Memorandum submitted by the Royal Norfolk
Agricultural Association (O16)
1. I write on behalf of our 3,500 members,
many of whom are Sugar Beet producers in Norfolk. At the time
of the Defra Consultation we wrote as an Association supporting
the then Option for managed reform involving a stable market.
2. I should now like to put forward arguments
to the Select Committee Inquiry in support of the industry preferred
position for managed reform through a stable market.
The UK beet industry is one of the most efficient
in Europe, and is internationally competitive with global sugar
UK food manufacturers and consumer benefit from secure
supplies produced to high food quality, social and environmental
standards, including full product traceability and technical support.
The industry supports over 20,000 jobs throughout
the UK economy, many of which are in rural areas.
The UK beet sugar industry does not produce surplus
quota sugar and so does not contribute to the European surpluses
exported onto the world market with export subsidies.
The UK sugar market is unique, in that half of its
requirements are imported from developing countries. No other
large sugar producing country in the world is in this position,
which arguably represents a "model case" for others
Sugar is a natural and low cost ingredient for UK
consumers. The average cost per person of purchasing sugar, in
all products, is about six pence per day.
About 15% of both operating and investment costs
in the UK beet processing sector are attributable to meeting environmental
and social standards.
A detailed "environmental audit" of UK
sugar production was recently carried out by Defra and the environmental
NGOs. Its conclusions were:
Sugar beet is beneficial for
biodiversity and bird life.
Substantial reduction in all
forms of chemical inputs to the crop (pesticides, fertilisers
etc) have been made in recent years: their overall application
volume has been reduced by over 60% since 1982.
Applications of insecticides
to the crop have been reduced by over 95% since 1982.
All co-products from the processing operation (eg
animal feed, molasses, lime, soil and stone aggregate) are recovered
and used in productive applications.
24 March 2004