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Carbon County declares county-wide disaster over poor sugarbeet harvest

Posted at 2:39 PM, Dec 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-04 16:39:27-05

Carbon County authorities have officially declared a disaster after early frost and snow destroyed about 18% of the local sugar beet crop.

That damage also brought a hard hit to the local economy.

Carbon County commissioners blamed two early season snowstorms for stealing significant yield and quality from the sugarbeets.

The Southern Montana Sugarbeet Growers Association estimates that, of the sugarbeets harvested, about 1% of the sugar content was lost.

The association also estimates payments to growers will be about 58.5% of what they projected.

Ervin Schlemmer, who's been farming the area since 1972, told Q2 this is the worst beet damage from weather he has ever seen.

He says because they operate as a co-op, growers have ownership in the sugarbeet plant, so they share in the loss from the farm and from the factory.

The disaster declaration will help local producers become eligible for disaster relief funding, but Schlemmer says that is a long difficult process.

For more information on the disaster declaration you can call Tom Kohley at the County DES office at 406-446-1038.