British Sugar’s ‘target’ price of £ 25 / t for 2022 beet does not go far enough to stem a continued flow of producers out of the sector, farm executives have warned.
NFU Sugar President Michael Sly said: “Following the disastrous harvest of many growers in 2020, we have gone beyond simply offering a price to get people to put [sugar beet] in the rotation.
“Now there has to be something to encourage people to stay in the industry… but at this level [£25/t], it doesn’t work for the majority of the producer base.
Mr. Sly told the Farmers Weekly Podcast that the NFU made its initial offer of £ 27.75 / t in March, and that it took until the end of June for British Sugar to respond.
Failure to agree on a price by the end of August would see negotiations take it to the next level and could even be referred to Defra for decision.
Mr Sly also accused British Sugar of “jumping the gun” by going public in a mid-term price negotiation.
But British Sugar chief executive Paul Kenwood said it was clearly only a target price, to let producers know that £ 25 / t is the minimum they will be paid in 2022.
“In the last three years we were only able to get a price in September, so producers have told us several times that they would really like us to give them a target price at Cereals, which we always do. , ” he said.
“We are very clear that this is not the price we negotiated with the NFU. We are negotiating in good faith and we cannot publish a price that is a contract offer until we have obtained this agreement.
“We understand that farmers have had a very difficult year in 2020, but we can see better harvests this year, and we think that is an optimistic sign,” he added.
“We hope we can set a price that will convince existing and new growers to continue with this crop. “
Cambridgeshire producer Guy Wakeham said the price hike was a “step in the right direction” but also accused British Sugar of “breaking ranks” by making the mid-term negotiation public.
He conceded that £ 25 / t ‘would certainly help mitigate some of the losses and risks associated with beet growing’, but might not be enough to provide British Sugar with the beet it needs.