By Cal Braid
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Southern Alberta’s sugar beet farmers have cleared their fields and are calling it a day, or more accurately, a season.
The numbers are in. The Alberta Sugar Beet Growers (ASBG) released an annual harvest report on Dec. 5, and the results are good. The report showed that 856,636 tonnes of beets were harvested at an average extractable sugar rate of 17.45 per cent. Lantic will process the beets, converting them into refined Canadian sugar.
Jennifer Crowson, executive director with the ASBG, said, “As my first harvest with the grower body, it was amazing to see the high quality of crop that was grown by these farm families. I knew that we grew great sugar in the area, but this year I got a firsthand look at how awesome this industry is and how hard our farmers work to produce the sole source of 100 per cent Canadian sugar.”
The ASBG represents the 200 farm families that are the last farmers that grow sugar beets that are turned into domestic sugar.
The report said, “Two-hundred farm families began digging the crop in September and wrapped up on Nov. 9, with beets being delivered to the only sugar beet processing facility in Canada. Taber is home to this plant that is owned by Lantic Inc. and marketed under the Roger’s Sugar brand.”
The ASBG is a marketing board headquartered in Taber that supports and serves the farmers it represents. The board administers quotas for crop growth, negotiates pricing contracts with the processor (Lantic), advocates before governments and stakeholders, educates, and does research to develop and expand the industry.
“A harvest celebration was held on Dec. 1, and recognized the top growers of the season,” the report said, referencing the ASGB dinner and presentation held at the Heritage Inn. “These farmers delivered an exceptional crop and consumers can support these farmers by choosing sugar that is refined at the Taber plant and is 100 per cent Canadian. The easiest way to do this is to look for a black stamp on the bag that starts with #22.”
Gary Tokariuk, ASBG president and a sugar beet farmer, said, “Ensuring that people understand that Canada has a domestic supply of this sweet staple product is really important to our organization. So many people don’t understand that we grow sugar right here in Canada by producing sugar beets. Typically, we hear about the raw cane from foreign countries that is being imported, but our farm families do a great job, and we want to celebrate that.”
Congratulations to all the farm families on a great harvest and special congratulations to the 2023 Top 10 Growers: 1- Lane & Thomas Lievaart 2- Stiekema Kolhorn Farms 3- Kreft Farms 4- Vucurevich Farms 5- Jim & Jane Bettcher 6- Klemen D Farms 7- Corban Enterprises 8- P & F Farms 9- Lucerne Seed Services 10- Geerligs Farms.