Monday, December 13, 2010

Fox News Examines the Beet Situation

Round-Up Ready Stand Still
By Bri Eggers, Fox 12 News
Nampa, ID - It's a waiting game that has local farmer's asking,'what's next'?
"What we're talking about is 1.8 million tons of sugar," said Jake Putnam of the Idaho Farm Bureau.

One million acres of sugar beets in our nation provides half of the sugar consumed in the U.S. This crop is a huge part of our economy. "There's just a lot of money in the state of Idaho generated by sugar production," said sugar beet farmer, Steve Woodard.

Still no word from U.S. District Judge Jeffery White on if round-up ready sugar beet seed will be out-lawed. This one decision could change everything for the farmers, and they need an answer now.

"This is the time of the year when they're buying beet seed and trying to figure out how many acres to plant, they can't do that right now," Putnam said.

After a week of growers' meetings in the state, agricultural leaders are urging farmers to take a deep breath and stay calm. "Take a little bit of time, don't panic, and let's just see what shakes out within the next three to four weeks," he said.

But farmers know the huge impact the decision could have; not just on their crops, but on everyone. "There'll be some financial hardships especially in our communities and individual farming operations if we can't produce sugar beets," Woodard said.

"You take all of that sugar out of the equation, all of the sudden, you see food prices take a spike," said Putnam. The Farm Bureau says although food prices won't increase right away, we could see a major spike in 2012, if round-up ready seed is taken away.

"A winter of apprehension for sugar beet growers, because we don't know exactly what to do," Woodard said. "What everyone in the sugar beet industry does know, is a decision needs to be made soon, so farmers can start planning.

"The closer that we get to that planting time, the more that it's going to damage, the prospects of the 2011 crop," Putnam said, "It's a hurry up and wait game.

Again, that decision by Judge White is expected in the next few weeks, but farmers say they need to know by New Year's Day so that planting can start at the beginning of March.

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