Memorandum submitted by C H Williamson
1.1 My family has been growing sugar beet
ever since the industry was established in the UK, and I currently
have a quota for 3,300 tonnes with British Sugar, and have recently
entered a contract farming agreement which includes a further
1,500 tonnes, all to the Allscott Factory
1.2 Sugar Beet is the most important enterprise
on my farm, and has been for many years. Without it the business
would not have been sustainable in its present form. We would
not have been able to maintain a labour force of four employees,
nor could we have afforded to carry out environmental improvements,
such as tree and hedge planting, or devote as much land as we
have to Stewardship Schemes.
1.3 Many hauliers and contractors in this
area rely equally heavily on sugar beet to maintain a viable business.
1.4 I believe that farming sugar beet sympathetically
has greatly enhanced the environmental improvements that have
resulted from our Countryside Stewardship Scheme. It is certainly
a great benefit to biodiversity, especially bird life. I have
been cooperating with British Sugar to assess the environmental
benefits of different headland management techniques in sugar
beet fields, with encouraging results.
1.5 I do, however, accept that reform of
the sugar regime is inevitable and that the status quo is not
an option. I believe it is my responsibility, along with everyone
involved in the industry, to convince the UK Government of the
importance of the sugar beet industry and to persuade them to
negotiate a review of the Sugar Regime that will ensure its future.
2. THE EU COMMISSIONS
2.1 I am familiar with the EU's three Policy
Options for Sugar and would ask the Committee Enquiry to consider
the following points.
(a) Any new arrangements should be as simple
(b) Production quotas should be made flexible
so that, in conjunction with a Community restructuring mechanism,
production can be moved to more efficient areas, while the overall
EU production can be reduced to take account of eternal pressures.
(c) Compensation should be paid to sugar
beet growers in line with CAP reform measures in other sectors.
(d) It should be recognised that the UK produces
only 50% of its annual sugar consumption, and with imports from
ACP countries the industry is in balance between demand and supply.
(e) Any changes should be brought in gradually
to give the industry time to adjust.
I broadly support Option 1 with some modification,
as above, and I believe this has the support of the whole industry.
1 April 2004