For the last 100 years, northeast Montana's sugar beet growers proudly say they have been recognized as some of the best in the nation.

Part of their success can be attributed to the close proximity of a factory. That has helped reduce shipping costs and contributed to a fresher product to be processed.

But that is all about to change.


The Northern Ag News Network reports that the American Crystal Sugar Company has made the decision to close the local Sidney Sugars Factory in Sidney, Montana. Northern Ag tells us that the growers believe they've made every attempt to help keep Sidney Sugars successful. But its acquisition by American Crystal Sugar Company has made for a turbulent 21-year relationship.

The Growers Association sites, as an example, having had to negotiate a new contract with American Crystal Sugar Company approximately every three years. As a result of negotiations, the sugar beet growers in the Sidney area say they have taken substantial reductions in payments in order to help keep Sidney Sugars profitable.


But, as harvested acres decline, American Crystal Sugar Company says the operation  just no longer is profitable. With a population of just over 6,000, Sidney, the county seat of Richland County (population just over 11,000) is sure to feel the impact of the loss of 300 jobs, the number of people Sidney Sugars typically employs. It's hard not to imagine a ripple effect won't be felt as well.

The parent company says they will offer severance packages and will assist in job searches for displaced workers. That will include opportunities to work in other American Crystal Sugar factories in the Red River Valley region of eastern North Dakota.

The factory is scheduled to close April 14 of this year.

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