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Minn-Dak growers likely to lose money on 2013 crop

Published 11:57am Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WAHPETON, N.D. — Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative growers will have a tough time making a profit on their 2013 sugar beet crop, President and CEO Kurt Wickstrom says.

Minn-Dak’s anticipated $40-per-ton payment for the 2013 crop is down sharply from the 2012 payment of about $75 a ton.

The drop is largely due to depressed domestic sugar prices caused by imports from Mexico, Wickstrom said Tuesday during the Wahpeton-based co-op’s annual meeting.

Minn-Dak producers will receive about $100 million less than they did for the 2012 crop, The Forum newspaper reported.

Although the grower payment amount is disappointing, cooperative officials said the crop itself was much better than initially anticipated, given a late planting season and challenging weather conditions during much of the growing season.

Late-season rain made the difference, Wickstrom said.

“The crop responded like we’ve never seen,” he said.

But the amount of beets produced per acre and the sugar content still were down from last year, Wickstrom said.

Minn-Dak has no plans to curb capital improvements it started in 2012, despite the low sugar prices.

They include $65 million in sugar refining equipment upgrades and a $5.5 million project that will enable the co-op to package sugar in larger amounts.

Moorhead, Minn.-based American Crystal Sugar Co., the other sugar beet co-op in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, announced last week that it expects to pay growers about $38 per ton for the most recent crop, with total grower payments down more than $300 million over the year.

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