Memorandum submitted by J A & P E
We are sugar beet growers and hauliers farming
near Thetford, Norfolk. This crop is extremely important to us
for several reasons. It gives us an annual income of approximately
£200,000 and is the largest cash crop contribution to our
1. We grow 6,500 tonnes of sugar beet on
our farm and it is produced on 150 hectares of land. This crop
is the biggest contributor to the arable department and it is
a very important break crop in the rotation. We employ four men
to do all the arable work, if this crop was lost to us we would
have to reduce our staff by 50%, many would say that does not
matter but in the long run the country needs people to farm and
look after the countryside. It is very difficult finding staff
to work on farms at present and the number of agricultural students
is very low.
2. We run a small haulage operation employing
three HGV drivers which would have to be closed down if we did
not have the sugarbeet to haul during the Autumn and Winter.
3. DEFRA recently publicised some information
which indicated sugarbeet growing was good for the environment
for various reasons we would like to confirm this on our farm.
We have stone curlews which are encouraged to nest on the sugar
beet fields because the crop is spring sown. We also have skylarks
and lapwings which find the fields ideal for nesting in. We are
in the Breckland ESA and we are encouraged to attract these birds
to our beet fields.
4. It seems crazy to us that this government/EU
is considering procuring all its sugar from places like Brazil
which will entail vast expense in transport. The UK is now in
the top three of EU sugar producing countries which is no mean
achievement by farmers and British Sugar, is it right that this
industry is closed down and we are left to the vagaries of world
trade and politics for such an important commodity.
5. We only produce 50% of our own sugar
and the rest of it comes from ACP countries. We are the only country
in Europe to be in such a position. There are other countries
who contribute far more to the overproduction of sugar in the
EU and do not help the poorer countries.
6. We hope you will give the utmost consideration
to the EU sugar industry and because of the above reasons we hope
you will opt for Option 1 to secure a viable beet industry a farm
assured source of sugar, which is environmentally friendly.
24 March 2004