History

Our Cooperative Through the Years

Deep Roots: Our Timeline

There is a rich history of sugarbeet growers, stretching across the Midwest from the late 1800s through today, that shaped our Red River Valley cooperative and factories known as American Crystal Sugar Company.

1890
Henry Oxnard and investors open a beet sugar factory in Grand Island, Nebraska.

1891
Oxnard builds factories in Norfolk, Nebraska, and Chino, California.

1899
Oxnard opens a factory in Ventura County, California. The area around the plant later becomes the town of Oxnard.

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

1900
American Beet opens a factory in Rocky Ford, Colorado.

1918
Crookston-area farmer Carl Wigand ships beets to Chaska, Minnesota, for processing. Over the next few years, a number of Red River Valley farmers send beets to the Chaska plant, owned by the Minnesota Sugar Company.

1923
Minnesota Sugar Company announces plans for a 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 was 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 the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.

1936
American Crystal Sugar Company exchanges its controlling stock in Amalgamated and $270,000 for plants in Missoula, Montana, and Clarksburg, California.

1948
American Crystal Sugar Company plant in Moorhead, Minnesota, opens September 11.

1954
On August 28, American Crystal Sugar Company dedicated plant in Crookston, Minnesota, its third in the Red River Valley.

1955
H. von Bergen was named president.

1959
American Crystal Sugar Company closes Oxnard plant.

1962
Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association hires Al Bloomquist as executive director.

1964
Grand Island plant closes after the 74th campaign.

1965
The fourth Red River Valley American Crystal Sugar Company factory, in Drayton, North Dakota, opens October 2.

Missoula plant closes.

1966
Charles Briggs was named president.

1971
American Crystal Sugar Company closes the Chaska plant.

1972
On January 28, Bloomquist writes Briggs, proposing that valley growers buy American Crystal Sugar Company.

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

1973
On February 15, Crystal Grower's Corporation, formed as a vehicle for merging with American Crystal Sugar Company, approves the $86 million purchase.

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 Sugar Company 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 Sugar Company 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 the American Crystal Sugar Company, 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 Sugar Company 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 Sugar Company 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 Sugar Company 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 Sugar Company, 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 Sugar Company 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 Sugar Company 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 Sugar Company 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 Sugar Company, 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 (PIK) program helped rebalance sugar supply and demand, resulting in about 100,000 acres of sugarbeets (including 33,000 at American Crystal Sugar Company) 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 Sugar Company), 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 Sugar Company 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 the Moorhead factory to control odors and emissions.

American Crystal Sugar Company 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 are 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 Hillsboro, 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.

The American Crystal Sugar Company 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 1 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 Sugar Company 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, North Dakota.

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 Sugar Company shareholders deliver a record crop with a never-before-seen average sugar content of 19.1 percent and 27.1 tons per acre.

2013
After a fifth vote, BCTGM agree to a new four-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 the eleventh president and CEO of American Crystal Sugar Company.


2017
Curt Knutson is elected chairman of the board.

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

American Crystal Sugar Company 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 Sugar Company and BCTGM union agree to a five-year labor accord.


2018
The 2018 Farm Bill is passed by Congress.


2019
David Mueller is elected chairman of the board.

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 Sugar Company and passed through to growers based on 2019 planted acres.