Historical Timeline

Historical Timeline 

  • 1890

    Henry Oxnard and investors open beet sugar factory in Grand Island, Nebraska.

  • 1891

    Oxnard builds factories in Norfolk, Nebraska, and Chino, California.

  • 1899

    Oxnard opens factory in Ventura County, California. The area around the plant later becomes the town of Oxnard.

    On March 24, four plants are combined into American Beet Sugar Company.

  • 1900

    American Beet opens factory in Rocky Ford, Colorado.

  • 1918

    Crookston-area farmer Carl Wigand ships beets to Chaska, Minnesota, for processing. Over next few years, a number of Red River Valley farmers send beets to Chaska plant, owned by the Minnesota Sugar Company.

  • 1923

    Minnesota Sugar Company announces plans for beet sugar factory in East Grand Forks, Minnesota.

  • 1924

    American Beet buys Minnesota Sugar Company and its plants in Chaska, Minnesota, and Mason City, Iowa.

  • 1926

    East Grand Forks plant opens October 6.

  • 1928

    S.W. Sinsheimer becomes American Beet president.

  • 1929

    American Beet takes control of Amalgamated sugar, which operates several factories in Utah, Idaho and Montana.

  • 1934

    Claude Boettcher elected chairman of the board.

    On August 26, American Beet changes its name to American Crystal Sugar Company.

    Congress passes the Sugar Act, establishing annual quotas for foreign and domestic sugar.

  • 1935

    Growers begin organizing Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.

  • 1936

    American Crystal exchanges its controlling stock in Amalgamated and $270,000 for plants in Missoula, Montana, and Clarksburg, California.

  • 1948

    American Crystal plant in Moorhead, Minnesota, opens September 11.

  • 1954

    On August 28, American Crystal dedicates plant in Crookston, Minnesota, its third in the Red River Valley.

  • 1955

    H. von Bergen named president.

  • 1959

    American Crystal closes Oxnard plant.

  • 1962

    Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association hires Al Bloomquist as executive director.

  • 1964

    Grand Island plant closes after 74th campaign.

  • 1965

    American Crystal's fourth Red River Valley factory, in Drayton, North Dakota, opens October 2.

    Missoula plant closes.

  • 1966

    Charles Briggs named president.

  • 1971

    American Crystal closes Chaska plant.

  • 1972

    On January 28, Bloomquist writes Briggs, proposing that valley growers buy American Crystal.

    On April 10, 1,500 growers meet in Grand Forks to decide whether the association should try to buy American Crystal. Seventy percent vote yes.

  • 1973

    On February 15, Crystal Grower's Corporation, formed as a vehicle for merging with American Crystal, approves the $86 million purchase.

    American Crystal growers purchase American Crystal Sugar Company and form a cooperative, uniting the Company and the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.

    Jack Tanner takes over the American Crystal presidency. William Brekken serves as the cooperative's first chairman of the Board of Directors.

    The cooperative pumps $13.8 million into improvements during its first full fiscal year.

  • 1974

    Arnet Weinlaeder is elected chairman of the board.

    New corporate headquarters open in Moorhead, Minnesota.

    The board approves a $61 million, three-year expansion program.

    The federal sugar program, which had provided a stable market for more than 40 years, comes to an end.

  • 1975

    American Crystal adds its fifth Red River Valley factory in Hillsboro, North Dakota, after a merger with Red River Valley Cooperative.

    Pile splitting, a concept introduced by American Crystal, is now a standard sugarbeet storage practice.

  • 1976

    The Company celebrates the opening of an addition to the East Grand Forks, Minnesota, plant that increases its slicing capacity by 4,500 tons per day.

  • 1977

    In just four years, American Crystal increases beet acreage to 300,000 acres, nearly doubling the acreage planted when the Company was run from Denver.

    An $8 million research center is completed on the outskirts of Moorhead, near the Moorhead factory.

    Legislative protection of the U.S. domestic sugar industry is reestablished with passage of the de le Garza amendment.

  • 1978

    Freeman Winstanley is named CEO for only a few months.

    Charles Shamel is named president and CEO.

    Clark Ewen is elected chairman of the board.

