Beet growers bitter at sugar delays
An unexpected delay by Defra in considering British Sugar's application for restructuring the European industry has annoyed leading beet growers.Fenland farmer William Martin, vice-chairman of the National Farmers' Union's sugar board, said: "I thought that the case was fairly simple and straightforward.
An unexpected delay by Defra in considering British Sugar's application for restructuring the European industry has annoyed leading beet growers.
Fenland farmer William Martin, vice-chairman of the National Farmers' Union's sugar board, said: "I thought that the case was fairly simple and straightforward. The NFU and British Sugar have been through it all with Defra.
"There can't be any surprises in it. Why is it taking this extra time? It isn't really very helpful for growers or processors who want to get on and plan ahead," said Mr Martin, who farms at Littleport.
"We are aware that like some other member states they went back to the commission for clarification, but as far as we're concerned that is not a reason for delaying the decision."
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Euro MP Robert Sturdy has criticised Defra for delaying a decision on British Sugar's application to give up 13.5pc of its quotas. Defra had indicated that a decision would be made by the first week of December.
"Once again, Defra has missed deadlines and farmers are being left in the dark," he added.
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Factories which will be processing sugar beet 24 hours a day over the holidays, have been going well. Bury St Edmunds was "going like a train," said British Sugar's Roblin Limb.
Average sugars to Sunday - Bury St Edmunds 18.05pc; Cantley 18.09pc, Newark 18.52pc; Wissington 17.88pc; Company average 18.08pc. Campaign averages - Bury 18.08pc; Cantley 17.81pc; Newark 18.2pc; Wissington 17.73pc; overall, 17.92pc.
Nominations for three members of the NFU sugar board close on December 31. Details, NFU's website.
Proposals for a soils directive that would have added significantly to the regulatory burden on farming for no perceptible environmental gain, have been rejected by EUfarm ministers.
A crucial vote took place on Thursday when France joined the UK, Germany, Netherlands and Austria, to blocked the directive.
NFU President, Peter Kendall, welcomed the decision, and said: "This has been a long, and at times, lonely battle, to bring common-sense to bear and reject a proposal that would have brought nothing to the countryside except yet more unnecessary red tape.
"We are grateful to Defra and their Brussels negotiating team for having had the courage to ensure that the principles of 'better regulation' are applied in practice, and for leading the opposition to the directive."