11 January 2000
Ex-NIAB chief for new beet body

By FWi staff

THE former chief of a leading variety research centre has been selected to head a new, streamlined sugar beet industry-funded body.

John MacLeod, former director of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), will chair the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) from 1 April.

The appointment of Mr MacLeod, who was also a member of the governments Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE), was welcomed by NFU sugar beet committee chairman Matt Twidale.

“Im delighted that someone who has so much experience in research and is so highly respected in agriculture will be chairing BBRO.”

BBRO replaces the Sugar Beet Research and Education Fund (SBREF) which was responsible for allocating levy cash from growers and British Sugar to research projects.

Acting SBREF chairman and Lincolnshire farmer David Carmichael said: “Weve been working on this for the last year and Im pleased that weve made a high-level appointment.

“This will provide a secure future for the UK sugar beet industry.”

SBREF was disbanded after MAFF decided to withdraw from administering the fund.

Ministry suggestions for a development council as a replacement were rejected by growers and processors.

British Sugar and the NFU favoured a slimmer, more industry-focused organisation with fewer overheads, and set up BBRO in an attempt to meet this.

BBRO will be charged with commissioning research and technology transfer to increase competitiveness and profitably in the British sugar beet industry.

The committee will comprise independent chairman Mr MacLeod with two representatives each from British Sugar and the NFU.

A levy on growers matched by British Sugar will replace the governments statutory levy.

The total budget for its first year will be around 2.2 million, which is close to the sum directed by SBREF in its final year.

The 1999 SBREF levy on growers was 12p/adjusted tonne of beet.

BBRO will base its administrative centre at the Processors and Growers Research Organisation headquarters at Thornhaugh, Cambridgeshire.

Mr Twidale said: “The new set-up has fewer people, and the people who are on the committee are the people who will benefit from its work.

“BBRO will be streamlined, closer to the industry and will be able to deliver quicker responses.”

Dr Carmichael added: “Weve taken a significant step forward with the appointment of a chairman, locating an administrative centre, and have secured funding for the foreseeable future.”