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Posted: 3/16/2005 6:09:40 AM EST
Thanks Bush. Glad that we can send that sugar money south to your people instead of trying to recover the American economy and keep some of our people working.


'Sad day' at sugar plant
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
DEAN BOHN
THE SAGINAW NEWS
For 15 years, Charles B. Neuenfeldt's life was calm and on track.

But with the announcement that Michigan Sugar Co. will stop production at its Carrollton Township plant -- eliminating Neuenfeldt's job and those of 64 other full-time employees -- the 41-year-old Saginaw resident is reeling from speculation about his future.

"It scares the hell out of me," he said. "I've had a good job for 15 years. I can't complain about how Michigan Sugar treated me. But it's hard to be happy when you're losing your job."


Saginaw Township-based Michigan Sugar this spring will lay off the workers and halt production at the century-old Carrollton factory, 341 Sugar.

That means another 100 seasonal workers won't have jobs this fall.

The economic ripples are far-reaching.

Carrollton Township Supervisor Marvin Kozara said officials are trying to determine how big a hole the plant's closure will leave in municipal and school budgets.

"It's one of the biggest taxpayers in Carrollton," Kozara said. "We have to look at what kind of local services we'll have to lose or cut back on."

Cause and effect

A saturated market, rising energy costs and the fear of more sugar imports under the Central American Free Trade Agreement forced the closure, said Mark S. Flegenheimer, president and chief executive officer of Michigan Sugar.

"It's a tough thing to do," Flegenheimer said. "It's a lot of dedicated employees. It's no fault of anything they've done."

Company officials on Monday informed the work force of the factory closure. The last day of work, targeted for early spring, is still not set.

"Anytime you close a plant and take away jobs, it's a sad day for anyone," said Thomas V. Zimmer, chairman of the grower-owned co-operative and a sugar beet farmer who lives near Unionville in Tuscola County. "We didn't make (the decision) emotionally, we made it economically."

While production will end, the company will keep the site open for storage, packaging and distribution.

"Most all of the workers are 20-year employees," Flegenheimer said. "Their wages were $10 to $20 an hour, depending on their skills, position and seniority."

Neuenfeldt said most of the workers were in the upper end of the pay scale.

JoAnn T. Crary, president of Saginaw Future Inc., Saginaw County's economic development arm, said she hopes the displaced workers can find other jobs in the industry.

"This is very disappointing, but we're hopeful that some of the impacted workers will have opportunities at one of the other Michigan Sugar plants," she said.

Flegenheimer said it is too early to speculate if the other plants -- in Bay City, Caro, Croswell and Sebewaing -- could absorb any of the Carrollton workers. The Carrollton plant has the smallest capacity and highest fuel costs, he said.

The factory processes 3,200 tons of beets per day compared to 3,700 in Caro, 4,000 in Croswell, 5,500 in Sebewaing and 8,000 in Bay City.

All the plants are old -- built within two years of 1900 -- but the Carrollton plant constructed in 1902 operates on oil and natural gas. The Bay City plant operates on natural gas but has more modern, energy-efficient equipment, Flegenheimer said. The other three plants burn coal, which is cheaper.

"We would love to run it," he said. "But under current conditions, we can't. It was an economic decision."

The move will save $4 million to $6 million a year, he said.

Keith E. Pahl, vice president of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 259 in Carrollton Township, would not comment Tuesday. The union represents workers at the plant.

The tip of the beet

The folding of sugar companies is becoming a national trend, Flegenheimer said.

"A factory in Idaho closed a month ago, two plants in Louisiana closed two months ago and one in Florida just announced that it will close after the next (processing) campaign," Flegenheimer said.

Company officials blamed imported sugar for squeezing mid-Michigan's grower-owned product off the market. The government regulates allotments determining how much each company can sell.

That has shrunk the amount Michigan Sugar can sell to 450,000 tons per year. The company has the capacity to produce more than 500,000 tons per year. Flegenheimer said free-trade agreements and foreign sugar are costing mid-Michigan farmers a significant percentage of the U.S. market.

