Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Mr N Hustler (O62)


  Firstly I am a sugar beet grower with a relatively small production contract of 447 tonnes.

  Secondly I am employed during the winter months by a haulage contractor to deliver sugar beet to British Sugar's Newark factory.


  The Agricultural Economy of large areas of Eastern England is heavily reliant on the production of Sugar Beet. Farm incomes, severely reduced in recent years are now heavily reliant on the production of this crop. The Sugar Industry supports many rural jobs both within the Agricultural and Road Haulage sectors.

  It is envisaged that within the enlarged EU, Sugar consumption is set to rise over the next few years, making any substantial reduction in the EU production base extremely unwise.

  The only fair option for modernisation of the sugar regime is Option 1 (detailed below).



    The UK currently produces only half its national consumption of sugar, the remainder is already imported by way of the sugar cane crop from developing countries. In this respect the UK could be held up as a model for other EU countries to follow.


    With the current world security situation, a domestic production of only 50% of consumption would in my view be the minimum safe quantity, in order to guarantee a stable sugar supply.


    The most important objective of the sugar review must be to achieve sustainable and stable industries both within the EU and also in the developing nations. A price driven, uncontrolled world sugar market would be highly damaging to developing countries since it would negate the value of their access to the UK market. Indeed both the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the Least Developed Countries have expressed opposition to these means of reform to the sugar market. Price reductions on a large scale would simply lead to the destruction of the industry both within Europe and abroad, since it does not offer a reliable basis for investment in the future.


    An unfair burden should not be placed on the EU Sugar sector to provide a disproportionate share of the EU`s overseas aid.


    In the UK, the average cost per person, of purchasing sugar, in all products, is about 6 pence per day.


    The average "Sugar Mile" (ie distance from factory to consumer) for UK domestic production is about 130 miles, compared to between 4,000-12,000 miles for most imported sources.


    The sugar industry currently supports over 20,000 jobs throughout the UK economy, many of which are in rural areas.

  Apparently three main options are being considered by way of reform to the sugar regime:

  Option 1.  Maintain a stable sugar market but with some reductions in prices, and national quotas in some member states.

  Option 2.  Severe price reductions with the possible eventual abolition of quotas.

  Option 3.  Global liberalisation of trade in sugar, with removal of quotas and exposure to world prices.

  It is worth pointing out that with the current world security situation, a reliable source of home grown sugar, which is grown from fully traceable sources, to the highest proven standards of environmental consideration, is a very great asset indeed.

  It is for these reasons that I consider the only fair option for modernisation of the sugar regime is Option 1. All of the alternatives will lead to an insecure supply of sugar to the domestic market at wildly fluctuating prices, which is not in anybody's interest. Since the current average cost per person of purchasing sugar, in all products, in the UK is currently about six pence per day, is it really worth putting all this at risk?

1 April 2004

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