Beet farmers lobby to keep U.S. protections

  • Article by: JIM SPENCER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 12, 2012 - 10:25 AM

Growers emphasize the program has no cost to taxpayers, but critics say limits on foreign sugar hurt consumers.

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chuckdancerMar. 10, 1210:46 PM

Well if we take the cheapest sugar like we take the cheapest underwear the cost to the country obviously will not be one billion dollars. We should choose the jobs and the option to clamp down on greedy business if need be. I am assuming that they understand their worker will have to be treated fairly.

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unionsrockMar. 11, 12 6:59 AM

These greedy farmers want us to pay higher sugar prices in exchange for what? If they want to keep the program and continue to rack up record profits, then they need to pay their workers better salaries and/or benefits.

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twinkytimeMar. 11, 12 8:43 AM

I know several beet farmers and they are the richest farmers in north Dakota and mn. They are all multi millionaires. I give the beet farmers great props for being able to lobby for no more competition...they have no foreign competition and good luck starting a beet farm around here. The problem with it is on the consumer end and the worker end. All consumers end up paying more for sugar due to high demand and 0 increase in competition. In addition the workers are kicking and scraping to get small wage increase and essentially lost as the industry brought in replacement workers. If they are increasing profits and not sharing with workers, it sounds like our government intervention and tax dollars are better utilized in other industries.

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northcoasterMar. 11, 12 9:05 AM

The sugar program has been a historic success. Prices are stable, farmers make a decent living and the communities where the plants are located have thrived, until now. American Crystal Sugar's ideological war on it's workers in Fargo has started the unravelling of the farmer-labor coalition that has defended the program for decades. Farmers won't be able to hold this on their own. Bummer.

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brandy26Mar. 11, 1210:08 AM

greed,, that's what this is all about,, lock out the workers get rid of the union, pay lower wages to new temp local workers and keep the sugar bill, now the richer get richer and 1300 people will get poorer, and they will keep 1300 new temp workers at a poor rate of pay. greed.

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ranger78Mar. 11, 1211:49 AM

Farmers are the biggest welfare case in the country. We need to quit cowtowing to this lobby. Let the market rule. And while we are at it, lets end all subsidies, mandates and tax breaks for all businesses. We need to quit playing consumers and taxpayers against businesses.

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hblanekMar. 11, 12 1:07 PM

I am generally unsympathetic to the arguments unions put forth when they demand higher wages and cloaking the demand as fair. However, in the case of the sugar industry I come very close to being 100% a Union Guy. My philosophy regarding pay is the corporation should pay what it costs to hire the last person required to get the job completed. That person is the margin and regardless of whether some will work for $5/hour and some will only work for $25/hour, if the number of employees required to get the job done requires paying the last one $15 then the laborers hired get $15/hour. This concept is called the margin. It has nothing to due with fairness or anything else, just the fact that a certain amount of money is required to get the last person required to get the job done to not do something else. Sadly for the Union guys this pay rate is probably less than what they would like and for certain what they feel is fair. Now, as a consumer of sugar, I should not be required to pay a premium simply because the sugar beet industry has managed to create obstructions to cheaper supplies of sugar from making it to the shelves of my super market. But that is what the industry has done. They've have banded together, paid off the legislators and require all of us pay more for soft drinks, ice cream, and everything else that contains sugar while they make above average returns on their investment than they would were they to have to compete on a level playing field. As such, if they want to be greedy on one front (higher profits thanks to legislated constraints on some suppliers), I think they should be required to more than adequately compensate their workers. Not only fair pay, I suggest legislated above and beyond fair pay!!!

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chucks2Mar. 11, 12 1:09 PM

Minn. needs to move on to a right-to-work state so these farmers need to put up with what the unions from out east are giving them. I understand they are talking about moving the ACS headquarters to ND.

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davehougMar. 11, 12 6:28 PM

One downside not mentioned to dropping import controls is the same thing we complain about with foreign oil. Once domestic sugar production is replace by imports, we are beholding to another foreign power. The balance of trade means we trade paper dollars for sugar instead of producing sugar. Who thinks it is good to off-shore clothing, manufacturing, electronics, cameras, motorcycles and now FOOD????

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