BS tarehouse practice needs looking at
CONCERNS over British Sugars tarehouse practice, which governs how much it pays growers for beet, need addressing now, says the NFU. It is pushing for change, and hopes British Sugar will soon table its proposals for a future meeting.
Growers are losing out, says Susan Haseldine, NFU sugar beet adviser. "It is curious that in every other part of a sugar beet factory, there has been a reduction in employees. In the tarehouse the reverse is true, because it pays."
Crown tares rank highly among grower concerns (Talking Point, Jan 10). Other issues also need to be discussed.
"Growers should receive money for the crown portion of the beet. At the moment, BS processes it without paying for it," says Ms Haseldine. Beet payments should also be linked to quality, so those growing purer beet are rewarded, she believes.
Sampling also needs to improve – roots are broken during the process, so valuable sugar is lost in washings, before the beet is tested. "What is sampled and analysed should reflect what is delivered. Infra-red and other imaging technology exists to do just that, and will save costs on both sides."
The union would also like to see a claims body established to represent grower interests on other smaller areas of dispute, she adds.
Two years after talks to address problems in the Interprofessional Agreement were due to start, little progress has been made – mainly on the voluntary outgoers scheme.
Further negotiations are needed soon. "It took over a year to resolve the issue over sawing machines used in the tarehouses for sugar content analysis. But as a result, growers received an extra £1.3m over two years."
A preliminary meeting to discuss the points the NFU wants to raise was held in December after it had approached BS last summer to reopen negotiations. The NFU hopes to hear at the end of this month what BS wishes to include.
"That sort of timescale is about right," confirms Chris Carter, BS agricultural director. But he was unable to indicate what the company intended to discuss. *
Non-payment for sugar extracted from beet crowns is just one of the crop quality issues the NFU wants to raise with British Sugar.
• Tarehouse practice main worry.
• NFU pushing for discussion.
• Crown tares, quality payments and sampling need addressing.