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Published December 01, 2011, 05:53 PM

American Crystal growers bring in over 10 million tons of beets

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A tale of two players in one of this region’s most profitable, headline grabbing crops.

By: WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

A tale of two players in one of this region’s most profitable, headline grabbing crops. At its annual meeting, Crystal Sugar growers heard how the 2010 crop brought in 10 million tons of beets, and $1.5 billion dollars to the co-op. It comes at a time when the sugar market is still marking a 3 year rally. With 2,800 farmers raising 40% of the nation's sugar, the good news comes as the co-op is wrestling with unknowns in Congress, the markets and the local labor unrest.

Dave Berg – American Crystal CEO: “A labor contract dispute has negative economic and emotional impact there is no doubt about that, we are not open because it is internal business but replacing workers with replacement has negative economic impact.”

Union members did not protest the annual meeting, but criticized Crystal executives for not presenting a better offer. Meeting at the Holiday Inn, just yards from Crystal's annual Meeting, the union questioned the union's motivation in locking them out the last 4 months. One union member questioned why Crystal is starving its neighbors at a time of historic profits.

Kari Sorenson – Union Member: “They say they have offered a generous pay and benefit package but the fact we have voted no twice sends a clear package that it is not about the money."

Crystal Sugar says it spends between $90-$100 million a year on salaries for factory workers throughout the valley.

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