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U.S. Agriculture Department awards $50 million grant to sugarbeet industry

The Climate-Smart Commodities pilot program grant will work to establish sugar as a climate smart commodity by implementing climate-smart production practices, enhancing and improving business practices for climate-smart commodities and using collected data and information to inform future standards.

A green tractor pulls a red sugarbeet lifter through a sugarbeet field.
The U.S. Agriculture Department awarded American Sugar Beet Growers Association and U.S. Sugarbeet Growers Association $50 million for the Climate-Smart Commodities pilot program. Photo taken Oct. 14, 2022, near Crookton, Minnesota.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
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The U.S. Agriculture Department has awarded the American Sugarbeet Growers Association and U.S. Beet Sugar Association $50 million for the Climate-Smart Commodities pilot program.

The funding from the multi-partner partnership award will be used to establish sugar as a climate smart commodity by implementing climate-smart production practices, enhancing and improving business practices for climate-smart commodities and using collected data and information to inform future standards.

“Every day, our cooperative-owned members utilize cutting edge technology to ensure our products are reliable and sustainable,” Cassie Bladow, U.S. Beet Sugar Association president, said in a news release. ”We look forward to expanding these methods with our project partners and the USDA.”

The initiative, which will include the entire U.S. sugarbeet industry, will help sugarbeet growers better respond to the marketplaces, which increasingly demand sustainably produced food, she said.

"The beet sugar industry, which is tied annually to more than 1 million acres, is committed to implementing climate-smart production practices around nutrient stewardship," said Carrie Meadows, vice president of government affairs for the U.S. Beet Sugar Association.

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The proposal provides a unique opportunity to scale and develop beet sugar as a climate-smart commodity, Meadows said.

Sugarbeet cooperatives and farmers together will use resources from the grant to establish nutrient stewardship projects to help growers implement, track and verify the value of climate- smart growing practices. Through that, the beet sugar industry will collectively be able to put in place various projects across the entirety of the beet sugar growing areas, encompassing different soil types, topographies and water usage, she said.

The American Sugar Beet Growers Association appreciates the opportunity to work with USDA on the project, said Luther Markwart, the association’s executive vice president.

“Our family farmers look forward to demonstrating the climate-smart members of their crops, along with our project partners,” Markwart said.

The project funding will be used to provide incentives for farmers throughout sugar growing regions to lead projects in nutrient stewardship. Farmer-owned cooperatives will provide technical assistance, support and data collection. The project intends to give farmers the tools they need to adapt to the evolving marketplace and meet consumer demands for foods produced substainably.

Besides the U.S. Beet Sugar Association and American Sugarbeet Association, project partners include the Edge Dairy Farmers Co-op, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College and the Minnesota Farm Bureau.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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