Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Sir Gwilym Williams & Co (O6)

  We feel compelled to write to you concerning the changes to the sugar regime that will impact our farming business in Shropshire.

  1.  We farm approx 400 hectares, most of which belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall, we currently employ three full-time and at harvest time we have an additional five employees.

  2.  During the last few years we have had to make very significant changes to both staff numbers and working practices in order to maintain some level of profitability in the business whilst complying with ever more exacting legislation and assurance schemes.

  3.  Sugar beet presently occupies 22% of the farm and produces 35% of the gross output. It has been the backbone of the business.

  4.  Any reduction in the crops on-farm profitability will mean that we will switch to growing more combinable crops that require less labour. Therefore redundancies are inevitable.

  5.  The farm has recently become a part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in which the Sugar Beet crop plays an important ecological role by encouraging undisturbed over-winter stubbles. These will be lost.

  6.  We can adapt to change if we have to, but to open the door to imports from countries that for many reasons are able to produce cheaper sugar of suspect purity and quality then our industry will be finished.

19 March 2004

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