SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) — The Western Sugar Cooperative intends to expand the production capacity at plants in Nebraska and Colorado while reducing its Torrington, Wyoming, operation to sugar storage and shipping.
Kent Wimmer, the co-op's director of shareholder relations and governmental affairs, said Thursday that staffs at the Fort Morgan, Colorado, and Scottsbluff, Nebraska, plants likely won't grow. But he said the Torrington, Wyoming, plant will shed 70 positions, leaving only six, after the sugar production from beets planted this spring ends in late winter 2016.
Co-op President and CEO Rodney Perry said in a news release that the investments will provide "strong financial returns for our growers."
"It will help us produce more sugar from the same amount of sugar beets, while using less energy to extract the sugar," Perry said. "Once the projects are complete, we will be processing all the sugar beets currently processed at our Torrington facility in the other two facilities."
The handling capacity at Scottsbluff is expected to increase 9,000 tons a day from 4,300 tons, and Fort Morgan will increase to 8,000 tons a day from 5,300 tons. Torrington's capacity is 5,200 tons per day.
Eliminating processing at Torrington will save freight costs, Wimmer said, because 60 percent of the beets processed there go past Scottsbluff from outlying areas in the northern Nebraska Panhandle.
The co-op's 1,000 grower-owners are situated in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming. They grew more than 3.65 million tons of sugar beets last year, Wimmer said.