Fenland MP Steve Barclay has called for government action to protect the rights of sugar beet growers to negotiate a fair deal on sugar pricing with British Sugar, the UK’s largest sugar producer.
Mr Barclay has asked Owen Paterson the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to support farmers by safeguarding an exemption in EU competition rules which currently allows for joint talks with British sugar.
Sugar beet farmers stand to lose out if EU rules force them into striking individual deals with the dominant sugar buyer.
Mr Barclay’s North East Cambridgeshire Constituency has the highest concentration of sugar beet growers in the country. The MP has written to the minister and submitted a series of parliamentary questions aimed at heading off the re-introduction of the EU directives.
Mr Barclay said: “The incoming change to EU rules requires swift action from government to protect the interests of sugar beet growers in Cambridgeshire and the rest of the country.
“The National Farmers Union currently does a fantastic job of leading negotiation for sugar beet growers, which ensures fair pricing and lends a collective voice to individual suppliers who might otherwise find themselves isolated.
“With the highest concentration of growers in the UK, the industry is vital for local business and economic growth, so it’s essential that we ensure growers are able to work together and get a fair deal. ”
Mr Barclay met with William Martin, the NFU Sugar board chairman in parliament to discuss the potential effects of rule changes on EU farmers.
In 2012 Steve hosted the annual Young Sugar Beet Growers summit in Westminster, which offered young farmers the chance to learn more about the industry and improve co-operation with Brussels and the NFU.
Over 3,500 sugar beet farmers across the UK currently participate in the collective negotiation process.