Sugar beet price talks ‘constructive’, NFU says

The NFU is continuing to hold talks with British Sugar over the 2014 sugar beet price, but there is still no sign of any agreement.

In a statement, NFU Sugar vice chairman Robert Law described the discussions as “frequent” and “constructive”, although he admitted that progress was “very slow”.

Mr Law added: “While it is not possible to report on the detail, the NFU remains committed to reaching a solution on behalf of growers.

“We thank you for your continued patience and support while the negotiation continues, and will continue to keep you informed of progress.”

The NFU has rejected a British Sugar offer of £30.67/t for the 2014 crop, which is £3/t over the agreed formula price of £27.67/t.

Mr Law said beet growers feel the price was not enough and failed to reflect the realties of growing the crop.

“Growers having just completed harvest are well aware of the affects of drilling wheat later after the effects of lifting sugar beet and the effects on their following wheat yields,” he said.

“The risks of growing sugar beet in comparison with other crops and long campaigns have meant we are seeking further rewards.”

Union members were due to hold meetings early this week to discuss the issue before meeting with British Sugar representatives later in the week.

Colm McKay, agriculture director at British Sugar, said: “Our discussions with the NFU are ongoing and we hope we will be able to reach a resolution. Our objective remains to pay a fair and competitive beet price to our growers without undermining our future competitiveness as an industry.”

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