Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Blankney Estates Ltd (O43)

  Blankney Estates Ltd—A large farming Company situated in Lincolnshire who have grown sugar beet for many years.


  As a grower of sugar beet Blankney Estates Ltd supports the need for reform of the European sugar regime in line with the main reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. However, the changes should be balanced and phased in to allow the industry time to adjust and then to continue to operate efficiently in the future. Our concerns are outlined as follows.

  2.   Blankney grow around 400 ha of sugar beet each year. This represents 7% of the farm area, but the crop contributes 14% of annual sales, making it a key crop to help the business achieve profitability.

  3.   Labour: With the main demand for labour coming late autumn and through the winter, sugar beet helps to achieve an even labour profile through the business and helps to maintain a core of regular labour on the farm. Without sugar beet the number of full time employees (which has already reduced considerably over the last few years) would decline further. Nationally it is estimated that 20,000 jobs depend on the UK sugar industry, most of which are based in rural areas.

  4.   Environment: As a spring sown crop sugar beet provides the opportunity to leave over-wintered stubbles. This has proven to be of great benefit to the bird population. If sugar beet were to be replaced it would be with yet more autumn sown crops.

  5.   Industry Efficiency: The UK possesses one of the most efficient sugar industries from field to supermarket shelf, working to the benefit of all consumers at a realistic cost.

  6.   Crop Assurance: UK produced sugar provides consumers with the benefit of high quality food produced to the most stringent social and environmental standards. Assurance schemes cover the crop from field to end user.

  7.   Quotas: The UK is broadly in balance between supply and demand and does not produce surplus tonnage to be released onto the world market aided by subsidies.

  8.   Imports: The UK currently imports half its sugar requirement from developing countries. These countries do not wish to see a rapid decrease in the UK domestic sugar price.

  9.   Environmental Effects of Transport: Domestically produced sugar has far less of a haulage requirement and therefore a reduced environmental impact when compared with imported sugar which may need transporting up to 12,000 miles from source to consumer.

  10.   Invitation: Blankney Estates would welcome a visit from members of the Committee to provide them with the opportunity to discuss this matter with those involved in the growing of the sugar beet crop.

30 March 2004

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