You are viewing the content for Friday 3 February 2006

Raise beet prices if you want a crop, farmers warn

By Ray Ryan, Agribusiness Correspondent
GREENCORE has not moved beyond the price it offered last December for the 2006 beet crop, the Irish Farmers Association claimed yesterday after a meeting with the company’s senior management in Dublin.

IFA Beet Committee chairman Peadar Jordan said Greencore will have to come forward with a better price package, including transport, to guarantee delivery of a beet crop for processing in 2006.

A further meeting between the IFA and Greencore is due to be held next week as decision time approaches on whether beet will be grown in Ireland this year.

Prior to yesterday’s meeting with Greencore, an IFA delegation led by president Padraig Walshe, presented Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan with the report produced by Deloitte financial advisers detailing beet growers’ losses arising from the European Union sugar reform.

The IFA-commissioned report calculated that the country’s 3,700 beet growers will lose €150 million as a result of the reforms.

In a statement, the IFA said Mr Walshe outlined to the minister the devastation that had been caused by the closure of the Carlow sugar factory and the EU reforms.

Mr Walshe called on her to end the uncertainty of farm families by announcing full compensation for growers immediately.

Ms Coughlan, according to the IFA statement, said that she was determined that the Irish sugar industry would not have to pay a €25m restructuring levy if a crop was grown in 2006, and she hoped to have clearance on this at the Council of Ministers meeting on February 20 and 21.

The IFA also said the minister had assured its sugar beet committee chairman Peadar Jordan that there would be no compulsory growing of sugar beet in 2006 in order to qualify for the restructuring fund.

"The minister accepted the IFA proposal to use the average contract beet tonnage of 2001, 2002 and 2004 to qualify for the decoupled single farm payment," the statement added.