Compensation to sugar-beet growers for EU price cuts will not be based on their 2007/08 marketing supply contracts, DEFRA has confirmed. This means growers can continue to trade contract entitlements without fear of jeopardising future payments.

“This is a piece of the jigsaw that growers were waiting for, given the opening of the trading window,” said NFU chief sugar adviser Helen Kirkman. “They need to be sure of the impacts of selling their tonnage.”

Details of exactly what years would be chosen as a basis for contracts or whether sugar compensation would be targeted at beet growers or be progressively integrated into the general single farm payment pot is still unclear.

The announcement will not affect this year’s payments. In June, DEFRA secretary David Miliband confirmed that the £52m available for 2006 would go exclusively to beet growers.

Meanwhile, trade in contract tonnage entitlement continues to be brisk. At the end of last week British Sugar reported that 700,000t of York and Allscott tonnage had been sold to eastern counties growers for between £2/t and £2.50/t.

British Sugar is also keen to warn York and Allscott growers that the industry restructuring scheme closes in just two week’s time, on Friday, 6 October.

After that, they will no longer qualify for the £7/t or £7.50/t payment for selling their quota, or the £8/t for surrendering it to British Sugar, but will instead be offered contracts to supply Wissington and Bury St Edmunds factories respectively.