"This country is making room for imports that we don't need," he said.

Flegenheimer said he doesn't know if the Carrollton plant will ever reopen.

"It's tough to speculate," he said. "A new farm bill is coming in 2007 and we're not sure what the provisions are or how the allotments to sell will be defined.

"If we keep doing the free-trade agreements, who knows if any of the plants will stay open."

U.S. Rep. Dale E. Kildee, a Flint Democrat, has fought against congressional passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

"He believes (the plant closure) is just an early warning sign of how damaging CAFTA can be to the sugar industry, and he's going to fight it tooth and nail," said Kildee spokesman Peter Karafotas.

Although U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, a Midland Republican, is an avowed free trade advocate, spokesman Sage Eastman said Camp shares the same concern about the CAFTA effect on the mid-Michigan sugar industry.

"Frankly, how it impacted sugar was one of the reasons passage was delayed last year, and it's not on the schedule this year," he said.

Crary said Saginaw Future may enlist the support of Saginaw County Vision 2020s Government Committee to examine the potential impact of CAFTA and the 2007 federal Farm Bill on mid-Michigan.

"These are complicated global trading issues that are impacting Michigan Sugar and its growers that could very well spread to the entire Thumb of Michigan," she said in a prepared statement.

For now, Camp and Kildee are working on relief for sugar beet farmers already hit with an estimated $33 million loss in unrealized revenue because of sugar beet spoilage this year.

"We're seeing some movement, and we're garnering more support for relief. But there aren't quick and easy solutions when it comes to getting federal aid," Eastman said.

Sugar officials also plan to seek new ways to market their product because of the recent trend among consumers to use less of the sweetener.

"Sugar consumption has been flat or declined in the past two years for a variety of reasons -- the low-carb craze or whatever -- when we used to see steady increases in consumption in line with population growth," Flegenheimer said.

In response, growers are planting less.

The company has contracted farmers to grow 160,000 acres of beets this spring, 15,000 acres fewer than the acres/shares owned by growers.

"The growers are planting less sugar beets to try to match production with what we can sell," Flegenheimer said. "At least they know what's going on before the spring season starts and can switch to another crop."

Meanwhile, Neuenfeldt now is mainly preoccupied with the welfare of his children.

With two sons, 7 and 9, to raise, Neuenfeldt said he's trying to find another job before his ends in about a month.

"Every night I've been running Monster (an Internet job-search site) and calling everybody in the business that I know," said Neuenfeldt, agricultural manager at the plant.

"With a bachelor's degree in crop and soil sciences, it's not like you can walk into another job somewhere like I was a plumber or a contractor.

"It's hard to find a job to begin with, but harder for someone my age. I turn 42 in May. I may have to move."

Like most people, Neuenfeldt said, he has a mortgage, car payment and credit card bills.

"We just put in a new floor in the kitchen and bought a new dining room table," he said. "It's a few thousand dollars, nothing big, but it adds up." v

© 2005 Saginaw News. Used with permission


Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:13:11 AM EST
Welcome to the Club.
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:16:02 AM EST
Ahhhh

Captialism at work. Find a new line of work.
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:18:04 AM EST

Originally Posted By Happyshooter:
Glad that we can send that sugar money south to your people instead of trying to recover the American economy

news flash! There's nothing to "recover from" the economy is booming.
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:21:15 AM EST
Why is it Bush's fault? Everything goes through Congress. And another thing noted inthe article :

Sugar consumption has been flat or declined in the past two years for a variety of reasons -- the low-carb craze or whatever -- when we used to see steady increases in consumption in line with population growth," Flegenheimer said.


If you was being sacastic, never mind my post. WD
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:21:26 AM EST

Originally Posted By Guns_N_Shizzle:
Ahhhh

Captialism at work. Find a new line of work.



I live in Sugar Beet country.... It is a main source or income for many many communities in my area. There is a plant only 20miles away. Closing that plant, and others could devastate my towns economy; maybe end my job....no kids in school, means no need for Art teacher.

