Britsh Sugar and the NFU have reached stalemate in their negotiations over a new price for the 2007/08 sugar beet contract.

“British Sugar apparently believes that the EU minimum beet price is adequate to secure all the beet supplies it needs to process the UK quota,” said NFU sugar board chairman John Hoyles.

“In discussions with growers we have received an overwhelming and consistent message that they will not be growing beet at this price.”

The NFU points out that, by 2009, and at current exchange rates, the EU minimum beet price will be just £17.50/t, which is uneconomic for most growers.

A letter has therefore been sent to growers this week, encouraging them to make their views known to British Sugar.

“If all growers firmly believe that the minimum beet price is not economic or sustainable, it is incumbent on us all to ensure that British Sugar receives this message clearly and consistently.”

On other areas of the contract – payment dates, seed supplies and contract flexibility – the NFU is optimistic progress can be made.

But it insists it will not recommend a contract to its members based on an uneconomic price.

These and other issues will be discussed at two NFU seminars at next week’s Cereals 2006 event.

“The future of beet growing in the UK” will take place on the NFU stand at 11.30am on Wednesday 14 June, and at 2.30pm on Thursday 15 June.