NFU Sugar and British Sugar take sector’s Brexit farm policy plea to Westminster
National Farmers' Union
One of East Anglia’s staple farming sectors took its message to Westminster to urge ministers and MPs to “Back British Sugar”.
Members of the Sugar Industry Programme (SIP) gathered in London to demonstrate the importance of the home-grown sugar sector which produces around half of the sugar used in the UK from four factories – at Cantley and Wissington in Norfolk, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, and Newark in Nottinghamshire – supporting around 9,500 jobs in the rural economy.
The SIP participants, who range from next-generation beet growers to technical professionals, said the industry is among the most efficient in farming so it is crucial that the government’s post-Brexit domestic agricultural policy allows this to continue.
Farming minister George Eustice said: “I was pleased to meet the participants in the SIP, through which British Sugar and NFU Sugar are investing in young talent. The British sugar beet industry has shown significant improvement in productivity in the last decade with beet sugar yields increasing by more than 25pc.
“Ongoing investment and technological advances in this home-grown industry is making an important contribution to sustainable agriculture in the UK”.
NFU Sugar board chairman Michael Sly, who farms at Thorney in east Cambridgeshire, said: “It is critical for any industry that they engage the next generation and it is clear from the reception that the sugar sector is in very capable hands for generations to come. The sugar sector is a real success story of British agriculture and I have high hopes that our success will continue.
“However, in a time of uncertainty it is crucial that a new domestic policy after Brexit provides farm businesses with the tools to be profitable, productive and progressive. There is a great collaboration between NFU Sugar and British Sugar, and we continue to work closely with government. I am confident we can continue to work together to ensure a bright future for the industry.”
This year’s SIP participants were joined by 15 MPs including Norman Lamb from North Norfolk, and Peter Aldous from Waveney.
Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar said: “It was great to meet with many of the young people who are the future of the sugar beet sector in Britain and to talk to MPs about our partnership with NFU Sugar and our 3,500 sugar beet growers across East Anglia and the East Midlands. “It’s an industry we’re really proud of, and we’re working hard to raise awareness of this British success story. Our industry has a bright future, and with a level playing field after Brexit, we can continue to compete with anyone.”