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Crystal buys facility to grow

American Crystal Sugar Co. is buying an unwanted manufacturing plant to get something it wants very much - the right to grow more sugar beets. The Moorhead-based company purchased the assets of the Pacific Northwest Sugar Co.

American Crystal Sugar Co. is buying an unwanted manufacturing plant to get something it wants very much - the right to grow more sugar beets.

The Moorhead-based company purchased the assets of the Pacific Northwest Sugar Co. of Moses Lake, Wash., Crystal Sugar President James Horvath said in a letter to shareholders.

The assets include a mothballed sugar plant that American Crystal doesn't want and doesn't plan to operate, Horvath said.

But the assets also include a federal allotment that will allow American Crystal to grow more sugar.

"Due to the fact that we do not intend to operate the facility at Moses Lake, we expect to plant more acres in the Red River Valley than would otherwise have been possible under the provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill," Horvath wrote.

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Horvath said in his letter that more information will be presented at factory meetings next month. American Crystal has plants in Moorhead, East Grand Forks, Minn., Crookston, Minn., Hillsboro, N.D., and Drayton, N.D.

Jeff Schweitzer, American Crystal spokesman, said Thursday he wasn't able to comment on the deal or Horvath's letter.

The 2002 Farm Bill places limits on how much sugar cooperatives can produce. Acquiring the Washington company will allow American Crystal to increase its share.

American Crystal has about 3,000 farmer-shareholders. They expect to harvest about 494,000 acres of beets this year.

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