One-off opportunity for beet growers

Beet growers risk missing an one-off opportunity to protect their crop returns, according to one of the country's leading quota brokers."We've seen the market settle down to about £2 to £2.

Beet growers risk missing an one-off opportunity to protect their crop returns, according to one of the country's leading quota brokers.

"We've seen the market settle down to about £2 to £2.50 per tonne," said Chris Harrison, of Boston-based traders DCFM, as growers sell their contract tonnage entitlement. "This must be seen as an opportunity to get some insurance if farmers are going to continue growing beet."

Already the firm has traded "significantly more than 100,000 tonnes" as growers in the York and Allscott sugar factory areas take the money.

Fenland farmer John Hoyles, chairman of the National Farmers' Union sugar board, said a number of growers had been keen to secure tonnage.

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Although precise figures are not known, it is esti-mated that a maximum total of about 1.1m or 1.2m tonnes could be involved, with the overwhelming majority heading to the three East Anglian factories.

One quota trader has estimated that broadly half has been acquired by growers in the Wissington factory area, with a further 28pc bought by farmers in the Bury St Edmunds factory area. The balance has gone to growers in the Cantley area, almost matching the factory capacities.

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Mr Hoyles thought about one-third, possibly slightly more, had now been bought.

"I've heard that some new entrants have acquired tonnage. Many growers are topping up their tonnage," he said.

"I think that the number of growers will continue to contract and we could be seeing an industry with about 4000 growers in the coming year."

Growers in the York and Allscott factory areas who surrender their contract tonnage entitlement will receive £8 per tonne from British Sugar, or it can be traded by 5pm on October 6 to a grower in the three East Anglian factory areas.

To try to help sugar beet growers, farm business consultants Brown & Co are offering a specialist service calculating net margin potential on an individual farm basis.

Andrew Fundell, of the firm's Norwich office, has reported keen interest in a dedicated trading service from East Anglian growers.

Two seminars are being held this month to help farmers and growers to make a decision.

The hour-long sessions, which start at 6.30pm, will be at Knights Hill Hotel, South Wootton, near King's Lynn, on Monday, September 25, and at Easton College, near Norwich, on Tuesday, September 26.

Mr Fundell reported that the Brigg office had sold about 40,000 tonnes, with most trading about the £2 per tonne mark. "This gives a grower selling a golden handshake of about £9 per tonne with British Sugar's contribution," he added.

"At current values, then, a price of £2 per tonne makes a deal of sense for growers who plan to continue even if it is written off over the three-year-life of the IPA (Inter-Professional Agreement)."

For information on Brown & Co's tailored cost of production calculation service, call the Norwich office 01603 629871.

To register your interest in buying or selling sugar beet contract tonnage, visit

the website or call 01652 654833.

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