1 March 2002

Beet compensation battle

BEET growers look set for an uphill struggle for further compensation following what the NFU describes as a campaign "beyond the pale".

At the start of the week, 1% of the crop was still unlifted and 4% in store. But growers seeking compensation beyond that already offered could face a stiff task, says British Sugar.

So far, earlier payments in December and doubled late delivery bonuses beyond Feb 20 – the original end-of-campaign date – have cost £400,000.

"We have already negotiated a compensation package with the NFU and we are working very closely with growers, contractors and hauliers to ensure all growers can deliver as much processable beet as possible," says a BSspokesman

NFU beet committee chairman Matt Twidale says pinpointing the precise factors behind any claims for compensation is the key. Growers need to remember that frost, though rare in recent seasons, is always a threat.

But many growers, including Norfolks Marie Skinner, who estimates her losses at £9000, believe it was largely BSs filtration problems which left them with more beet in the ground than usual when the frost hit.

"Everybody is now being expected to hand-pick before delivery which is an extra cost. Is this the way to run a modern industry?" adds Mr Twidale. &#42

SUGAR BEET WOES

* Pinpoint reasons for losses.

* Not all can be laid at BS door.

* £400k & eased cash flow so far.

* Further compensation battle?

&#8226 Pinpoint reasons for losses.

&#8226 Not all due to BS.

&#8226 Further compensation battle?