That said, I agree 100% with your statement.
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:21:27 AM EST

All the plants are old -- built within two years of 1900 -- but the Carrollton plant constructed in 1902 operates on oil and natural gas. The Bay City plant operates on natural gas but has more modern, energy-efficient equipment, Flegenheimer said. The other three plants burn coal, which is cheaper.

"We would love to run it," he said. "But under current conditions, we can't. It was an economic decision."

The move will save $4 million to $6 million a year, he said.



Really has nothing to do with Bush or the economy
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:26:28 AM EST
And this is Bush's fault...how?



Just because a 100 year old sugar plant can no longer compete in a global market...or for that matter even within the borders of the USA...THIS is Bush's fault?

PULEEEZE!
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:30:40 AM EST
Bush is allowing free import of south american sugar. This stuff is made in plants that don't meet US standards for environmental, worker safety, or even food grade standards. Of course they can undercut clean, safe, well run plants in America that provide a living wage to their workers.
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:31:03 AM EST
In my estimation, the closing of old, out-of-date manufacturing plants is clearly indicative of a thriving economy. There is no place for factories, regardless of the product, that cannot keep up with current demand. Sure, it will suck for those who find themselves suddenly out of a job, but then again they should have seen the handwriting on the wall.
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:34:26 AM EST

living wage


There's that union buzz word again.

Straight out of Mao's Little Red Book, comrade.

Workers of the world unite!

Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:35:55 AM EST
For those who live in the mid michigan area and are newly unemployed. There are several employers who are pretty much always hiring in that area.

1. State prisons
2. Mejier warehouses
3. Dart container in Mason
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:37:04 AM EST
I'm as non-union as they come. The truth is that a guy can pay for his home and help his kid go to college through hard work at $15 per hour at the sugar plant.

He can't even feed his family at $7 per hour, which is what he is going to get at Wally-World.
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:37:36 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/16/2005 6:38:39 AM EST by PAEBR332]
Sugar tariffs MIGHT have saved these 150 jobs.

300 MILLION Americans would have to pay higher prices for anything made with sugar or sugar by-products.

The costs of protection FAR outweigh the benefits.
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:39:09 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/16/2005 6:40:38 AM EST by ZitiForBreakfast]
This made me laugh:

Most of the employees were 20 year emp's and they were making $10-$20.00 an hour?!

Sounds to me like they are not to smart for working so long for so little. And, towards the end of the article, many many factors went into the decline, not just the Trade Agreement....

This is typical of Bush bashers....No offense, Happyshooter. Honestly. There are just 100's of other varibles involved in this type of thing that no one wants to report on or event hink about. That company has every opportunity to grow, to hire firms, to take it to the NEXT LEVEL, but instead they are closing..They dont want to compete in the world market. They lost their 'comfort' and 'the way it has always been done' zone, so they are closing.

Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:40:19 AM EST

Originally Posted By Happyshooter:
Bush is allowing free import of south american sugar. This stuff is made in plants that don't meet US standards for environmental, worker safety, or even food grade standards. Of course they can undercut clean, safe, well run plants in America that provide a living wage to their workers.



So, what, the answer is Tariffs?

We have some pretty major rules regarding foodstuff imports.

You're saying the foreign plants are dirty and disgusting, but if that's the case, why haven't large lots of incoming sugar been challened? Certainly your union has an incentive to do so, and yet I don't see anything about it.

Could it be that the main issue is union scale pay makes it impossible for our businesses to compete? If so, then the solution is not more law, its a public information campaign about the exploitation of little sweat shop kiddies. Make people prefer your product, don't rely on the government to slap a tarrif on it and price you guys into the market.
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:45:59 AM EST

Originally Posted By ZitiForBreakfast:
This made me laugh:

Most of the employees were 20 year emp's and they were making $10-$20.00 an hour?!

Sounds to me like they are not to smart for working so long for so little.



No kidding.

My brother makes over $30.00 an hour working road construction, and he's an ex con with less than 5 years experiance.

