Savage Growers Balance Full Time Business And Sugar Beet Growing
Craig McPherson is an entrepreneur, business owner and farmer. Patriarch to the McPherson family with six children and seven grandchildren, Craig owns and operates the farm that has been operated by his family for four generations. Throughout those generations, the McPherson family has grown the crop crucial to the economy of Richland County, the sugar beet.
Graduating high school in 1979, Craig went straight to work on the family farm, and has been doing it since. Now, hiss son, Alex, manages the day to day operations of the farm. Alex is assisted by his wife, Carly, two H2-A laborers from South Africa, and an additional staff of four or five friends and family members during harvest. All the help, however, doesn’t mean that the farm isn’t a lot of work. Alex explained to the Roundup, “It’s a lot harder than most people think. It’s a full-time job.”
In addition to the full-time job of farming sugar beets, Craig McPherson also owns and operates what many consider a local landmark in Savage, Craig’s Meats. McPherson, who calls the butchering and processing industry “a lost art, and lots of work” is thankful for Alex, who allows him to maintain long hours in town at the meat shop. McPherson says, ““I want to be at the farm more, but the meat shop has been very good and very busy and has taken up a lot of my time, but my son has been good to do a lot of the farming.”
Both Craig and Alex McPherson are relatively optimistic about the future of sugar commodities and life in the sugar beet farm business, and both were hopeful that the new presidential administration might make positive changes that could impact local growers in a good way. Craig McPherson, when asked if he was optimistic for the future, said “I have big hopes for our new president, of course. If we can shut down some of those imports, I’m optimistic.” He went on to lament the amount of sugar that is being brought into American markets, and thought that if President Trump repeals certain trade deals, it could bode well for the local sugar beet economy. Alex seconded those sentiments, saying “things could improve pretty quickly” under Trump’s administration.
For family farmers like the McPhersons, a dip or raise in sugar prices could make all the difference. When asked how important commodity prices are to his operation, he responded, “In the market, you have your expenses that go up every year, and you’d like to think the price of beets would, too. Mexico is flooding our market with sugar.”
Thankfully, the McPhersons claim that they have a friend in Sidney Sugars, the local beet processing factor. Craig told us, “Over all, we have a very good relationship with Sidney Sugars. The way we see it, they’re there to help us.” Similarly, Alex was thankful for the working relationship between the McPherson farm and the local plant.
Alex and Carly McPherson just welcomed a baby girl in October, and so the fifth generation of the McPherson family has arrived to continue their longstanding farm tradition in the community.