Sugar beet growers have until the autumn to claim back cash from the EU for the overpayment of levies.

The European Court ruled in the spring that farmers growing beet under contract in the years 2001-2002 to 2005-2006 paid too much to the European Commission.

British Sugar wrote to 6,500 growers in the summer saying they could claim a share of the £2.9m pot, depending on their production in those years.

About 1,600 growers are still to come forward for the remaining £850,000 and it is likely the European Union will impose a September deadline on payouts.

See also: Growers in line for sugar beet levy refund

NFU chief sugar adviser Ruth Digby said those who think they might be owed should contact the British Sugar agricultural helpdesk on 0870 240 2314.

“It is quite a lot of money, for some people a couple of hundred quid,” she said. “It is not a new combine but it might be a nice little bonus.”

“It is not a new combine but it might be a nice little bonus.”
Ruth Digby, NFU chief sugar adviser

“They need to give the helpdesk the details when they were growing. If there have been changes in the business title or owner or name, they will go through a process of verification.

“It should not be too much work for the growers.”

British Sugar have been most successful in contacting farmers still growing beet, but contacting former growers was proving more difficult.

Ms Digby said the NFU was advertising beyond the current beet-growing sector to raise awareness.

“Letters have been sent out twice to the last-known addresses. Obviously that has not been successful in all cases,” she said.

“We have run articles not just in trade magazines, but also in local newspapers and other publications. We are trying to cover as many bases as we can.”