Trump gives area beet growers ‘big win’

New legislation passed by Congress Thursday will lift weight restrictions on beet trucks traveling from Oregon into Idaho. The new legislation is seen as an important win for the local beet industry. (The Enterprise/File).

VALE – Major federal legislation signed by President Donald Trump Friday includes help for local beet farmers by overturning a federal restriction on truck weights and sizes.

The new provision – part of a $1.3 billion spending package approved by Congress Thursday – allows heavier and longer trucks on 55 miles of in Malheur County.

The initiative was a bipartisan effort between Oregon and Idaho federal lawmakers. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, and Oregon Democratic senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined with Idaho Republican senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo to push the new legislation. The legislation puts area beet growers on a level playing field with their Idaho counterparts, where heavier and longer trucks are already allowed.

That means county beet growers can ship more beets faster to the Amalgamated Sugar plant in Nampa.

The provision is narrowly tailored to non-interstate roads in the county and to cover specially designed sugar beet trucks. The initiative will lift 1,800 trucks off Oregon and Idaho roads each year and was approved by state transportation engineers.

Sugar beets are crucial to Malheur County’s agriculture economy and nearly all of them end up at the plant in Nampa.

The plant process beets from Oregon, Idaho and Washington pulled from more than 180,000 acres.

Dan Corn, a local beet farmer and a member of the Amalgamated Sugar board, said the new provision is important.

“It is going to be a big deal for us. It means less trips across the roads, less truck driver and is just a big win for everybody,” said Corn.