NFU deputy president gives up his sugar beet crop as farm factors converge

NFU deputy president Guy Smith, who farms at St Osyth, near Clacton Picture: NFU

NFU deputy president Guy Smith, who farms at St Osyth, near Clacton Picture: NFU - Credit: Archant

A combination of factors including lower prices and a ban on an insecticide which used to be used by growers, have caused an Essex farmer - and deputy president of the National Farmers Union (NFU) - to reassess his sugar beet crop.

Guy Smith, who farms at St Osyth, near Clacton-on-Sea, won’t be growing the crop next year. Instead, he’ll be planting more wheat.

The British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) applied for a UK neonicotinoid derogation from the European Union but this was rejected. Meanwhile, farmers in Bulgaria, Rumania and Poland got one. “The tools of production are taken away from us. That makes us less competitive and gives advantage to other farmers,” he explained. “It’s increasingly a problem.”

There were other factors, such as not having a field with good irrigation available, but the ban was the “nail in the coffin”. “I’m probably not the only farmer who’s going to walk away (from sugar beet growing) next year,” he said.

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