Memorandum submitted by Hirst Farms Limited
As a grower of sugar beet in East Norfolk I
would like to make the following submission to the Efra committee
as it considers the reform of the EU Sugar Regime.
Sugar beet is a profitable spring crop that
provides good environmental benefits both to wildlife and the
countryside in general. It provides local sustainable jobs and
is creating profit that leads to tax.
The benefits to LDCs and ACPs is there already
and any significant change in the regime will only lead to benefits
to one or two South American states where huge environmental damage
is and will occur, whilst causing economic and environmental damage
to those countries already benefiting from the existing regime.
1. I grow about 50ha of sugar beet per year
in a rotation that includes cereals,vining peas, potatoes and
field vegetables. Sugar beet on this farm is one that at present
is profitable and is underpinning the small farm profit that we
make. This profitability is important because it enables us to
support many local businesses in the purchase and maintenance
of machinery, purchase of crop inputs and also paying general
taxes that support other areas of public expenditure.
2. The sugar beet crop provides a diverse
range of habitats for a range of bird and animal species. It provides
ideal nesting sites for a range of ground nesting birds such as
skylarks and grey partridge, both of which we are encouraging
on the farm as part of our Countryside Stewardship Scheme. The
crop also allows retention of stubbles through the autumn and
winter that allow feeding areas for wildlife. If I was not growing
sugar beet then it is likely I would crop winter cereals instead
which do not provide the same feeding opportunities.
3. The sugar industry in the UK is highly
efficient and provides a local source of raw material to a range
of companies that require sugar in the food production. It is
environmentally sustainable as regards food miles and maintenance
of the rural countryside. The environmental controls that are
placed on the farming industry can be easily policed whereas if
sugar sourced from other parts of the world and notably South
America all types of environmental damage can occur over which
we have no control.
4. The support given to LDC through existing
arrangements is successful in allowing access to a protected market.
If the industry becomes unrestricted as regards imported crop
then the economic and environmental effects the ACP countries
could be devastating. I do not see what advantage there is to
any other country apart from one or two South American states
that changing the existing growing arrangements will have apart
from negative ones.
Many thanks for the opportunity to raise a few
points and I hope that the committee supports a modified Option
19 March 2004