Sugar regime proposals welcomed by farmers’ leader and fenland grower
11:08 26 January 2013
An extension of the EU’s sugar regime has been backed by Europe’s agriculture committee.
Members voted to extend until the 2019/2020 marketing year. This proposal has been welcomed by the National Farmers’ Union.
Fenland farmer William Martin, of Littleport, near Ely, who represents all 3,500 beet growers, said: “NFU Sugar has worked hard on behalf of farmers to make sure the position of our industry is heard.
“We are therefore delighted that they have responded positively to our requests and recognised that the European beet sector would face damaging upheaval if the Commission’s proposals to end the regime in 2015 came to fruition.”
Mr Martin, who chairs the NFU’s sugar board, has argued that the home-grown industry needed time to adjust to Europe’s sugar proposals. The 41-strong agriculture committee also backed the right of growers to be represented by a single body through an inter-professional agreement.
“This safeguard is vital to give growers the necessary balance in the market as there is an only one purchaser and processor of sugar beet in this country,” he added.
Meurig Raymond, deputy NFU president had told west Norfolk growers that the regime might run to 2018 or even 2020.
n Beet growers in East Norfolk have urged British Sugar to reconsider the existing pricing structure as an urgent priority. The motion from the branch, which was accepted by the NFUs ruling council, said: “In the light of another difficult beet growing season, on-going poor factory performance and increasing ABF profitability from sugar we would urge the sugar board to review the beet pricing structure with British Sugar as an urgent priority.
“The second year in three of extreme growing conditions is not giving growers a fair return for the risk they are taking with the crop.”
Broadland farmer Richard Hirst, who is also Norfolk’s county delegate, said that Mr Martin will be taking up the issue with British Sugar.
Mr Hirst said that many growers had also voiced concerns about the frost insurance policy, which many viewed as ineffective.
Members have also been invited to attend the next branch meeting at the Sutton Staithe Hotel, near Stalham, on Tuesday, February 5 at 7.30pm when Ruth Digby, secretary to the sugar board, will be speaking. There is also a supper at 6pm but members should contact the group office to book a place.
n British Sugar’s Wissington factory has the lowest amount of beet left in the ground of the four factories.
While Bury St Edmunds has a greater area, priority is being given to processing beet at great risk from frost deteroriation.