Baucus Redoubles Call to Pass a Strong Farm Bill During Work Day at Billings Sugar Beet Refinery

Press Release

By:  Max Baucus
Date: Nov. 1, 2012
Location: Billings, MT

Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus spent the day loading sugar beets from the field into the wet hopper today alongside the crew at the Western Sugar Cooperative Refinery & Warehouse in Billings. Following a roundtable lunch discussion with sugar beet farmers from across the region, Baucus spent the afternoon packaging sugar in the warehouse.

"Spending a day working alongside the crew here is a stark reminder that we need to put Montana jobs first. Agriculture supports one in five Montana jobs just like the jobs at Western Sugar Cooperative," said Baucus. "I'm more resolved than ever to push for final passage of the Farm Bill to support Montana jobs for the long haul."

As a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Baucus has gone to bat for Montana sugar growers with the Department of Agriculture and successfully defeated efforts to gut a program that protects Montana sugar beet farmers from volatile markets in the Senate Farm Bill. Baucus is now continuing to push for final passage of the Farm Bill so all Montana farmers and ranchers have the certainty they need to continue doing business.

Baucus' Work for Sugar Beet Jobs

When the Farm Bill was being debated on the Senate floor in June, Baucus led efforts to defeat an amendment that would have phased out the current sugar program. The sugar program is designed to protect farmers from volatile markets by guaranteeing a minimum price for sugarcane and sugar beet farmers, and the sugar mills and beet refiners that process these crops into sugar. U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains the price of sugar using tools that target supply, at zero cost to taxpayers.
June 13, 2012 - Baucus Blocks Attempt to Undermine Montana Sugar Beet Farmers, Jobs

In July, Baucus announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture answered his call to give Roundup Ready sugar beets the green light for unrestricted cultivation and harvest. The decision means certainty for almost 100 percent of the nearly 31,000 sugar beet acres grown in Montana.
July 19, 2012 - Baucus Hails Victory for Montana Jobs, Sugar Beet Farmers

Western Sugar Cooperative

Western Sugar Cooperative is owned by more than 1,000 sugar beet growers in Montana, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. The refinery in Billings employs between 150-175 staff during the sugar beet "campaign" from approximately September through February.

The sugar beet crop is planted in the early spring and reaches its peak sugar content in the fall. In early fall the beets are harvested over a six-week period and stored for processing. During the four-to-five month processing period, the plants operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week, producing pure granulated sugar from the sugar beet. The refined sugar and beet by-products are stored for year-round shipment.

Baucus' Work Days

Over the last 18 years, Baucus has spent work days in various roles including working road construction, driving an 18-wheeler and working shoulder-to-shoulder with firefighters. Baucus, named by his peers as one of the hardest working members of Congress, says the work days give him the opportunity to lend a hand and better connect with folks across the state.