Beet Institute Shifts From Politics To Agronomics, Herbicide Resistance

The 2014 version of the International Sugarbeet Institute event is March 12-13, rotating north to the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D.

With the farm bill passed, this year’s keynoter at the institute shifts to agronomy and sports. The main agricultural keynoter is Tom Peters, the newly named North Dakota State University/University of Minnesota Extension sugarbeet agronomist and weed specialist. Peters will talk about developing new biotech traits.

It’s interesting that Peters retired from Monsanto after 24 years. Peters holds a doctorate from North Dakota State University in agronomy and a sugar beet weed specialty.

Peters replaces the sometimes controversial Jeff Stachler, who left for a private industry post in March 2013 after serving in the post since 2008. Stachler had been a prophet in raising the warnings about herbicide resistance in weeds, a problem that particularly involves glyphosate (Roundup) resistance. Stachler raised eyebrows when he suggested farmers needed to be more agressive about roguing sugar beet fields by hand, eliminating weed infestations entirely.

 I can’t wait  to see what a former Monsanto staffer brings to this issue.  

There will still be some discussion about politics. Luther Markwart, executive vice president, who keynoted last year’s show, recently summarized several priorities for the organization:

  • Solving the recent market collapse, and balancing the market with Mexico.
  • Defending the just-passed farm bill – “a constant job.”
  • Studying future trade agreements and potential future negotiation rounds for the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation in Singapore.
  • Food labeling. The ASGA is one of 30 member groups in a Coalition for Affordable Foods which is seeking “consistency and rationality in our food labeling system,” Markwart says.

Luther Markwart, executive vice president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, spoke in March 2013 International Sugarbeet Institute in Fargo. Politics won’t be on the program this year.