Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by HW Atkinson & Sons Ltd (O27)

  1.  As an enthusiastic sugar beet grower we are very concerned as to the direction our beet industry may take in the future. The abandonment of the present quota system and the wholesale opening up to world trade will clearly lead to chaos. A loss of production control and collapse of prices would mean producer lack of confidence and force UK growers to stop growing sugar beet.

  2.  Our own situation: We grow 50-55H of beet and also harvest beet for others. Therefore we have a large investment in machinery, storage facilities and labour.

  It is essential the transport allowance be maintained.


    Financially: Beet is a major source of income for us and is an essential part of our cash flow.


    Crop rotation: Beet is a valuable break crop; it is increases soil fertility and organic matter, and helps us to grow top quality malt from spring barley.


    Biodiversity: The beet crop itself provides a completely different habitat to cereals. The late ploughing of harvested beet land followed by the spring barley and then barley stubble in the autumn contributes greatly to a more diverse and flourishing bird, animal and insect population.

  3.  The UK's balance between supply and demand should be recognised.

    —  Any changes to the current system should be gradual and well thought out.

    —  Any reduction in price should lead to compensation being paid to producers, as is the case with other farm crops.

    —  More encouragement and aid should be given for the industry to develop biofuels.

26 March 2004

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