Idaho’s Amalgamated Sugar will contribute $500,000 to support improvements at the University of Idaho’s Parma Research and Extension Center.
Sugar beets rank among Idaho’s top crops, generating sales of $322 million in 2019. The sugar processing industry contributes 1.7% of Idaho’s Gross State Product. Amalgamated Sugar is the second-largest beet sugar producer in the United States and operates plants in Nampa, Twin Falls, and Paul.
“Amalgamated Sugar is extremely pleased to contribute to the advancement of the Parma Research and Extension Center,” said John McCreedy, president and CEO of Amalgamated Sugar. “For years, agriculture in the Northwest has benefited greatly from the high-quality research performed at the facility. The investments in state-of-the-art plant and soil health facilities by the state of Idaho, University of Idaho, and the private sector will continue the tradition of delivering top-notch agricultural research to all stakeholders.”
The U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences plans a $7 million upgrade to its Parma center. The plan calls for Idaho’s agriculture industry to contribute $3 million to the project and for the state to match that total. The college will contribute the remaining $1 million to establish the Idaho Center for Plant and Soil Health. The new facility will include modernized laboratories and equipment to improve the Parma center’s capacity for cutting-edge research and attract talented scientists.
The Idaho State Board of Education recently approved a request by the college to proceed with planning and design for the project. The college will convene a steering committee of industry stakeholders to inform the design process. The center is expected to be completed in 2023.
“This gift from one of Idaho agriculture’s top sectors is critical,” said CALS Dean Michael P. Parrella. “It shows sugar beet growers and processors are confident the Parma project will provide information to help keep the industry economically viable moving forward.”
The Amalgamated Sugar gift puts private fundraising at more than 80% of its goal.
“We’re still in the fundraising mode so having the sugar beet industry and all these industry stakeholders such as wine, onions, barley, hops and other groups contributing support makes it easier for the state to support the project,” Parrella said. “It becomes a matching situation rather than us just holding our hand out to the Legislature and asking for help. This major gift from the sugar beet industry accelerates the whole process.”