Factory problems cost beet growers

6 December 2001

Factory problems cost beet growers

By Tom Allen-Stevens

FRUSTRATED beet growers are having to watch their crops lose value on-farm due to technical problems at British Sugars flagship factory.

British Sugar says it is working round the clock trying to solve filtration problems at its plant at Wissington, Suffolk, which have hit operations.

But this is scant consolation to producers like John Stevenson, who grows 32ha (80 acres) of sugar beet at Thorney, Cambridgeshire.

Thirty-five acres are left in the ground, and some of the harvested beet has been sitting in the clamp for a month waiting to be taken to Wissington.

“With this warm weather, its going to start to deteriorate, and Im losing money by not getting the beet harvested and getting the wheat crop drilled.

“Im just not getting any cashflow at the moment, but my real worry looking forward is the weather,” added Mr Stevenson.

“We could start getting sharp frosts any day, and then well have big problems.”

Mr Stevenson says British Sugar has had persistent filtration problems at Wissington and was warned by the National Farmers Union to sort them out.

These woes come on top of the factory closure policy at British Sugar, which producers say is making life difficult for them.

A longer sugar campaign means that beet sits on the farm for longer.

Regional National Farmers Union representative Stewart Bish said: “People are beginning to tear their hair out as its beginning to impact on cashflows.”

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