Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Richard Maddocks (O28)

  As a farmer with a significant proportion of my land and time attributed to the growing of Sugar Beet, I feel compelled to write to you to put my case for the Sugar Beet Reform.

  1.  Of the 10 jobs that are generated by this farm, four of the employees are involved with the production of our Sugar Beet. As Sugar Beet is a wintertime crop it provides employment on the farm at a time when no other crops require significant work.

  2.  We have our own lorry and driver whose employment would be reduced by about 60% per year if he did not haul our Sugar Beet and that of three other local farmers.

  3.  In addition to those people who are employed directly by the farm there are also those whose expertise are used indirectly such as our agronomist who spends 30% of his time looking after the crop and also local businesses who supply equipment and parts for machinery.

  4.  British Agriculture has already lost 70,000 jobs over the last five years. The Sugar Beet industry supports 20,000 jobs at the moment, most of those in rural areas where employment is struggling.

  5.  The only alternative crops, which could be considered on this farm with its light land, would be cereal crops, which are already over produced and also heavily subsidised.

  6.  From a resource point of view the food miles, generated by us and our other local sugar beet producing farms, is only 16 miles from the field to the factory. I believe that the average food miles for British Sugar Beet, as a whole, is only 130 miles unlike the thousands of miles that are involved in importing Sugar Beet from other sources.

  7.  As a country we are already importing 50% of our Sugar Beet, to meet UK demand, from developing countries, which is a unique position to be in compared with other sugar producing countries.

  8.  As the UK only produces 50% of its total Sugar requirement we obviously do not produce a surplus of our quota and therefore we are not adding to those surpluses grown in Europe with their associated export subsidies.

  9.  By producing our own Sugar Beet we have the reassurance that it has been produced to high food quality standards with full traceability. In fact the use of pesticides on the sugar beet crop has reduced significantly over the last 20 years.

  10.  The reduction in the use of pesticides has had a knock on effect of providing valuable cover for birds and other animals during the winter months on our farm and those around us.

26 March 2004

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