NFU calls for hike in 2010 beet price

The NFU has opened the 2010 sugar beet price negotiations with British Sugar by calling for a price of £34.50/t next year.

That represents an increase of over 30% on this year’s £26/t; money that is needed to improve grower attitudes towards the crop and encourage investment, NFU sugar chairman William Martin said. “The best way to signal positive change and to get growers thinking long term about beet is by paying the right price.”

But British Sugar’s Karl Carter, who leads the negotiations on behalf of BS, immediately slammed the NFU’s claim as “completely unrealistic”.

“We are at a loss to understand how NFU Sugar has reached a beet price of £34.50/t plus transport allowance as part of our ongoing negotiations with them.

“Sugar beet remains profitable in comparison to alternative crops such as wheat and oilseed rape. Indeed, the price of winter feed wheat and oilseed rape would have to double to maintain the current profitability differential.”

Discussions between the NFU and British Sugar will continue, and as part of that process the NFU has also called for proper compensation for the risks and losses associated with longer campaigns. It also says there should be a simplification of the beet contract.

What do you think about the proposals? Is the NFU being unrealistic in asking for such a big price increase, or should British Sugar pay up? Tell us in the FWi Forum.