Beet growers face quota cut

East Anglia's beet growers face a 10pc quota cut next year as Europe battles to take out four million tonnes of surplus sugar production.The EU's plans to cut sugar production by a total of 6m tonnes have failed to slim the industry although 2.

East Anglia's beet growers face a 10pc quota cut next year as Europe battles to take out four million tonnes of surplus sugar production.

The EU's plans to cut sugar production by a total of 6m tonnes have failed to slim the industry although 2.2m tonnes has already been given up.

Now, beet growers in Europe will be encouraged to surrender their quota directly to Brussels but the raft of proposals have been criticised as “meaningless” by the National Farmers' Union.

Fenland farmer John Hoyles, who is chairman of the NFU's sugar board, has challenged the logic of the European Commission's proposals. “We want to have an efficient industry going forward. This does nothing to help,” he said.


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The proposed compensation scheme will benefit Europe's sugar processors more than growers, said Mr Hoyles, who farms at Newton, near Wisbech.

Although growers could surrender up to 10pc of national quota in return for compensation on a first come, first served basis, it would be overridden if a processor decided to take the money.

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“It is another example of the reform being controlled by processors and the commission providing the tools. All growers should have access to the scheme and should be treated equally,” said Mr Hoyles.

If Europe does not secure cuts, then an across-the-board reduction of 19pc could be imposed for the 2010 crop.

Mr Hoyles added: “We're probably going to have to get a 10pc cut anyway, so it is a question of not losing the next nine or 10pc. Then we start losing critical mass.”

British Sugar, which is the monopoly processor, closed two factories at the end of the latest campaign earlier this year. The overwhelming majority of quota sold by Allscott and York growers migrated to East Anglia and particularly Norfolk and Suffolk, which now produces about three-quarters of the country's beet sugar.

Processing is now concentrated at Europe's largest beet sugar factory at Wissington, near Downham Market, and Cantley, near Acle, Bury St Edmunds, and Newark, Nottinghamshire.

Europe has proposed a compensatory payment of about £30 per tonne of beet for 2008/9 for quota surrendered but most English growers might not be able to take advantage.

Mr Hoyles said that the proposals would apply retro-spectively for 2006/7 and 2007/8, which ignores the extensive restructuring that has taken place in Britain.

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