Preparing the Next Generation of Sugar Growers
Sugar farmers grow far more than beets and cane. They are also growing the minds of tomorrow’s sugar producers through programs like the Amalgamated Sugar’s Youth Sugarbeet Grower Program.
Amalgamated Sugar Company, a grower-owned beet sugar cooperative headquartered in Idaho, began its Youth Sugarbeet Grower Program to invest in young farmers and ensure the industry is sustainable for future generations. The program provides hands-on experience with sugarbeet farming, giving participants the opportunity to raise two shares of sugarbeets on their family farm and requiring a presentation on a research topic of their choice.
High school student Aleigha Robertson farms with her family in Paul, Idaho. Aleigha has worked to raise sugarbeets while researching topics such as cover crops.
Her participation in the Youth Sugarbeet Grower Program has taught her new skills and strengthened her advocacy for sustainable farming practices.
Her mom, Mindy, has helped her along the way. “Every good farm kid should know how to pick rock, move hand lines, drive truck, be involved in what we do and it’s important for me to teach my kids to work and to be involved in our farm and grow to love it,” Mindy said.
America’s sugar farmers, like the Robertsons, continue to invest in ways to produce sugar more sustainably. On their farm, the Robertsons have made gains with efficiency and sustainability while improving yields. They have gone from harvesting 13 tons of sugarbeets per acre decades ago to 40 tons per acre today.
“My dad has done a great job about keeping the land, being able to harvest it and use it over and over,” Aleigha added. “And then that just means my siblings, if any of us want to come back, it’s here for us and we can use it.”
Check out some more of the sweet ways our sugar producers are helping to create a more sustainable future by viewing our Sugar Sustainably series on YouTube.