BEET GROWERS still have time to put pressure on the government and EU by pointing out the white paper proposals for reforming the industry will, if implemented fully, effectively destroy it.

“Time is rapidly running out, but it is not yet too late to make a real difference,” British Sugar”s Mark Culloden told a BBRO-organised meeting in Newmarket last week.

“Growers who have not already written to their MP and MEP can explain how the proposed 37% price cut for beet and the substantial quota reduction will affect their own farms, the local economy and UK agriculture. Realistic pricing is vital – 18/t for beet would put most UK growers out of business and kill the sugar industry across Europe.

” Growers must lobby the government, pointing out that the UK was unique in Europe. Unlike other countries, it did not produce quota surplus. Half the UK”s national sugar needs were imported from beyond the EU.

Time was running out for growers to influence the outcome, agreed Cambs grower William Martin, a member of the NFU”s National Sugar Board and chairman of the Beet Reception Committee.

“Over the next two to three months the EU will be pulling the various proposals together and the next four to six weeks will be vital, as the Commission will then switch from listening to writing mode and once on paper it will be difficult to change the details.

” Mr Martin, who grows 60ha of beet on his 400ha farm at Littleport, urged growers to lobby right up to the wire, particularly targeting MEPs as they were now in a position to influence the Commission more strongly than ever before.

“If the whole thing goes pear-shaped, I would like to feel confident that I and the rest of the UK”s 7000 growers had done everything possible to make our strong case for the preservation of our industry heard,” he said.