Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by E P Cooper & Son (O9)

  Paul Cooper is a partner in the farming business of E P Cooper & Son, and managing director of Paul Cooper Transport Ltd, which will both be affected by the reform of the Sugar Beet Regime.

  E P Cooper & Son is a family farm which has been growing Sugar Beet from the 1930s, originally taking the crop into the now closed factory at Selby, North Yorkshire. E P Cooper & Son has a Sugar beet quota of over 3,000 tonnes, which we deliver via Paul Cooper Transport Ltd which is run alongside E P Cooper & Son. Paul Cooper Transport Ltd has, in turn, been delivering Sugar Beet to British Sugar for over 30 years.

  I would therefore like to make the following points regarding the reform of the Sugar beet regime.

  1.  At E P Cooper & Son—Sugar Beet is not only a valuable part of the farm income , but is also a valuable break crop in the farm rotation. E P Cooper & Son have entered into to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme which aims to promote wildlife and birds. Defra have stated that Sugar Beet growing benefits bird life.

  In the context of air pollution and locally sourced supplies, E P Cooper & Son are only 30 miles away from the Sugar beet factory at York. Therefore transporting locally cuts down on air pollutants.

  E P Cooper & Son are also Farm Assured, which means that we produce Sugar Beet to good environmental standards.

  The farm employs three full time workers, and two other part time workers. If the amount of Sugar Beet we grew decreased dramatically this would of course affect their employment, as they are all involved in the individual stages of growth through to harvesting.

  2.  Paul Cooper Transport Ltd—delivers Sugar Beet into the York factory for 46 local farmers as well as ourselves, at a total of over 35,000 tonnes. Once again any decrease in the amount of Sugar beet grown by ourselves or any local farmers will have a catastrophic affect on our business, reducing once again our income. We have also invested in wagon units, tipping trailers, expensive loading and cleaning machines to improve our business. Four drivers are also employed to deliver the sugar beet into the factory, and of course these would not be required.

  Paul Cooper Transport delivers to York Sugar beet factory within a 30 miles radius for most of its farmers , as well as E P Cooper & Son. The sugar produced from York is also used in large amounts locally by Coca Cola and some of the sweet factories for which York is renowned. Locally sourced Sugar beet therefore once again cuts down on haulage miles and subsequently air pollution.

  3.  The Rural Economy—A reduction in the amount of Sugar beet grown in any way would have a dire affect on the rural economy. Contractors who have made investments in the machinery needed to plant, grow and harvest Sugar beet would face financial ruin. Many jobs would be lost. Once again the rural economy already in decline would suffer. The face of all the countryside in the British Isles could be changed forever.

  The workforce at the Sugar Beet factories would also not be needed, again more unemployment. The knock on effect from this would be felt in the areas income, down to the transport café supplying the lorry drivers with their morning fry ups!

  I therefore would like to recommend that Sugar Beet reform go down the path of Option 1—Stable Market.

  A stable market option would allow the British Sugar Beet industry to continue in a modified format, therefore retaining all the benefits that the British Sugar Beet industry has strived to produce. The burden of reform should be shared equally by all countries, not at the expense of one country which can grow Sugar Beet economically and environmentally like we do in Britain. A globalisation/liberal market would I feel also be catastrophic not only to Europe but to developing countries. This cannot be allowed to happen.

  I hope that my opinions will be of some help in formulating the inquiries' position in regards to the reform of the EU sugar regime. I hope that ultimately reform is reached that benefits all countries concerned.

16 March 2004

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