09 July 1999
London brewery lobbies for farmers

By FWi staff

FARMERS could benefit if ministers reduced the excise duty on a pint of beer, according to one of the brewing industrys leading figures.

John Young, chairman of London independent brewer Youngs, claims that excise duty in this country is so high it puts consumers off buying more British beer.

Britain brews only 19% of all the beer produced in Britain but pays 45% of the excise duty collected, he writes in Young & Co.s annual report for 1999.

“This is bad for British beer drinkers, bad for British pubs, bad for British brewers and bad for British farmers,” he says.

Consumers are instead going on “booze cruises” to France where they can buy imported European lagers at a fraction of the cost in Britain, says Mr Young.

Mr Young claims that foreign beer, mainly from France is “flooding across the Channel” at a rate of 1.5 million pints a day.

That means less British beer is being drunk with the result that brewers require less malting barley from British farmers, he adds.

“By using British barley and British hops, we have for hundreds of years supported British farmers, whom our government no longer supports or encourages,” he says.

Farmers are “being subsidised by Brussels bureaucrats and the monstrous Common Agricultural Policy to leave their fields overgrown with thistles and ragwort.”

Mr Young has written to Prime Minister Tony Blair; Chancellor Gordon Brown; and Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers, asking for excise duty to be reduced.

Conservative Party leader William Hague and the Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown have also received a copy of the letter and the annual report.