Sugar beet harvest and haulage scheme set for overhaul ahead of next campaign
A harvest and haulage scheme for sugar beet growers is set to to be overhauled ahead of the 2018/19 campaign - or harvest - following concerns from farmers.
British Sugar, which has sugar factories across East Anglia including at Bury St Edmunds, and National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Sugar have announced a series of improvements to the Industry Harvest and Haulage Scheme (IHHS), which was set up by British Sugar in 2010 to provide harvesting and haulage services to sugar beet growers.
Following growers’ concerns about the operation of the scheme, the two organisations jointly funded an independent assessment of each stage of the haulier appointment process in 2017, identifying where greater transparency would benefit growers and hauliers.
The Douglas report made a number of recommendations to improve transparency and understanding, prompting British Sugar to implement a changes ahead of the 2018/19 sugar beet campaign. It said it would communicate details of these to growers “in due course”.
NFU Sugar and British Sugar agreed a set of three principles to underpin the scheme, including a focus on maximising yield potential from farm to factory and continuing to drive efficiencies, and operating the scheme transparently and with “clear, open, honest and timely communication”.· They also agreed to define, communicate and reward best practice.
NFU Sugar board chairman Michael Sly said: “NFU Sugar has maintained for some time that the Industry Harvest and Haulage Scheme (IHHS) has focused on cost reduction at the expense of value to the industry.
“Talking with growers there are plenty of examples of fragmentation in the most recent campaign, which not only goes against the core aims of the scheme, but has been a real financial and logistical burden.
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“To remain competitive in the post-quota world, our industry must focus on maximising yield potential from farm to factory. I am pleased that British Sugar has committed both to implementing the Douglas recommendations, and to work with NFU Sugar to make further changes necessary for it to operate against the agreed principles.
British Sugar boss Paul Kenward said he took the Douglas report recommendations “very seriously”.