SIDNEY - The Sidney Sugars sugar beet factory will close in April, its owner announced Monday.
The American Crystal Sugar Co., which owns the nearly century-old plant, saidin a news release that area growers are no longer producing enough sugar beets to supply the plant, which employs 300 workers.
“Last year there were only 18,400 acres contracted. The year before that, 30,774. With only 19,500 acres of sugar beets offered in the region for this coming spring, the Sidney operation is simply unprofitable,” said Steve Rosenau, American Crystal Sugar Company vice president of agriculture and chief operating officer of Sidney Sugars, Inc., in a written statement.
"During these negotiations, the sugar beet growers of this valley have been required to take substantial reductions in order to keep American Crystal Sugar Company's operation in our area profitable enough for them," the Montana-Dakota Beet Growers Association said in a written statement.
In comparison, contracts with sugar-beet growers in the 1990s included around 45,000 acres, according to American Crystal Sugar.
Sugar-beet processing was completed in December, and cleanup work will continue at the plant through April. Plant-closure procedures will start April 14. The warehouse will continue to operate through the summer.
Rosenau said employees will receive severance packages and assistance in finding new jobs, including at their five other plants in the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota.
American Crystal Sugar bought the plant, then called the Holly Sugar Corporation factory, in 2002 from Imperial Sugar Co.
Rosenau said the plant has had a good partnership with growers for more than 20 years.
“Sidney farmers have consistently delivered some of the highest quality sugar beet crops and received some of the strongest beet payments in the industry during their span with American Crystal," he said in a statement.