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Published March 09, 2012, 12:00 AM

Hallock man leads U.S. sugar group

HALLOCK, Minn. – Kelly Erickson has reached the top of the sugar beet pile. A fourth-generation farmer in the northern Red River Valley, Erickson was unanimously elected president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association during the group’s recent annual meeting.

HALLOCK, Minn. – Kelly Erickson has reached the top of the sugar beet pile.

A fourth-generation farmer in the northern Red River Valley, Erickson was unanimously elected president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association during the group’s recent annual meeting.

The achievement culminates decades of Erickson’s involvement in local, regional and national organizations representing thousands of sugar beet growers like himself.

“Agriculture is one of the success stories in this country, and we need to keep it that way,” he said.

He and his wife, Karen, have farmed together for 34 years on the Erickson family farm near Hallock.

The couple and their son, Scott, raise 800 acres of sugar beets, as well as wheat and soybeans.

With farming in his blood, Erickson said the career path was a natural choice for him.

“I don’t know when I first decided I wanted to be a farmer,” he said. “I spent the better part of my younger years working the fields with my father and my grandfather, and it just grows on you.”

Erickson said he’s proud to continue his family’s tradition of rural living.

As representation in Congress becomes more urbanized, it’s more important now to lobby for farmers’ rights, Erickson said.

Erickson had served as the national association’s vice president and its legislative committee chairman for the past two years.

He also served as president of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association for four years before ending his tenure there in December.

The national association represents 10,000 growers in 11 states.

Erickson’s ascension to the top leadership spot comes as congressional lawmakers draft the next farm bill.

“There are a lot of big issues before us,” Erickson said, adding that he feels the debate over the farm bill revolves largely around money.

A top priority for Erickson is maintaining the sugar program, which comes at no cost to American taxpayers.

The 2008 farm bill ensured the country’s sugar program operates at no cost to taxpayers. It benefits farmers in the U.S. by limiting foreign imports of sugar and controlling prices and supply.

“There are challenges on the horizon that I have no doubt we will be able to rise above,” Erickson said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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