  • 1979

    The company begins using forced ventilation into sugarbeet piles to cool them more effectively.

    Growers vote to implement a Quality Payment System, marking the first time a beet sugar company had paid on the basis of tons and sugar quality.

  • 1982

    American Crystal joins Midwest Agri-Commodities Company, along with Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative and Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, to jointly market beet pulp and molasses.

    American Crystal sells its plant in Clarksburg, California, parting ways with the last of its factories outside the Red River Valley.

  • 1983

    Pat Benedict is elected chairman of the Board.

  • 1986

    Ron Hayes is chosen as president and CEO.

  • 1987

    Clark Ewen is elected chairman of the board for the second time.

  • 1989

    Fred Born is elected chairman of the board.

  • 1990

    Al Bloomquist caps his many years of service to growers by serving as president and CEO.

  • 1992

    Joseph Famalette is named president and CEO.

  • 1993

    E.N. "Cactus" Warner is elected chairman of the board.

    American Crystal, Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative and Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative form United Sugars Corporation to cooperatively market their sugar.

  • 1994

    Robert Nyquist is elected chairman of the board.

  • 1995

    Marcus Richardson is named interim president.

    Construction begins on the ProGold corn wet milling plant in Wahpeton, North Dakota.

  • 1996

    Daniel McCarty is named president and CEO.

    American Crystal installs a new information system known as SAP, designed to change the way business is done in an increasingly competitive environment.

  • 1997

    Wayne Langen is elected chairman of the board.

    United Sugars Corporation welcomes United States Sugar Corporation, a Florida cane sugar producer, to the cooperative family.

    An employee Suggestion System is implemented. By the end of the year nearly 400 suggestions were submitted on ways to improve the Cooperative's performance.

    Record snowfalls and 13 blizzards, followed by the most devastating flooding in the valley's history, created enormous challenges for the cooperative and its employees.

    ProGold reaches an agreement in which Cargill would manage the plant and market its products.

  • 1998

    American Crystal growers plant a record 492,000 acres prompted by an acreage expansion plan and preferred stock sale conducted in November 1997.

    James Horvath is named president and CEO.

  • 1999

    A $66 million Hillsboro expansion project is brought online, significantly increasing the factory's capacity to slice beets.

    American Crystal enters into an agreement with Betaseed, Inc., as the new Crystal beetseed partner for research and distribution.

    Storage and processing capabilities are put to the test with the largest crop in the cooperative's history-10.7 million tons. Factories process sugarbeets in June for the first time.

    The board approves a 20-foot pile initiative to bolster beet receiving and storage capabilities in order to store more beets at preferred lower pile heights.

  • 2000

    A state-of-the-art $103 million Crystech molasses desugarization facility is completed, turning about 200,000 tons of molasses into top-quality sugar each year.

    The first full year of operations is completed for a $7 million Hillsboro wastewater treatment facility, one example of the company's ongoing environmental commitment.

    Due to severely deflated prices and an oversupplied domestic marketplace, American Crystal, along with many other domestic producers, opts to forfeit sugar to the government for the first time in nearly two decades.

    A Payment-in-Kind program (PIK) helped rebalance sugar supply and demand, resulting in about 100,000 acres of sugarbeets (including 33,000 at American Crystal) not being harvested and about 290,000 tons of sugar being removed from the domestic market.

    The company ramps up efforts to promote "Gold Standard" agronomic practices that enable shareholders to grow a better crop, regardless of the weather.

  • 2001

    Robert Vivatson is elected chairman of the board.

    A second PIK program eliminates about 88,000 acres (29,000 at American Crystal), taking an additional 200,000 tons of sugar off the market.

    A major political victory is achieved when a unanimous federal appeals court ruling effectively stops "stuffed molasses" from circumventing U.S. trade laws.

    New seed varieties help triple Crystal Seeds sales.

  • 2002

    A multi-year factory automation initiative is implemented to strengthen the performance and daily operations of the Company.

    The 2002 Farm Bill is enacted, including a marketing allotment program as a means of restoring balance to the sugar market.

