Memorandum submitted by KE and JM Watkins
& Son (O39)
1. I am a partner in the agricultural business
KE and JM Watkins and Son. We are farmers and agricultural contractors
heavily involved in sugar beet production. I have four specialist
sugar beet drills and three self- propelled harvesters ie a large
financial commitment; and we would spend at least half of every
year engaged on sugar beet operations. Any option bar Option 1
would completely alter my business. I employ seven men full time
and my father and my son are still heavily involved in the business.
Under Option 2 or Option 3 my involvement with sugar would obviously
cease as production of sugar beet in the UK stopped. I would not
be able to maintain my present staffing levels and the whole structure
of my men's lives would change. We also use local suppliers, engineer's
agronomists etc, so the knock on effect locally would he colossal.
We also run our own lorry, which would have to go so the same
effects would be felt with the people who supply and maintain
I am a sugar beet grower and contractor living
in Herefordshire and specializing in sugar beet, I spend six months
of every year involved with sugar beet. Purely on a financial
tack any option bar Option 1 would totally devastate my business,
I could no longer maintain my staff numbers and would have to
make half my staff redundant and not support my local suppliers
and service engineers.
2. I am also concerned about the effect
on wildlife and biodiversity if there is no sugar beet in the
countryside. As sugar beet is a spring planted crop, and it usually
follows cereals in the rotation, there are plenty of bare stubbles
for overwintering birds. Also if sugar beet was removed from the
crop rotation far more combinable crops would be grown and this
would have a great environmental impact and alter the whole structure
of this mixed farming area.
3. Looking at sugar beet from a national
point of view; the UK is alone amongst EU member states in that
sugar market is roughly shared between beet sugar from UK produces
and the British Sugar Industry (1.1 million tonnes) and by cane
sugar from the ACP countries and LDC who are the beneficiaries
of the EBA agreement. The UK beet sector does not produce surplus
quota sugar to be exported onto the world market with export subsidies,
levies are collected from the UK beet industry which are used
to fund the export of quota surpluses from other member states;
so my point is the UK sugar beet crop is a perfect example of
how sugar beet production should be in mainland Europe.
4. Looking at sugar production worldwide,
I am very concerned that Option 2 or Option 3 would just mean
Brazil would meet the world's entire sugar requirements. Brazil
has stated it has c90 million hectares of virgin land available
and just 14% of this could produce the world's entire sugar requirement.
Surely it cannot be right environmentally to be felling virgin
rain forest, and financially and strategically to have one nation
producing all the world's sugar. Also from an environmental point
of view, having to ship sugar all over the world would consume
vast amounts of fossil fuels; it must be better to produce the
sugar near to where the consumers are.
I could raise many more points, but I think
the issues I have mentioned above are the ones that concern me
30 March 2004