Snyder appointed president of ASGA
“It is an honor and a privilege to lead such a dedicated and talented group of farmers,” said John Snyder of Worland in his acceptance speech after becoming the newly elected president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association (ASGA) for 2014.
“I am excited about the future of our industry,” added Snyder. “There are challenges in the U.S. market and on Capitol Hill, but this industry has worked hard on both fronts and will continue to do so.”
Representatives of ASGA unanimously elected Snyder as their president on Feb. 8 in Tampa, Fla. at their association’s annual meeting.
For the last two years, Snyder was the Vice president of the association and has served on the Board of Managers for Wyoming Sugar Growers.
Snyder has also been the president of the Washakie Beet Growers Association for the past 11 years.
“These are leaders from all over the country and to be chosen as their leader is humbling,” replied Snyder.
“When my time is over for this, the beet grower’s organizations around the country are going to be in better shape than what they are today,” commented Snyder, “or at least I’ll work very hard to try and get them there.”
ASGA represents approximately 10,000 growers in 11 states, and the industry as a whole creates 372,000 direct and indirect jobs in 42 states and contributes $21.1 billion in positive economic activity each year.
“As we look ahead to the implementation of the new Farm Bill, we need to work with members of Congress to assure that a strong domestic policy is retained and will serve farmers, consumers and our customers for the next five years,” explained Snyder.
“We worked on the Farm Bill for the last five years, and we want to make sure it gets implemented correctly, in the way that it was written and the way it was meant to be,” stated Snyder. “This is important not only for our growers but for our factories, as well.”
All of the sugar factories in the U.S. are 100 percent owned by their growers.
“Wyoming has three of the remaining 22 beet factories left in the U.S.,” said Snyder. “These factories are extremely important to our communities. The sugarbeet factories in Wyoming are in Torrington, Lovell and Worland.”
Snyder noted that the sugar policy established in the 2008 Farm Bill continues in the 2014 Farm Bill, and it has served growers, consumers and taxpayers well.
“There are a lot of international trade issues that affect sugar,” explained Snyder. “We have 41 trading partners under the World Trade Organization (WTO).”
One of the biggest trade concerns with sugar is Mexico’s extreme importation of the commodity to the U.S., flooding U.S. markets. The oversupply drives the price of U.S. sugar down.
“Mexico has unrestricted access to import to the U.S., and their sugarbeet acres have grown substantially in the last four to five years,” stated Snyder. “We are looking at different plans on how we might take care of this.”
“Producers in the U.S. can only sell so much of their sugar into the market,” said Snyder.
Another trade agreement that has the attention of ASGA is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
“The TPP is a big deal for us right now. We must ensure that we don’t get too much sugar into the country,” replied Snyder. “We are importing a lot of sugar already.”
The U.S. is the biggest importer of sugar in the world, and Snyder is cautionary about sugar’s sensitivity to price worldwide.
“When the sugar market is out of balance, it affects the prices very quickly and can last a very long time,” cautioned Snyder.
“Our prices today are basically what they were in the 1980s,” explained Snyder. “Obviously, our input costs aren’t what they were in the 1980s.
Snyder also notes the industry deals with meeting consumer demand, biotech issues and addressing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
“The sugar that comes from those beets is no different than the sugar we produced before,” stated Snyder. “It’s been tested, and it is absolutely no different than cane sugar or sugar from anywhere else around the world that has been processed into white sugar.”
Snyder is a fourth-generation farmer. Snyder has farmed with his wife Janet for 33 years, and they currently farm with Snyder’s father-in-law, brother-in-law, son Steve and his wife Jamie.
They raise malt barley, corn and sugarbeets.
Madeline Robinson is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.