Sugar beets should be getting ready to go into the ground next month in March in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming, but growers could face some challenges with funding.
In October 2019 the sugar beet crop suffered damaging freezes at the beginning of harvest, which is still affecting growers as Western Sugar Factory is still running the beets and no one yet knows where growers will stand with payments.
To assist the growers U.S. Senator Deb Fischer and seven colleagues including Senator Ben Sasse have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to take immediate action in implementing the FY20 Appropriations bill which includes the Wildfire, Hurricane, and Indemnity Program Plus program, WHIP+.
“The past two years have been devastating for Cooperative farmers working in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming due to significant weather events,” Fischer said. “It’s really essential that these farmers are able to obtain their operating loans.”
Fischer and her colleagues are not alone in trying to assist the growers.
Kendall Busch president of the Nebraska Sugarbeet Growers Association said there are several organizations working on the issue, but it will take time.
“Hopefully, in the next week or two, we’ll have an update, but it’s a tough process to get through just to make sure things are working right,” he said. “FSA, RMA, our processors, CEOs, CFOs, have all been working very hard on this, and hopefully we’ll have an answer in a couple of weeks.”
The frozen beets are hard to process since they came into the piles frozen and the purities haven’t been the best, making them harder to refine.
“This affects our growers it affects communities, western Nebraska is hit by this and we want to make sure our growers can take advantage of these programs,” Fischer said. “It (WHIP+) helps them, their families, but we all know how important that is to the communities in western Nebraska.”
The bipartisan letter was led by U.S. Senators Cory Gardner, and Michael Bennet of Colorado, and also signed by Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso of Wyoming, and Steve Daines, and Jon Tester of Montana.