Sugar Producer

May 2010 Sugar Producer

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Mauch children will no doubt be an asset to the sugar industry. Perhaps their input is to add accurate and knowledgeable information to those around them in their chosen careers. The experiences a child has growing up on a farm are sure to enhance character and integrity. Nonetheless, Mauch is undaunted and proud of his children. Rightly so. “Currently I am farming in a joint venture with my brother-in-law, Rick Bladow, and his son Chris. We started this joint venture in 1997. Prior to that I was farming alongside my brothers, and we each worked together. In 1997 we separated and organized our own businesses. My brothers all had sons to go into business with them, which is why I joined forces with Rick and Chris.” Mary sells crop and farm insurance for Nodak Mutual Insurance, where she enjoys that type of work. She is proud of her farming life as well as supporting Mauch with his new responsibilities as the ASGA president. FARM STATS Total acreage for the farm is 7,500 acres with 1,100 in Roundup Ready sugarbeets, 5,500 in corn and 1,000 in soybeans. For additional revenue, Mauch and his partners dry edible sunflowers for Sun Opta. They do this all year. Typically the production process will run millions of bushels of sunflowers. This spring the farm ground around Wahpeton as well as around Fargo was actively flooding. The land is so flat that the water builds up in the river and flows overland. However, in a typical spring, beet growers try to plant the beets and corn by April 15. Pre-harvest lift is Sept. 1 with the main harvest starting Oct. 1. Mauch hauls about 30 miles to the factory in Wahpeton. They hope to get around 20–25 ton per acre, and also hope to get 17 to 19 percent sugar. Last year the Minn-Dak growers had a disaster of a crop and left 16,000 acres in the fields because it was too wet to harvest. When asked about the biggest challenges, Mauch says it is “Excessive water. In 2008 we left 30,000 acres in the field, and this is going to be our 5th major flooding in the century all since about 1993.” The Mauch Family: Tori, Tina, Skye, Mary and Russ. LEADERSHIP Currently, Mauch is serving as treasurer of Minn-Dak and is also a board member of United Sugars Corp. in Minnesota. He has served on the Midwest Commodities Board and Minn-Dak East Company. When discussing the Roundup Ready beets and biotechnology, nearly all growers will describe their experience with a smile. Looking out over a beet field with no weed in sight shows a twinkle of pride and accomplishment on the field work- worn faces. I have heard stories of a worn-out grower taking a stroll through a green beet field, leaving their heavy worries behind and finding renewed energy. Hard to believe? Or well deserved. Mauch says, “The RR beet is a good thing for the crop. Of all the crops that I raise it is probably the crop that has benefited the most with this technology. It is because of the challenge of controlling weeds in sugarbeets. It is a winner!” Leadership in the sugar industry is top- notch. The admiration and trust growers place in those leading the pack is all the way. Right now Mauch says the Cap and Trade issue is being closely watched. “It is a major issue if it goes through because most of the sugar industry burns coal in the factories. It will cost each grower $2,200 for the tax and is expected to climb to $5,000 if it passes. We are not opposed to climate change legislation, but the way it has been drafted right now it will devastate our industry.” BRIGHT FUTURE Although there are days when looking at the future is daunting, Mauch tells us that in the sugar industry it is very strong. So many food products are sweetened. When the soda industry wanted to lower their costs, they went with a less expensive sweetener. However, a lot of consumers are now making requests for mid-calorie drinks. Maybe the artificial sweeteners are causing consumer concern. More and more grocery aisles are holding shoppers who take a closer look at the labels. They are researching on their own, trying to get the best nutrition for their families. And, they are buying drinks that use sugar. Many of the new formulations are utilizing sugar as their sweetener. A lot of the new teas and coffees are now being made with sugar. Growers are nearly celebrating. “Sugar demand is strong,” says Mauch. “Prices are very solid right now. It is a good time to be a beet grower.” As far as offering advice, Mauch says, “We farmers need to reach out to the folks who live in the city. We need to try to improve our relations, which can start by educating people. We need to help them see where their food comes from and how it is produced.” Maybe offer invitations to those who are interested in farming practices and allow them to see first-hand how it is done. And more importantly, communicate to them effectively the real story of agriculture. n 13

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