Memorandum submitted by the Crop Protection
The Crop Protection Association represents companies
engaged in the manufacture, formulation and supply of plant protection
products for agriculture, horticulture, home gardening, amenity
and local authority use.
Some of our member companies supply pesticide
products for use on sugar beet crops in the UK. It has been drawn
to our attention that the EUs proposal for reform on the sugar
sector will impact the growing of sugar beet in the UK. The Crop
Protection Association feels it is important that a thriving sugar
production industry should continue in the UK and that the following
points should be taken into account.
1. The UK sugar industry delivers the highest
possible efficiency of production with a minimum impact on the
environment. This safeguards supply, quality and environmental
integrity for the UK consumer.
2. Sugar beet represents a break crop which
easily matches wheat growing for grower return and has provided
one of the few relatively stable sources of income to UK arable
growers in the recent past.
3. Realistically it is only grown due to
its profitability to the farmer so that if beet profitability
were to decline then farmers would switch to other crops. Sugar
beet is not an easy crop from a husbandry side and requires a
high management input.
4. Any sector reform that does not allow
reasonable return from beet growing will risk farmers voting with
their feet and exiting the crop. The most likely replacement crop
would be winter wheat.
5. Sugar beet represents one of very few
non-combinable crops grown by UK farmers in the rotation and as
such is an important source of habitat diversity.
6. It is also a spring sown crop which has
further advantages as it provides open nesting sites for a number
of ground dwelling birds. Ground is often left uncultivated in
autumn providing vital feeding opportunities for over wintering
7. Beet crops tend to support higher levels
of broad-leaved weeds (which are harder to control in a broad
leaf crop) than comparable grain crops, in turn supporting higher
8. Sugar beet is a valuable weed-cleaning
crop especially for the reduction of grass weeds. As growers are
able to control problem weed grasses with many of the general
herbicides used in beet it also has an important anti-resistance
role to play. Control of grasses such as black-grass can frequently
be achieved without using herbicides from under pressure chemistry
thus helping to prevent the build up of resistance to these products.
2 April 2004