Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Norman Jackson (Farmers) Ltd (O26)

  1.  The Jackson group farms 6,500 acres in North Lincolnshire. The farms are all arable with intensive pigs on three of the units. The farms grow wheat with break crops of sugar beet, oilseed rape and dried peas. The farms grow 650 acres of sugar beet to fulfil a quota of 1,200 tonnes. The group also have a Transport company which is involved in moving 40,000 tonnes of sugar beet to the York factory. The group has 55 employees in the arable, pig and transport businesses.

  The group farms in an environmentally sensitive way and according to all codes of good agricultural practice. Mr Jonathan Jackson is also a director of United Oilseeds, one of the UK's largest farmer co-operatives.



    We support Option 1.


    We are dependent on the economic viability of the sugar beet crop.


    We recognise the need for change.


    We believe sugar beet makes a positive contribution to the environmental biodiversity of our farms.


    We need time to adjust our business to changes if serious losses are to be avoided, not only to ourselves but to the wider rural economy around us.


    Levels of support to all national sugar beet industries within the E.U. must be fair, level and transparent.

  3. We support and recommend that Option 1 "Stable Market" be adopted. This option we believe recognises the need for change but would help to ensure an economic and environmentally sustainable future for this sector of the rural economy.

  4.  The reasons for our position are:

    —  Sugar beet has been a major contributor to the output of our farms.

    —  Sugar beet has the greatest biodiversity of any crop we grow.

    —  Sugar beet offers a break crop which underpins the efficient production of wheat on our farms.

    —  Sugar beet allows us to overwinter stubbles before ploughing, helping to sustain farmland birds populations.

    —  The rules which govern the sector should be simple.

    —  Quotas should be maintained to ensure a stable market in which all stakeholders can plan ahead.

    —  Price reductions must take account of the EU's WTO commitments.

    —  Compensation should be paid to sugar beet growers who are adversely affected by rationalisation of the industry.

    —  No EU member should be allowed to make subsidised exports at the expense of the EU budget.

    —  Any changes to the regime should be gradual to allow the sector and individual growers time to adjust and develop alternative business strategies.

    —  The long-term aim should be to encourage and develop efficient industries such as the UK's.

  5.  This is not support for the status quo but for the adoption of structured change to a system that would provide market stability and long-term sustainability for all those involved in the food chain.

26 March 2004

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