Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Barrington Park Estate (O22)


    —  Organic sugar beet ensures the organic arable rotation is more profitable than the equivalent conventional arable rotation.

    —  A reduction in the conventional sugar beet price would have a disproportionately negative effect on the organic sugar beet price.

    —  If the organic arable rotation were less profitable than the conventional arable rotation, the organic area would be replaced with conventional cropping.

    —  Grey partridge, native song birds, flora and fauna have increased significantly since the development of the organic arable rotation but these species may be lost if the land is returned to conventional production.

  I am a farm manager responsible for the Barrington Park Estate farms situated in the Cotswolds. The farms produce arable crops and organic beef and sheep. Part of the arable area has been converted to organic production to supplement livestock feed requirements and produce high quality crops for the milling, malting and sugar sectors.

  Organic sugar production represents a very important crop to the viability of the organic rotation and I would therefore like to submit the following points.


    A financial review of the farm's organic and non-organic rotations was undertaken in September 2003. One of the conclusions reached was that only through the organic sugar beet crop is the organic rotation able to generate a higher level of profit above the conventional rotation.


    The price paid for organic sugar beet is based on a 50% premium of the conventional price. This premium is essential to compensate the farmer for the reduction in yield, currently 35%, and the additional costs of hand labour for weed control. A reduction in the conventional price would disproportionately affect the organic sugar beet price.


    The farms have to be profitable. If the organic rotation produces a lower return to the conventional rotation then the organic land will be converted back to conventional production.


    The estate has observed an increase in the flora, fauna and wildlife following the development of the organic rotation. In particular song birds and grey partridge populations have flourished. If the organic arable land was returned to conventional production these environmental benefits could be lost.

Adrian Dolby

Farm Manager

25 March 2004

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