4 June 1999

Beet haulage deals set to stay in place if new offer agreed

By Mike Williams

SUGAR beet growers will be able to retain existing arrangements for transporting their crop to factories if the NFU and British Sugar agree on the latest compromise offer.

Beet haulage has been one of the key elements in the contract negotiations between British Sugar and the NFU which started two years ago. British Sugar initially proposed that it should take over the arrangements for haulage and share the savings with growers, but this proposal was resisted by the NFU on behalf of growers, many of whom run their own vehicles.

The latest position was summed up by a British Sugar spokesman who told farmers weekly: "We still believe our original proposal makes sense. However, if we are able to negotiate a satisfactory deal on a new contract we would be prepared to leave the existing transport arrangements in place."

Under the current transport scheme growers make their own haulage arrangements, but the cost is borne by British Sugar in the form of a transport allowance. The allowance costs British Sugar £23m a year.

Arrangements for haulage is one of a number of matters involved in the discussions between British Sugar and the NFU. But full details of the negotiations remain confidential until the new contract is signed.