Arable Sugar beet growers offered virus

yellows compensation • Ground-breaking changes for crop • £12m funding pot over three years • ‘Greater transparency’ for growers

where they have virus yellows present in their crop.

S The virus yellows assurance

scheme is part of a ground-break- ing contract offer for 2021. It was announced last month following negotiations between beet pro- cessing giant British Sugar and NFU Sugar.

British Sugar has set aside

£12m to underwrite the virus yellows scheme over three years. Growers will start to be compen- sated if they deliver less than 90% of their contracted tonnage due to virus yellows – provided they plant a sufficient area and meet certain conditions. The processor says it will pay 45% of the value of the shortfall – with the compensation payment capped at a 35% yield loss. Grow- ers eligible for compensation will be automatically paid at the end of the 2021/22 campaign. Controlling the aphids which spread virus yellows has been an increasing challenge for growers since neonicotinoid pesticides were banned in 2018. In some cases, the virus can cause yield losses of up to 50% in sugar beet.

ugar beet growers will be compensated for a propor- tion of yield losses suffered

NFU Sugar board chair Mi-

chael Sly said: “This negotiation has taken place during some very challenging times for our indus- try, particularly with the ongo- ing virus yellows issue growers are facing.” He added: “NFU Sugar has worked constructively with Brit- ish Sugar to deliver a credible deal which includes a ground-break- ing virus yellows assurance fund, to help mitigate some of the grow- ers’ risk.”

Contract prices

A one-year contract offer for farm- ers to grow the crop in 2021 will pay growers £20.30 per adjusted tonne, with a market bonus trig- gered when the adjusted EU ref- erence price exceeds €375/t. The bonus would pay growers 10% of the value above this level.

We believe this deal supports a sustainable homegrown sugar sector

A three-year contract for 2021- 23 will pay £21.18 per adjusted tonne, with a market bonus trig-

The new scheme will be up and running for crops lifted from next autumn

gered when the adjusted EU ref- erence price exceeds €400/t. The bonus would pay growers 25% of the value above this level. In addition, NFU Sugar and British Sugar will pilot a fu- tures-linked variable priced con- tract. It will give growers access to the sugar futures market so they can decide when to fix their own pricefor a proportion of their contract.

Mr Sly said: “We have also been working hard over the past couple of years, to develop a new risk management tool for grow- ers. The innovative futures-based contract, announced as a pilot, means that growers can – for the first time – price their own sugar beet.” He added: “This deal builds on the work of previous years in pro-

viding greater transparency and lays stronger foundations for the future. In what will be a more vol- atile world, we believe this agree- ment helps support a sustaina- ble homegrown sugar industry in the UK.”

Support package

British Sugar agriculture direc- tor Peter Watson said the new contracts offered a competitive support package for all growers. It included a fair price for farmers, market-linked bonuses, flexibility and innovation. “Given the diffi- culties many growers have faced in recent months with aphids, we are particularly pleased to offer our new virus yellows assurance in the contracts, to help support growers through the challenges of the disease.”

Survey confirms big decline in winter crops

Provisional results from Defra’s June 2020 survey have confirmed a sharp drop in the area of winter crops planted. The amount of winter wheat was down by

almost a quarter (24%) in England compared to June 2019. Winter barley was down 35% and winter oilseed rape down 32%. AHDB analyst Helen Plant said the decline was unsurprising given the challenging autumn and spring.


Amid widespread expectations of a sub- 10m tonne wheat harvest, Ms Plant said: “While only relating to England, this pro- visional data from Defra increases the evi- dence that UK is in the process of harvest- ing its smallest wheat and oilseed crops in many years.”

Spring crops were the main beneficiary.

The spring barley area increased from 444,000 hectares in June 2019 to 795,000ha

this year. The area of oats also increased, al- though to a lesser extent, from 143,000ha to 170ha.

Ms Plant said: “High maize imports will

be a feature of the UK market this year, be- cause of the small wheat crop and compet- itive maize prices. There are also techni- cal and nutritional factors which limit the amount of barley and oats that can be in- cluded in compound animal feeds.”

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