The British sugar industry is in a strong position but it needs reassurances from the Brexit process, farmers from Stoke Ferry Agricultural Society were told this week.
Members who met at Timbers Country Lodge in Fincham on Tuesday for their annual sugar beet competition were addressed by Colm McKay, agricultural director of British Sugar.
In his talk, Sugar Beet, Business after Brexit, he said the importance of the British sugar beet needs to be emphasised to politicians and the public as there are 3,500 farmers growing 100,000 hectares worth £700 million to the British economy. Around 9,500 jobs are supported.
British Sugar also produce 500,000 tonnes of animal feed, reconditions 250,000 tonnes of soil, produce products for the pharmaceutical industry, produce bio-ethanol fuel and, at Wissington, even have 18 hectares of glass which utilised waste heat and CO2 from the production process.
The British sugar beet industry is one of the most efficient sugar industries in the world, he said.
With the lifting of quota restrictions this October and its efficiency as an industry, there is every opportunity for British Sugar to increase its market share around the world.
The British Sugar industry has simple policy asks after Brexit where it would like negotiations to result in a level playing field. These include no return to the 1970s quotas within the UK market which will penalise consumers; the reciprocity of tariffs and standards with the EU 27; and no unilateral reduction of EU sugar tariffs given the significant state subsidies granted to the industry in some countries around the world.
In the society’s sugar beet competition, sponsored by XL Scales of Downham, Jon Lowe, manager for the Wales Family Partnership, Eastgate Farm, Marham, grew the winning beet (Flixter) weighing 8.704kg. Colm McKay, presented him with the Arthur Gilmour Sugar Beet Trophy. Second was Roger Eyles, from Northwold, with a beet (BTS 860) weighing in at 7.414kg. Third wasPaul Wortley, the society chairman, from Methwold, with a beet (Aurora) weighing 6.863kg.
The society’s quiz night is on Tuesday, December 5, at Ryston Park Golf Club at 7.30pm.