INEFFICIENT SUGAR beet producers will not be able to grow their crops profitably post-reform if the European Commission‘s current proposals to cut prices and quotas are adopted.

That‘s the conclusion of the latest figures from farming consultants Bidwells who predict losses of as much as £65 for each hectare of beet grown on all but the most efficient farms.

Interviewed in Crops (October 16), the firm‘s Carl Atkin acknowledged the proposed price and quota cuts will make it hard for inefficient producers.

“If you‘re a top-performing grower, you should be able to realise a margin of 10%,” he said. “The reform … certainly reduces the benefit of growing beet over other break crops.”

But UK growers will be well placed in an EU beet context post-reform, and efficient producers will be able to compete, British Sugar‘s Chris Carter added.

“We‘ll still be in a strong position. Countries in the south, east, and extreme north of Europe are likely to be the losers.”

More is needed to improve technical efficiency, Mr Carter acknowledged, but he said the UK had come a long way.

“Our productivity improvement has been the fastest in Europe for the past 15 years, and that will continue.”

The proposals for reform, which are currently under discussion, include a 33% cut in beet price over three years, and quota cuts of 17%.

Both would be compensated by decoupled support via the new single farm payment.

A deal could be struck by 1 July next year, a year before the current regime expires, although many commentators believe this to be unlikely.

To read the full article, see Crops October 16.