their lowest level in 30 years. According to their report, U.S. demand for sugar has been stagnant while imports from Mexico have doubled in recent years.

American Crystal CEO Dave Berg also cited Mexican imports through the North American Free Trade Agreement as the biggest factor in driving down sugar prices, MPR reports.

Last week the New York Times spoke with candy makers who are moving more of their production to Mexico and Canada to take advantage of cheaper sugar prices there.

In a move emblematic of the depressed market it faces, American Crystal announced it would forfeit sugar that was the collateral on $71.2 million loan from the U.S. government. The co-op determined that forfeiting the sugar was cheaper than repaying the loan with cash.

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