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Galen Lee becomes new American Sugarbeet Growers Association President

Treasure Valley Producer is new ASGA President

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While already known by many in the audience, the new president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, Galen Lee of New Plymouth, Idaho, formally introduced himself to the group as he took over the reins from Wyoming’s John Snyder at the conclusion of the 2016 annual meeting. After paying tribute to Snyder for his service and accomplishments (see article on page 11), Lee turned to his own story. First, though, he extended his appreciation to four groups of people: the ASGA Board of Directors for their confidence in electing him president; the Nyssa/Nampa Sugarbeet Growers Association of southwestern Idaho/eastern Oregon, of which he has been president since December 2008; the Amalgamated Sugar Company, of which he is a shareholder and director, for its support; "and most of all, my family and my employees, who have — and will continue — to carry the load at home while I attend to the business of this industry." ​

 Lee is the first grower from either Idaho or Oregon to serve as ASGA president.  He grew up on the family farm near New Plymouth, about 50 miles northwest of Boise along the Idaho-Oregon border.  After earning his bachelor’s degree in ag engineering from the University of Idaho in 1988, Galen worked for FarmHouse International Fraternity as its director of expansion.   ​In 1991 he returned to the family farm, becoming the fourth generation of the Lee family to work its ground.  He married in 1997, gaining three stepchildren in the process.  Later, daughter Taylor was welcome by the Lees.  Tragically, however, his wife Becky passed away from cancer in early 2003. "There is nothing that will test a person more than the loss of a spouse or child," Galen noted. "You learn a great deal about yourself and others during those darkest hours.  You can choose to be angry, resentful and wal-low in self-pity; or you can cling to your faith and choose to pick up the pieces, take one day at a time and put love and hope in your heart, knowing that your life will be good again." Along with his children, Lee’s life has been blessed for the past 12 years by his wife, Cindy.  Between the two of them, they have eight children.  Cindy is a registered nurse and co-owner (with her two oldest sons) of Heart ‘n Home Hospice and Palliative Care, which operates eight offices in south-western Idaho and eastern Oregon and employs 180 people. The Lee family farm, Sunnyside Farm, LLC, is a diversified row-crop, dairy and beef operation.  "In addition to 235 shares of sugarbeets, our 1,200-acre irrigated farm raises asparagus and peppermint as cash crops," Lee ex-plained, "and alfalfa, corn silage, grain, peas and earlage for the 300-head dairy and 65-head cow/calf operation.  We raise all the heifers and steers from both enterprises.  We also have a farm shop where we do all our own service and repair work, as well as some work for our neighbors." Galen has been a member of the Nyssa-Nampa board for 17 years and, as noted above, currently serves as its president.  He also is a board member of the Snake River Sugar Company (owner of Amalgamated) and has been on the ASGA Board of Directors for the past eight years.    Outside of sugarbeets, Lee serves on the board of the Idaho Mint Growers Association, the Payette Valley Dairy Herd Improvement Association and is president of the Payette County Farm Bureau.  He was Idaho state chairman of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program and also is a graduate and former board member of Leadership Idaho Agriculture. "Obviously, I believe in being involved and helping to make a difference in agriculture," Galen affirmed.  "My parents always taught me the importance of involvement, just as my wife and I are teaching the same to our children.  When I told my family I had been nominated for vice president of ASGA, my father said, ‘When asked to serve, serve.  When asked to lead, lead.’  It’s kind of a family mantra." Being elected president of ASGA "is both a huge honor and a huge responsibility," Lee told his audience.  "I would like to thank you again for this opportunity to represent every beet grower in the country, and we look forward to a very active and productive year."​

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