    American Crystal purchases sugarbeet factories in Sidney, Montana; Torrington, Wyoming; and Hereford, Texas. The Torrington factory is leased to a Denver-based sugar cooperative, the Hereford factory is left idle, and the Sidney factory is operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary under the name Sidney Sugars Incorporated.

  • 2003

    American Crystal Sugar Company celebrates its 30 year anniversary as a cooperative.

    A new wastewater pond featuring a cover is installed at American Crystal's Moorhead factory to control odors and emissions.

    American Crystal acquires the marketing rights of Moses Lake, Washington, based Pacific Northwest Sugar Company to increase its marketing and production mass.

  • 2004

    G. Terry Stadstad is elected chairman of the board.

    A new $3 million wastewater pond and cover is installed at the East Grand Forks factory similar to the one installed at the Moorhead factory a year earlier.

  • 2005

    David Kragnes is elected chairman of the board.

    The sugar industry’s high profile fight against the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) ends in disappointment after it narrowly passes the House of Representatives (217-215) and the Senate (54-45).

    At East Grand Forks, a new Betaine extraction system to the molasses desugarization facility. Betaine is a highly marketable poultry feed product.

  • 2007

    David Berg is named President and CEO.

    Michael Astrup is elected chairman of the board.

    American Crystal’s Board of Directors authorizes planting Roundup® Ready sugarbeets for the 2008 crop year. 

  • 2008

    Francis Kritzberger is elected chairman of the board.

    The 2008 Farm Bill is passed. Sugar Program changes include a Minimum Overall Allotment Quantity guaranteeing domestic producers 85 percent of the market; a stipulation for the USDA to set the Tariff Rate Quota at the minimum allowable level for the first six months of the year; a loan rate increase of one cent per pound of refined sugar phased in over five years; and a sucrose-ethanol program to remove excess stocks from the market.

    A steam dryer comes online at the East Grand Forks factory, allowing the facility to dry pulp more efficiently using factory steam instead of natural gas.


  • 2009

    Neil Widner is elected chairman of the board.

    A two-phase $27 million dust control initiative is set into motion to control and limit combustible dusts from sugar, pulp, coal, and beet seed sources.

  • 2011

    Robert Green is elected chairman of the board.

    American Crystal and the sugarbeet industry receive permission to use biotech seed varieties under strict compliance agreements for the 2011 and 2012 crops.

    The Company brings in temporary replacement after a labor contract dispute results in a lockout of 1,300 Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union workers.

    A $22-million tower diffuser is installed at the Moorhead factory.

    A new beet receiving station is constructed near Lynchburg, N.D.

  • 2012

    The deregulation of Roundup Ready sugarbeet seed varieties is finalized after the USDA finds they have no significant adverse impact on the environment.

    American Crystal shareholders deliver a record crop with a never before average sugar content of 19.1 percent and 27.1 tons per acre.

  • 2013

    After a fifth vote, BCTGM agree to a new 4 year labor accord ending a 22 month long lockout.

    Total net revenue for the cooperative reaches an unprecedented $1.6 billion.

    American Crystal Sugar Company celebrates its 40th year as the nation’s first ever farmer-owned beet sugar cooperative.

  • 2014

    Passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

  • 2015

    The United States sugar industry wins its Antidumping / Countervailing Duties case against Mexico.

  • 2016

    Tom Astrup is appointed American Crystal’s eleventh President and CEO.

  • 2017

    Curt Knutson is elected chairman of the board.

    The Montgomery, Illinois transloading facility begins operating as the nation’s first forward shipping sugardome near Chicago.

    American Crystal launches a multi-year $500 million plan to expand the capability of its Drayton factory and make capital improvements at its other Red River Valley factories.

    American Crystal and BCTGM union agree to 5-year labor accord.

  • 2018

    The 2018 Farm Bill is passed by Congress.

  • 2019

    David Mueller is elected chairman of the board.

    2019 sugarbeet harvest dealt severe weather blow stranding one third of acres in grower fields. The result severely shorter factory processing campaigns and sugar production.

  • 2020

    $82 million in Federal disaster assistance provided by Congress and USDA to American Crystal and passed through to growers based on 2019 planted acres.