10 October 2000
Sugar regime reforms ‘disastrous’

By FWi staff

PROPOSALS by Brussels to reform the sugar beet regime threaten production in the EU, claims the National Farmers Union.

A move to grant the worlds 48 least-developed countries tariff and quota-free access to the EU could result in the market being flooded, warns the union.

Between two and five million extra tonnes of sugar could be drawn on to a market of 12 million tonnes ,says the NFU.

It also voices concerns about a proposal on the renewal of the basic market regulation when the present regime runs out.

While accepting quota reduction is inevitable, it is unhappy that the EC is seeking to limit an extension of the regime to two years, and not six as originally proposed.

The EU contribution towards the cost of processors storing sugar over the marketing year could also be ended.

Chairman of the NFU Sugar Beet Committee, Matt Twidale, said: “The combined effect of these proposals could be devastating.”

While supporting initiatives to help poor countries, Mr Twidale said he feared opening up access would force severe quota cuts and a build up in intervention stocks.

This would deprive UK arable farmers of one of their viable break crops and hitting EU processing capacity and the jobs associated with it, he claimed.

Mr Twidale called for a proper analysis of the proposals before they progress further.

Reform proposals reducing the life of the regime from six years to two years would cause instability inhibiting investment warned NFU president Ben Gill said.

He said loss of storage would hit the UK, which depends on stocks, particularly hard.