Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by R J & A E Godfrey (O10)


Our preferred option is number 1, referred to as the Stable Market

  1.  We are growers of sugar beet in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire supplying the York and Wissington factories. Sugar Beet is an important crop to us, it is profitable, and it provides both employment and bio-diversity of plants and animals. As a spring crop it is particularly helpful in providing habitat for certain farmland birds particularly ground nesting species such as the skylark.

  2.  We have considered the options put forward in the Defra consultation and our preferred option is number 1 referred to as the stable market. This option will allow efficient growers to be profitable and give stability to the market allowing re-investment decisions to be made with confidence. The other two options would have significant consequences if the income from the sugar beet crop does not cover the costs of production. There would be adverse consequences, loss of income and redundancies, in the farm input chain and in the post farm gate chain including the sugar refining sector (as operated by British Sugar). Crop rotations would change with possible adverse environmental effects resulting from increased winter crops being sown.

  3.  I do question whether freeing up the sugar market will benefit the poorest countries in the world. Taking the example of coffee, it is a salutary lesson for free market advocates that consumers in the western world paying the highest prices ever for coffee and farmers in the developing world receiving their lowest price in real terms. The so-called free market is controlled by a few multi-national traders; this could so easily be repeated with sugar if that option was chosen.

18 March 2004

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