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EU Sugar Regime

Volume 456: debated on Thursday 1 February 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what factors were taken into consideration when appointing the agency to pay sugar beet compensation following reform of the EU sugar regime; whether British Sugar was considered as a candidate; whether consideration was given to making a request to the European Commission that British Sugar become a registered European payment agency for this purpose; and whether he made an estimate of the effect on costs of administration of appointing British Sugar to make sugar beet compensation payments to farmers. (111621)

All elements of the additional income support made available to farmers must be incorporated into the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and, specifically, the model of the scheme that member states have already adopted. This falls under the terms of the November 2005 agreement on reform of the EU sugar regime.

In England, the SPS is administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), which is the accredited Paying Agency which makes Common Agricultural Policy payments to English farmers. Given the impracticality of two paying agencies administering different, but closely inter-related, aspects of the same scheme for the same farmers, the RPA was the natural choice to administer the additional income support.

Even if this had not been the case, it is highly unlikely that British Sugar would have been considered as a candidate. The EU has regulatory requirements that member states must restrict paying agency numbers to the minimum necessary and that such agencies must be public rather than private bodies.