16 June 1995

Talks cease as BS calls for outgoers scheme

BRITISH Sugar has pulled out of year-long discussions with the NFU aimed at updating the sugar beet contract.

Instead, it wishes to focus on setting up an industry outgoers scheme to move quota from the least efficient to the most efficient producers. This was just one small part of the industrys original proposals.

But the NFU argues there are other parts of the contract (last reviewed in 1983) which need updating. "For example, beet varieties have improved over the years and this is not fully relected in the payment scales," said sugar beet advisor, Susan Haseldine. Contractual change is essential to put growers and the industry in a position to meet future pressures on profit.

An outgoers scheme is still an essential element of any review and a trial could be in place by 1997.

The scheme would create "some movement" of tonnage and make provision for some new entrants, Clive Francis, deputy managing director of BSs Sugar For Industry division told a grower meeting in Ipswich last week.

Voluntary scheme

It would be voluntary, with quota recipients funding payments to outgoers. Most growers would be eligible for additional tonnage, with BS choosing the most efficient, he said. The rate of compensation would be subject to industry consultation.

Current contractual arrangements inhibit change, with no prospect of efficient producers getting extra tonnage.

The main concern from growers at the meeting was how BS would determine "efficiency". While BS may want high yields of quality sugar, that may not be what makes the most profit on the farm.

But Mr Francis countered that he would be looking at a number of efficiency parameters and would consult industry.