My friend who is a warehouse worker at Mejier makes over $20.00 and hour and he has only been there about 11 years.

20 year employee making $20.00 an hour needs to be looking for a new job anyway.
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:46:39 AM EST
Bush needs to send out en executive orde that no one can be fired, old plants that are out dated can not be closed and that all Americans must pay the price so that no one suffers (except all of the consumers).


OH ....WAIT ... that would be socialist/communist .... or is that what we all want. I thought free trade was a good thing
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 6:47:35 AM EST
Welcome to progress.
Link Posted: 3/16/2005 9:06:53 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/16/2005 9:10:16 AM EST by bishmich]

Originally Posted By Happyshooter:
Thanks Bush. Glad that we can send that sugar money south to your people instead of trying to recover the American economy and keep some of our people working.


'Sad day' at sugar plant
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
DEAN BOHN
THE SAGINAW NEWS
For 15 years, Charles B. Neuenfeldt's life was calm and on track.

But with the announcement that Michigan Sugar Co. will stop production at its Carrollton Township plant -- eliminating Neuenfeldt's job and those of 64 other full-time employees -- the 41-year-old Saginaw resident is reeling from speculation about his future.

"It scares the hell out of me," he said. "I've had a good job for 15 years. I can't complain about how Michigan Sugar treated me. But it's hard to be happy when you're losing your job."


Saginaw Township-based Michigan Sugar this spring will lay off the workers and halt production at the century-old Carrollton factory, 341 Sugar.

That means another 100 seasonal workers won't have jobs this fall.

The economic ripples are far-reaching.

Carrollton Township Supervisor Marvin Kozara said officials are trying to determine how big a hole the plant's closure will leave in municipal and school budgets.

"It's one of the biggest taxpayers in Carrollton," Kozara said. "We have to look at what kind of local services we'll have to lose or cut back on."

Cause and effect

A saturated market, rising energy costs and the fear of more sugar imports under the Central American Free Trade Agreement forced the closure, said Mark S. Flegenheimer, president and chief executive officer of Michigan Sugar.

"It's a tough thing to do," Flegenheimer said. "It's a lot of dedicated employees. It's no fault of anything they've done."

Company officials on Monday informed the work force of the factory closure. The last day of work, targeted for early spring, is still not set.

"Anytime you close a plant and take away jobs, it's a sad day for anyone," said Thomas V. Zimmer, chairman of the grower-owned co-operative and a sugar beet farmer who lives near Unionville in Tuscola County. "We didn't make (the decision) emotionally, we made it economically."

While production will end, the company will keep the site open for storage, packaging and distribution.

"Most all of the workers are 20-year employees," Flegenheimer said. "Their wages were $10 to $20 an hour, depending on their skills, position and seniority."

Neuenfeldt said most of the workers were in the upper end of the pay scale.

JoAnn T. Crary, president of Saginaw Future Inc., Saginaw County's economic development arm, said she hopes the displaced workers can find other jobs in the industry.

"This is very disappointing, but we're hopeful that some of the impacted workers will have opportunities at one of the other Michigan Sugar plants," she said.

Flegenheimer said it is too early to speculate if the other plants -- in Bay City, Caro, Croswell and Sebewaing -- could absorb any of the Carrollton workers. The Carrollton plant has the smallest capacity and highest fuel costs, he said.

The factory processes 3,200 tons of beets per day compared to 3,700 in Caro, 4,000 in Croswell, 5,500 in Sebewaing and 8,000 in Bay City.

All the plants are old -- built within two years of 1900 -- but the Carrollton plant constructed in 1902 operates on oil and natural gas. The Bay City plant operates on natural gas but has more modern, energy-efficient equipment, Flegenheimer said. The other three plants burn coal, which is cheaper.

"We would love to run it," he said. "But under current conditions, we can't. It was an economic decision."

The move will save $4 million to $6 million a year, he said.


?????

Keith E. Pahl, vice president of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 259 in Carrollton Township, would not comment Tuesday. The union represents workers at the plant.

