Memorandum submitted by M C Mountain &
Son Limited (O67)
1. My name is Mowbray Mountain, I am chairman
of M C Mountain & Son Limited.
2. My company farms, growing 4,000 tonnes
of sugar beet, contract lifts just under 3,000 acres of sugar
beet and runs a haulage business, hauling approximately 150,000
tonnes per year.
3. My grandfather started growing beet in
the 1940s, followed by my late father, then myself. Now my eldest
son runs the farming operation and my second son runs the haulage.
I organise the lifting. We employ just over 100 people. During
the sugar beet season (which is from September to February/March
depending on the season/yield etc) approximately 15-20 people
are involved in driving vehicles, maintenance of vehicles, cleaning
sugar beet, lifting it out of the ground and hauling it out of
the field before onward movement to the factory.
4. In addition we load back sugar beet pellets
to our own stores before onward movement to British Sugar's customers
during the close season. We load boats at Kings Lynn and Boston
Docks as and when required.
5. Our total involvement with the sugar
industry is worth over £1million per year to our business.
6. If, through price reductions and quota
cuts sugar beet became unprofitable, I would have to considerably
downsize my business with the loss of between 15-20 employees.
I would also NOT grow sugar beet. I think many of my lifting customers
also wouldn't, thus I would not do this part of the business as
it would not be economical. I would have to sell 25% of my haulage
fleet ( selling 10 vehicles) with the resulting job losses.
7. Alone among the EU's Member States, the
UK sugar market is shared roughly between beet sugar from the
UK's domestic beet industry (c 1.1 million tonnes) and by cane
sugar from both the ACP countries (in general former EU colonies)
and the least developed countries who are the beneficiaries of
the Everything but Arms Agreement.
The UK market is roughly in balance between
supply from domestic production and developing country imports,
and national consumption.
The UK beet sector does NOT produce surplus
quota sugar exported onto the word market with export subsidies.
Through the EU sugar regime system of producer
levies, levies are collected from the UK beet industry which are
used to fund the export quota surpluses from other EU member states.
8. The UK beet sector is efficient and environmentally
The UK's beet industry is one of the most competitive
in the EU.
Sugar beet productivity is consistently amongst
the highest in Europe.
British Sugar is the European leader in terms
of cost efficiency and technical innovation.
c 15% of operating costs and 15-20% of capital
expenditure in British Sugar are attributable to meeting the UK's
environmental and social standards.
The industry supports some 20,000, mainly rural
Sugar beet growing contributes to sustainable
development and biodiversity (especially bird life) and is one
of the most valuable "break crops" in Britain.
Customers benefit from stable supplies produced
to high quality social and environmental standards.
9. We support reform of the European sugar
sector, providing this is balanced and leads to a stable market,
which enable efficient industries to operate and invest sustainably
for the future.
1 April 2004