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Growers facing uncertainty as dispute causes sugar beet contract delays

Growers were facing uncertainty when making cropping decisions as a dispute between NFU Sugar and British Sugar delayed the announcement of contract prices and terms.

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Dispute causes sugar beet contract delays

Prices were usually announced in the summer, giving growers time to make cropping decisions, but now may not be known until this autumn, leaving growers having to make decisions without knowing how much crop will be worth.

 

British Sugar said the offer it had made was ‘more attractive than this year’ one-year contract’.

But the dispute centred around agreeing a three-year contract.

 

In a letter to growers seen by Farmers Guardian, NFU Sugar said British Sugar had said it was not prepared to agree a one-year contract without agreeing a three-year contract.


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The union said it was open to discussing a three-year contract but had ‘repeatedly’ tried to impress upon British Sugar the importance of remunerating growers for increased risks and costs, particularly on the back of the loss of neonicotinoid seed treatments.

 

In the letter, NFU Sugar board chairman Michael Sly said British Sugar had not offered terms which ‘adequately’ rewarded growers for committing to growing sugar beet in multiple years.

 

He added they would be doing everything possible to bring the negotiation to a successful conclusion.

“As things stand we do not believe this will happen before the autumn at the earliest. I would therefore encourage growers to consider their options,” added Mr Sly.

 

Deal

 

Colm McKay, agriculture director, British Sugar said its priority was to negotiate to deliver the fairest deal possible for growers and the processor.

 

“The offer we have made is more attractive than this year’s one-year contract,” he said.

 

“Following positive feedback and in response to requests from growers, we have also proposed a three-year deal which is as attractive as the previous 2017 deal.”

 

He added they could not release details whilst in negotiations.

 

Mr McKay said British Sugar was disappointed it had not yet managed to reach agreement and would work hard to reach one as soon as possible.

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