With nearly record attendance, the 2009 American Sugarbeet Growers Association annual meeting revealed positive news. It is a good time to be a sugar producer despite the daunting political atmosphere.
This year the annual meeting was held in sunny San Diego where the setting rekindled friendships, sparked new acquaintances and great ideas were shared.
Discussing the biotech issues, Dr. Doug Rushing, Monsanto’s director of industry affairs, communicated to the audience that the biggest challenge for Monsanto is the freedom to operate. It isn’t competition or commodity prices that one would typically see but it is the freedom to operate.
This is the 14th year of planting biotech crops and today Monsanto is 100 percent focused on agriculture. “We are pretty tied into what you guys are doing,” continued Rushing, “So if you are successful, we are successful…our goal is to help you do your business more profitably.”
Rushing has been with Monsanto for more than 24 years and has been involved with the biotech process from the beginning. “Looking at the Roundup Ready sugarbeets over this past year 60 percent U.S. acres planted in Roundup Ready…. We expect to see expanded acres planted this year between 80–90 percent.”
Wrapping things up, Luther Markwart says currently the top priorities for the industry include taking care of Biotech, trade agreements, educating the newbies on Capitol Hill and crop insurance. “This industry has to take a look at the changing environment.” That includes educating the new people in the new administration by going to visit with them. “Let us answer the question about our industry, because if you aren’t at the table you are on the menu.”