Memorandum submitted by Askham Bryan College
There is need to reform the sugar beet regime
in the UK (para 1). The sugar beet industry is a vital sector
in the UK economy, both from an economic and environmental perspective
(para 2). The sugar beet enterprise is an integral part of the
curriculum delivery at the College. It is a clear example of the
food chain in practice (para 3). Closure of the sugar beet factory
at York would have a significant impact on employment in the region
(para 4). The sugar beet regime does need reform but it is vital
that stability is retained in the market with full consideration
given to economic, social and environmental impacts (para 5).
1. CASE FOR
We accept that there is need to reform a regime
that has remained largely unaltered for many years. However, it
is important to retain stability in the market and consequently
we recommend that a modified version of Option 1 is adopted.
2. SUGAR BEET
We would point out the following facts with
regards to sugar beet in the UK:
UK is only 50% self-sufficient
UK does not contribute to EU
UK is near the top of EU rankings
in terms of cost and efficiency.
Industry supports 20,000 jobs
Home production of sugar reduces
food transport miles.
Results of DEFRA environmental
audit show that sugar beet is beneficial for biodiversity.
Substantial reductions in chemical
inputs in last two decades.
3. COLLEGE PERSPECTIVE
As a College we make extensive use of the sugar
beet crop in the curriculum. It is integral to the full range
of courses, namely National Certificate in Agriculture, First
Diploma in Agriculture, National Diploma in Agriculture, Foundation
Degree in Agriculture, and Honours degree in Food, Production,
Processing and Marketing. The sugar beet enterprise is a good
example of the food chain from production through to finished
product. We are ideally located for this, being only seven miles
from the York factory which regularly takes student groups.
It should also be pointed out that the demise
of the sugar industry would have a particular impact in this area
with the closure of a factory with some of the most modern facilities
in Europe. It is understood that the York factory employs approximately
110 people plus 60 contractors and 40 seasonal workers. It services
approximately 1,700 farms with over 100 hauliers involved in transport
of beet from the farm to the factory. Although direct employment
might appear low, it is understood that indirect employment equates
to 11 people for every single person employed at the factory.
Defra census data for June 2002 shows that 15%
of farms in the Yorkshire region are classified as General Cropping.
The greater majority of these farms have a sugar beet enterprise.
The sugar beet regime does need reform but in
such a way that there is stable market conditions in the UK, EU
and beyond. It is vital that full consideration is given to the
economic, social and environmental impacts of any reforms carried
out in the sector.
30 March 2004