Wyoming Beet Farmers Receive Disaster Relief from the State


(Wyoming) This morning in a conference call between the Wyoming Business Council and Wyoming Sugar Company, the council presented to its board the reasons why 38 growers in Fremont, Big Horn, Park and Washakie counties needed to have their farms declared a disaster area by the state.

Heavy rains and then a cold snap over this past winter flooded and destroyed beet crops from December through February. Altogether, the loss is estimated to be $5.6 million, based on tonnage. Without a disaster designation, the ruined crops would result in the loss of up to 26 jobs across Wyoming beet farms. The circumstances of the disaster didn’t qualify the growers for “natural disaster” or flood protection from federal monies, and so Wyoming Sugar turned to the state for help.

Business Council staff recommended the loan amount of $5.6 million be approved by the board, with an additional request that they be allowed to manage the different loans to the 60 families individually affected, to speed up the process. Each of the 10-year loans will include 3.5% in annual interest. Previously, the council provided three disaster loans in the past 17 years. The most recent, in 2007, was to beet growers, totaling $1.75 million, and that has since all been paid back.

The board unanimously approved the designation, and granted Business Council staff authorization to manage individual loans without seeking board approval.

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“We’re sorry for this disaster, and we hope we can be of some assistance going forward,” said board Chairman Cactus Covello. Wyoming Sugar thanked the board and said that the designation will indeed be very helpful for beet growers.

The average cost of each loan will be about $158,000, with loans ranging up to $500,000.