Posted in Kafevend Blog

Can anyone remember me talking about the problems British farmers had faced with sugar beet crops a couple of months ago? I can't say I blame you if you don't. It's not exactly riveting stuff, but looking at recent developments it is starting to get a tad more interesting. For me at least, your mileage may vary.

The National Farmers' Union has said that sugar beet growers must be allowed to review their seed orders once scientists have discovered the cause of the devastation wrought to crops recently. More interestingly is the possibility that a large proportion of these farmers may not bother planting more beet crops, due to a conflict with the prices offered by British Sugar, the sole sugar beet producer in Britain.

There has been a long standing agreement between BS and the NFU that prices for sugar beet would be established by negotiation between the two. After the NFU rejected the price offered by BS for the crop for the latest contracts, BS began contacting individual farmers in an attempt to get them to sign up to the deal. The NFU, understandably, became rather incensed that BS had gone behind their back in this manner.

To cut a long story short, farmers representing over two thirds of the total beet tonnage produced have backed an NFU drive to obtain a price of £35.50 per tonne, or not plant the crop next year. Whilst this does appear rash, the problem is that farmers will fail to make a profit on the crop due to the cost of production, and from the associated risks growing it that have become apparent with the recent crop failures. So far the price stands at £30.67/t after an increase of £3/t to the original offer. This may be set to increase further in more planned talks between the groups.

I'll be sure to keep you up to date with any developments. If you're interested.

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