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Published October 11, 2009, 12:00 AM

Sugar industry wants harvest to be as safe as possible for all

On behalf of the sugar industry here in the Red River Valley, we want to remind everyone of the need to follow safe driving habits during this harvest season, especially in light of the tragic accident that occurred in Wahpeton recently.

By: Kelly Erickson, David Berg and Dave Roche, INFORUM

On behalf of the sugar industry here in the Red River Valley, we want to remind everyone of the need to follow safe driving habits during this harvest season, especially in light of the tragic accident that occurred in Wahpeton recently.

One unfortunate result of this accident was the printing of incorrect information concerning the agricultural industry.

The article on the front page of the Oct. 2 Forum stated that rules pertaining to who can operate a sugar beet truck during harvest are “thrown out the window,” indicating that sugar beet growers are given special consideration. The fact is, all agricultural producers, whether they are corn, soybean, wheat, potato or sugar beet growers, are not required to have a CDL (commercial driver’s license) if they stay within 150 miles of their home operations. This law has been on the books for many years and is in effect year-round.

We in the sugar industry have supplied trucking information to our members in an effort to keep everyone on the roads as safe as possible. We have published a truck booklet for every grower that includes the rules and specifications that have to be followed in both Minnesota and North Dakota.

Every year, we bring together the highway departments, highway patrols and county engineers, along with our growers, to discuss highway projects and safety concerns for the coming harvest season.

We invite members of the highway patrol and MnDOT to our factory district meetings to review regulations with the growers, so everyone knows what has to be done to license these vehicles. All of these efforts are an attempt to keep the public safe while trucks are on the road.

We all wish this accident had never happened. For our part, we will continue to educate our growers to the rules and regulations they are required to meet, so they can put the safest vehicle and drivers on the road that they can.


Erickson is president, Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association; Berg is president/CEO, American Crystal Sugar Co.; Roche is president/CEO, Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative.

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