Sugar beet growers urged to speak out about prices

Frustrated sugar beet growers must speak out against British Sugar’s refusal to raise prices for next season’s crop, the NFU told farmers at Cereals 2006.

Sugar board chairman John Hoyles called on growers to “send a clear message” to British Sugar that they would not produce the crop at a loss.

EU minimum prices offered by the processor could see farmers receive just £17.50/t by 2009.

“I want British Sugar to realise they are crippling a lot of growers by failing to support the base price.”

British Sugar’s transport allowance was unrealistic and left growers forced to shoulder a £1/t shortfall to get the crop to the factories, he added.

Many farmers at the NFU’s seminar expressed frustration and some questioned the union’s ability to secure a better deal on their behalf.

One grower suggested farmers sign their contracts, but only for half the tonnage, forcing the processor to come back to the negotiating table.

But Mr Hoyles cautioned against any protest which could breach farmers’ contracts and pledged he would do everything possible for farmers in discussions with the processor.

British Sugar’s head of agriculture Col McCay told Farmers Weekly he expected some growers to leave sugar production at these prices.

“We have talked with the NFU about how we can form an outgoers’ scheme.

“But we believe there will still be sufficient growers who will want to take on the extra tonnage that’s released.

“And there is no doubt annual yields are increasing at about 2% a year – that’s not seen in any other crop.”


Futures contracts: farmer views wanted

Do you use futures and options markets to help you manage risk? Or are you interested to learn more? Farmers Weekly is keen to find out the extent to which UK farmers use these markets. Complete our survey here.

Take the survey

Futures markets and commodity risk management online course:

  • Risk management strategies for a more predictable financial performance
  • Educated conversations when collaborating with your advisors
  • Negotiate better prices with your grain merchants

View course

Using contractors saves you time and money. Now you can book, track and pay all in one place. Register for early access today.

Find out more
See more