April 23rd, 2021

Future of sugar beets in southern Alberta is sweet

By Southern Alberta Newspapers on April 8, 2021.

The Alberta Sugar Beet Growers have successfully negotiated a two-year contract with sugar refiner Lantic Inc. for the growing years of 2021 and 2022. The negotiations have been occurring over the last two years with a goal of ensuring Canadians have a source of 100 per cent Canadian sugar through the production and refinement of sugar beets.
“Sugar beets are a staple crop here in southern Alberta that have been grown for generations by our farmers,” stated Gary Tokariuk, president of ASBG. “Farming is a predominately family business where you have to focus on being economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally responsible – while ensuring it exists for the next generation. We wanted to bring a contract back to the growers that will deliver on those priorities, so it can be grown for many more generations.”
Virtual meetings were held with growers to discuss the contract details – which included a new model of payment. Growers will now be paid for the beets they deliver at time of harvest and the sugar content percentage within those beets. This differs from the past, where growers were paid based on the tonnes of sugar extracted from the sugar beets. As a result, the price for growers will not be impacted by long-term pile storage or factory performance.
In addition, growers are assured a minimum of 24,000 acres will be contracted annually for the next two years, as well as investment into receiving stations for beet delivery.
Close to 200 farm families in southern Alberta rely on growing sugar beets, as part of their farm plan. The crop is grown all under irrigation and within 1.5 hours of Taber – where the processing plant is. Sugar beet refineries used to be spread across Canada and now southern Alberta is home to the last remaining one. A contract that ensures the future for an additional two years is great news for the farmers and for Canadians.
The Alberta Sugar Beet Growers take their responsibility to provide the sole source of 100 per cent Canadian sugar very seriously. Recently, the crop was given a silver level verification by the Farm Sustainability Assessment program. This program looks at all three pillars of sustainability, including environmental practices, social responsibility and economic returns.

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