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Sugar Beet

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 11 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will estimate (a) the average amount of compensation under the farm payments scheme which will be paid to farmers who cease growing sugar beet and (b) the number of farmers he expects to stop growing sugar beet in (i) 2007, (ii) 2008 and (iii) 2009. (89192)

The reform of the EU sugar regime is designed to favour efficiency and allow sugar growers and processors to take their own commercial decisions. The UK has one of the more efficient sugar industries in the EU. The Government, therefore, expect some redistribution of sugar production within the UK over the next three years, but little net change.

On 22 September, my noble Friend the Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food announced the detail of how almost £500 million of additional support arising from the sugar reform will be incorporated within the English model of the single payment scheme (SPS) over the next seven years. In particular, he confirmed that special arrangements will apply so that, among other things, all the support available in 2006 will be added to the value of entitlements held by UK growers on the basis of their contracted tonnage for quota sugar, for the 2005-06 marketing year. Individual business decisions will determine whether those concerned retain their entitlements or grow sugar beet in subsequent years. It is not, therefore, possible to make meaningful estimates of the sort the hon. Member asks about.