Beet Growers Continue to Deliver for Consumers

Published online: Jan 18, 2022 News Russell Nemetz
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Source: Ag Information Network

The American Sugarbeet Growers Association (ASGA) says the 2021 crop was great and harvest went a lot smoother when compared to recent weather related challenges.

ASGA vice president and general counsel Scott Herndon says it felt good to be back to normal.

"Last year's crop was great," said Herndon. "It's good to be back to normal. In 2019 we had a disaster across our growing region, so it's just nice to have things as normal. So, we're very happy about that."

He says biotechnology has revolutionized how farmers grow sugar for consumers.

"Absolutely," said Herndon. "The sugar beet industry has been leaders in biotech adoption, and we are very proud of that and we've been able to gain a lot of sustainability benefits from the use of biotechnology. And we have some exciting news that Bayer KWS is working in conjunction in a partnership to develop a multiple herbicide tolerant trait that will have glyphosate, glufonsinate and dicamba tolerances that they hope to be ready by mid-decade. The FDA will be helpful in deregulating that. It has to go through the coordinated framework, which is USDA, FDA and EPA. But we're excited about that, and we're also excited about the future of biotech in the concept of gene editing because we think that has a lot of potential benefits as well. Through that, breeders could breed plants that have disease resistance way quicker than they could with a GMO trait. So, a lot of exciting potential on the horizon."

Sustainability is also very important to America's sugar industry and it's growers.

"I'm very proud that our industry has also been on the forefront of sustainability measures in D.C. from a policy perspective," said Herndon. "We have helped lead discussions for voluntary incentive based sustainability measures with with allies across agriculture. We've built really good alliances with our colleagues in the environmental community and other stakeholders, and we think we're going to have success on that."

Despite increases in input costs, he says America's sugar beet growers continue to deliver to consumers an abundant and affordable supply of sugar.

"Our industry is not unique in the fact that we're facing input costs increases because of supply chain issues," said Herndon. "But rest assured that the consumers will not see a shortage of sugar and this is something that we've been able to highlight, you know, throughout the COVID pandemic. We were able to easily transition from wholesale to retail, you know, as the demand shifted and really was able to demonstrate the success of the sugar policy that our industry was nimble and we were able to supply very quickly to these pressures."