The Snake River Sugarbeet Growers Association represents sugarbeet growers in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. In Oregon there are approximately 10,000 acres of sugarbeets grown by 45 farming families. One of our amazing sugarbeet growers in La Grande, Oregon is Austin Arnoldus, a 5th generation farmer.
It all started with Austin’s great great grandpa who lived in Utah and bought the original family farm in Oregon sight unseen in 1896. Austin now farms nearly 7,000 acres with his dad. Together they raise over 17 different crops including sugarbeets, grains, alfalfa, grass seed, peppermint, edible beans, lentils, garbanzos, corn, and new to their farm is camelina.
If you haven’t heard of camelina, it is an oilseed crop that is a distant cousin of canola. It is a highly desirable renewable fuel feedstock. Camelina has many benefits including that it requires very little water, it is resistant to pests and diseases, and can be grown on fallow or idle land.
Austin’s dad, Roben started raising sugarbeets in 1991 and it is a crop they have kept in their rotation ever since. It is one of Austin’s favorite crops to harvest. Austin has been very involved with the sugarbeet industry and was elected to serve as a Director for the Nyssa-Nampa Sugarbeet Growers Association in 2020.
Growing up Austin knew he wanted to be a farmer. He even skipped school as a little boy so that he could be on the farm with his dad. Before coming back to the farm, Austin played college baseball as a catcher at American River College and College of the Redwoods. After a baseball accident that injured his hand, Austin came home and completed his degree in Agricultural Science from Oregon State University through a partnership with Eastern Oregon University.
A priority for Austin is honoring his family legacy. He is proud to be the 5th generation on the farm and everything he does is to ensure there will be future generations on the farm. One thing that Austin wishes people knew about farmers is that they aren’t trying to harm you. Everything that he does on his farm benefits the land and ensures that he will be able to continue farming.
Across the country, it is family farms like Austin’s that are feeding Americans and the world. One reason Austin got involved with the Nyssa-Nampa Sugarbeet Growers Association is to help educate people about where their food comes from. He would love to see the agricultural industry host more tours to educate the general public.