Memorandum submitted by Blankney Estates
Blankney Estates LtdA 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
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
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