HC Deb 05 December 1974 vol 882 cc560-1W
Mr. Pym

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in order to ensure the maximum up-take of the sugar beet acreage next year, he will consider announcing the 1975–76 sugar beet contract price early to ensure the maximum up-take of this contract.

Mr. Peart

The price which beet growers will receive for the 1975 crop will compromise the minimum price fixed by the EEC plus various allowances covering transport costs, the value of the pulp, and so on. The method of calculating these allowances has been negotiated between the British Sugar Corporation and the National Farmers' Union, and is set out in the contract forms which the corporation has sent to growers. As my hon. Friend said in answer to a Question this afternoon, we expect that next week's meeting of the EEC Council of Agriculture Ministers will approve a proposal to increase the United Kingdom minimum beet price from £863 per long ton—basis 16 per cent, sugar content—to £10.68 per long ton with effect from 1st January 1975. This price is 64p per ton higher than that applicable in most other member States of the Community. In addition, the EEC Commission has proposed that the latter price should be raised by 16 per cent, in two stages, the first on 1st February 1975 and the second on 1st July 1975. This proposal, if adopted, would result in a United Kingdom minimum beet price for the 1975 crop of £12.28 per long ton, over 40 per cent, higher than its present level and 60 per cent, higher than the minimum price applicable for the 1973 crop. To the minimum price must be added the value of the allowances for pulp and transport. These cannot be precisely known in advance. For the 1974 crop, however, they are estimated at £2.40 and £1 per ton respectively. I consider that prices of this order should certainly encourage the expansion in beet acreage which we need.