By FWi staff

SUGAR-BEET quota trading under British Sugars Rhizomania Stewardship Scheme will not realise a true open and transparent market value, claims quota agent Ian Potter.

“The scheme will not clear the market and is a poor deal for rhizomania-hit farmers,” he added.

Mr Potter believes the scheme will automatically determine a fixed price for quota according to the bids and offers received for it. And if a farmer offers his quota at more than the determined price, he will receive notification that he has not been successful.

“Any farmer wishing to acquire it, and who tendered too low a price, will also be unsuccessful,” said Mr Potter.

A further downside of the scheme will be that farmers may not know their position until 3 September – the date on which British Sugar will notify the outcome of all bids under its tender system.

Further private dealing among unsuccessful parties can then take place until 29 October.

Another problem for those wishing to increase their tonnage is that they are prevented from making more than one bid for different amounts of quota.

“There is an obligation on farmers who have rhizomania to act responsibly to prevent its spread.

“In return, British Sugar also has a responsibility to those growers who have it to set up a quota trading system and payment terms that enable farmers to realise the true value of their quota, and be paid properly for it, ” said Mr Potter.

“Unfortunately, the current British Sugar system is a pretty poor deal for those farmers.”

Mr Potter has drawn up his own arrangement where lessees will pay when the contracts are signed.

Lessors will be paid when British Sugar confirm that the lessees tonnage has increased for the relevant contract year.

But Robin Limb of British Sugar is concerned that contracts assigned through agents could actually result in growers paying more rather than less:

“The scheme we have developed with the NFU is freely accessible to all 8500 beet growers and involves no commission charges.

“We believe the tender process will achieve a fair deal for those with rhizomania on their farms, although clearly there is the option to use commissioned agents should growers feel their services can add value,” he said