The tip of the beet

The folding of sugar companies is becoming a national trend, Flegenheimer said.

"A factory in Idaho closed a month ago, two plants in Louisiana closed two months ago and one in Florida just announced that it will close after the next (processing) campaign," Flegenheimer said.

Company officials blamed imported sugar for squeezing mid-Michigan's grower-owned product off the market. The government regulates allotments determining how much each company can sell.

That has shrunk the amount Michigan Sugar can sell to 450,000 tons per year. The company has the capacity to produce more than 500,000 tons per year. Flegenheimer said free-trade agreements and foreign sugar are costing mid-Michigan farmers a significant percentage of the U.S. market.

"This country is making room for imports that we don't need," he said.

Flegenheimer said he doesn't know if the Carrollton plant will ever reopen.

"It's tough to speculate," he said. "A new farm bill is coming in 2007 and we're not sure what the provisions are or how the allotments to sell will be defined.

"If we keep doing the free-trade agreements, who knows if any of the plants will stay open."

U.S. Rep. Dale E. Kildee, a Flint Democrat, has fought against congressional passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

"He believes (the plant closure) is just an early warning sign of how damaging CAFTA can be to the sugar industry, and he's going to fight it tooth and nail," said Kildee spokesman Peter Karafotas.

Although U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, a Midland Republican, is an avowed free trade advocate, spokesman Sage Eastman said Camp shares the same concern about the CAFTA effect on the mid-Michigan sugar industry.

"Frankly, how it impacted sugar was one of the reasons passage was delayed last year, and it's not on the schedule this year," he said.

Crary said Saginaw Future may enlist the support of Saginaw County Vision 2020s Government Committee to examine the potential impact of CAFTA and the 2007 federal Farm Bill on mid-Michigan.

"These are complicated global trading issues that are impacting Michigan Sugar and its growers that could very well spread to the entire Thumb of Michigan," she said in a prepared statement.

For now, Camp and Kildee are working on relief for sugar beet farmers already hit with an estimated $33 million loss in unrealized revenue because of sugar beet spoilage this year.

"We're seeing some movement, and we're garnering more support for relief. But there aren't quick and easy solutions when it comes to getting federal aid," Eastman said.

Sugar officials also plan to seek new ways to market their product because of the recent trend among consumers to use less of the sweetener.

"Sugar consumption has been flat or declined in the past two years for a variety of reasons -- the low-carb craze or whatever -- when we used to see steady increases in consumption in line with population growth," Flegenheimer said.

In response, growers are planting less.

The company has contracted farmers to grow 160,000 acres of beets this spring, 15,000 acres fewer than the acres/shares owned by growers.

"The growers are planting less sugar beets to try to match production with what we can sell," Flegenheimer said. "At least they know what's going on before the spring season starts and can switch to another crop."

Meanwhile, Neuenfeldt now is mainly preoccupied with the welfare of his children.

With two sons, 7 and 9, to raise, Neuenfeldt said he's trying to find another job before his ends in about a month.

"Every night I've been running Monster (an Internet job-search site) and calling everybody in the business that I know," said Neuenfeldt, agricultural manager at the plant.

"With a bachelor's degree in crop and soil sciences, it's not like you can walk into another job somewhere like I was a plumber or a contractor.

"It's hard to find a job to begin with, but harder for someone my age. I turn 42 in May. I may have to move."

Like most people, Neuenfeldt said, he has a mortgage, car payment and credit card bills.

"We just put in a new floor in the kitchen and bought a new dining room table," he said. "It's a few thousand dollars, nothing big, but it adds up." v

© 2005 Saginaw News. Used with permission



Link Posted: 3/16/2005 9:29:53 AM EST

Originally Posted By LWilde:
And this is Bush's fault...how?

img.photobucket.com/albums/v496/LWilde/wtfcat1.jpg

Just because a 100 year old sugar plant can no longer compete in a global market...or for that matter even within the borders of the USA...THIS is Bush's fault?

PULEEEZE!



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