25 September 1998

Sugar beet prices bow to pressure from the strong £

By Robert Harris

SUGAR beet growers will receive an interim A/B price of £29.41 an adjusted tonne this season.

That is 76p lower than last years figure, and comes despite lengthy lobbying by the NFU to maintain the price.

The reason, says British Sugar, is the strength of the £ which has reduced sugar and support prices, and the NFU had to agree.

"We fought hard to keep prices level. But there was no getting away from the strength of the £," says Matt Twidale, chairman of the NFUs sugar beet committee.

However, growers will receive some top up payment on last years tonnage, despite an additional levy of 20p/t from Brussels to cover the additional cost of exporting into a depressed world market, and further declines in the animal feed market.

That is because some of the agrimoney allowance retained by BS in April will be added back, so growers can expect a net payment of about 45p per adjusted tonne. This will be paid in November, bringing the final A/B price for 1997/98 to about £32.50/t.

However, last seasons C beet price will be the lowest for several years. BS estimates a final payment of £4.80 per adjusted delivered tonne, bringing the overall delivered price to £14.49/t, about £3 less than last season.

&#8226 BS has also announced a reduction in the transport allowance. Payments for the average journey of 26 miles are now £3.30 a clean tonne, 17p/t less than last season. &#42