Proposals to limit the volume of crop-based biofuels in the UK to one of the lowest levels in Europe could leave arable farmers at a major competitive disadvantage, the NFU has warned.
The Department for Transport has proposed the crop cap be set at 4 per cent in 2018, decreasing incrementally until it reaches 2 per cent by 2032.
The NFU has called for the cap, which governs the volume of crop-based biofuels allowed to be used on UK roads, to be set at the maximum possible level of 7 per cent.
Many other EU member states have opted for 7 per cent - as per set out in the EU directive.
The biofuels market is an important source of high protein feed, producing nearly 1 million tonnes, and provides British farmers an important outlet for their crops and provides security for many producers.
NFU combinable crops board chairman Mike Hambly said: “The security of the biofuels market gives farmers the confidence to make investments and manage volatility, which ultimately benefits farming’s productivity and the nation’s food security.
“As Brexit brings times of uncertainty, it is vital for the industry that farmers have access to as many markets as possible.
“An industry that produces enough high protein animal feed for circa 40 per cent of the UK dairy industry, displacing imported feed, is one that should be strengthened and supported by the Government, not constrained.”
A low crop cap would severely impact the UK’s production of bioethanol – the two plants in the UK can process 2.2 million tonnes of wheat.
Richard Royal, head of government affairs at one of the plants, Vivergo Fuels, said: “Many EU countries have already introduced E10 and provided the highest possible crop cap to enable its successful introduction and provide its farmers with flexibility.
"By contrast, the UK is proposing to limit options for its farmers at precisely the point when it needs to widen them due to Brexit, the potential removal of subsidies and uncertainties around trade barriers."