Peterborough: Sugar beet growers meeting to discuss British Sugar offer of extra £3/tonne

Farmers' leaders are battling for better beet prices

Farmers' leaders are battling for better beet prices

Beet growers have called a special meeting to discuss British Sugar’s offer of an extra £3 per tonne to grow next year’s crop, which was announced at the Cereals’ event in Lincolnshire.

British Sugar, which runs four refineries in England, including at Bury St Edmunds, also plans to invest £50m in efforts to improve processing performance.

Colm Mackay, British Sugar’s agricultural director, told about 250 growers near Lincoln: “We recognise that the last few growing seasons have been particularly challenging for our sugar beet growers and we have listened to concerns regarding campaign length, factory reliability and price.”

His statement that the basic beet price for the 2014 crop would £30.67 per tonne, was heard in silence although there was polite applause when growers’ leader William Martin, who farms at Littleport, said that the NFU sugar board has not accepted the offer.

Mr Mackay, added: “We have proposed to pay £3/t over and above the agreed pricing mechanism. This results in a proposed price of £30.67 tonne plus late delivery bonuses for the 2014 crop, which represents a significant movement from last year and will deliver a positive margin for growers in favour of sugar beet versus alternative crops.”

He said that the processor recognised that campaign performance had been a major concern to growers. Accordingly, a total of £50m would be invested at the factories.

The projects also included increasing storage capacity at Cantley, subject to planning approval, which would involve about £5m investment.

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Mr Mackay, added: “Currently the NFU feel unable to support that proposal. Clearly we’re disappointed that we haven’t reached an agreement at this stage.”

William Martin, chairman of the National Farmers’ Union’s sugar board, which represents about 3,500 growers, has invited growers to the Peterborough showground on Tuesday to consider the offer. He said that it was “was not enough of a move but “this does represent the first step on the path.”

A grower meeting will be held at the East of England showground, Peterborough, on Tuesday at 9.30am.