Levy refund secured for sugar beet growers

British sugar beet growers are set to receive a share of £6m after a court ruled that Brussels overcharged farmers when calculating the now discontinued levy.

The European Union Court of Justice ruled that the EU Commission used a “flawed method” for calculating the levy – leaving thousands of growers out of pocket.

Growers of sugar beet during 1999 and 2000 are entitled to a repayment of both the overpayment and the interest accrued.

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The refund – more than £6m in total – will be divided roughly equally between growers and British Sugar, which is sending a form to farmers to fill out to receive their repayment.

Sugar processors in the EU challenged the historic overcalculation and succeeded in getting it revised after taking it through the European courts.

Repayment details

British Sugar will make the repayments to growers, while the Rural Payments Agency will be responsible for making the repayment to British Sugar.

British Sugar managing director Paul Kenward said: “I am pleased we are able to confirm to growers, that after a considerable period of time, we can refund the right money to the right growers.

“We’ve written to all growers asking them to complete a simple form so we can submit the claims to the RPA, and we’d urge growers to return this to British Sugar as soon as possible.”

NFU Sugar board chairman Michael Sly said: “NFU Sugar is working closely with British Sugar to help ensure the circa 8,750 growers of sugar beet at the time get a refund.

Costs covered

“British Sugar asked that the costs of administering this refund to growers is covered by the grower base and I am pleased to confirm that NFU Sugar will cover these costs on behalf of growers.

“We urge all growers to look out for correspondence from NFU Sugar and British Sugar, and return the form they receive in order to apply for their refund.

“Growers can contact the dedicated helpline if they do not receive one or are in any doubt. The clock is ticking and we don’t want any grower to miss out.”

British Sugar and NFU Sugar are working closely with the RPA and hope to receive the payment by the end of September. The repayment to growers will then come from British Sugar.

Any grower who believes they are entitled to a refund and does not receive a letter is urged to contact the British Sugar helpline on 01733 422 153 to apply for the repayment.