Memorandum submitted by Cambridgeshire
County Council (O21)
By way of background, Cambridgeshire County
Council has the largest Smallholdings Estate in England and Wales
of approximately 13,600 hectares with some 296 tenant farmers
and a first step for many new entrants onto the farming ladder.
Myself and colleagues manage that Estate: the Estate has a Charter
Mark Award. It is estimated that about half of our tenants have
grown sugar beet and approximately one-third currently grow the
crop. Sugar beet is vital to the survival of many of these tenant
farmers and in recent years with falling cereal prices (2003 has
been generally a welcome relief), many would be unviable without
growing sugar beet and in turn this would make the Estate unsustainable.
In summary, like the NFU and British Sugar,
I would support Option 1 because although it would mean a reduction
in quota and prices, our producers being efficient could cope.
Either Option 2 or Option 3 would result in
an unstable European market with unsustainably low prices. Most
developing countries would not survive under Options 2 or 3 and
the value of their exports to Europe would be substantially reduced.
I do not support these options. However, I recognise that review
of the European Sugar Sector is needed to enable a sustainable
European Industry to continue in the long term. The UK beet industry
is efficient and innovative so is well placed to adapt to change.
In considering the three options it must be
the UK beet sugar industry is the
leading supplier of sugar to the UK market providing half of the
supports over 20,000 jobs throughout
the UK economy;
the UK beet sugar industry does not
produce surplus quota sugar and so does not contribute to European
surpluses exported onto the world market; and
sugar beet is beneficial for biodiversity
The UK British Sugar industry accepts that the
sector should be reformed and supports this process provided it
is done in a carefully managed way which results in a stable European
market which allows efficient industries to survive: Option 1
is the only realistic option which would achieve this.
Senior Farms Officer
25 March 2004