Farm Ireland

Monday 22 January 2018

Sugar advocates will not be put off by Euro bosses

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Sugarbeet campaigners have vowed not to be deterred by a European Parliament recommendation that the current sugar beet regime be retained until at least 2020.

The European Parliament resolution on the CAP towards 2020, adopted last week, stated that the parliament advocates that the 2006 sugar market regime be extended at least to 2020 in its existing form.

It also called for suitable measures to safeguard sugar production in Europe and to allow the EU sugar sector to improve its competitiveness within a stable framework.

UCD professor Jimmy Burke said the parliament's proposal was only at discussion stage.

He conceded that if the European Commission decided to follow the Parliament's lead and maintain the status quo, it would make things more difficult for Ireland to return to sugar beet production.

"Individual member states will have a say in the Commission's decision and cognisance will have to be taken of each member state's position," Professor Burke said.

Michael Hoey, of Beet Ireland, said that in light of the huge scarcity of sugar in both Europe and the world, the amount of sugar beet that Ireland wanted to produce was small but Ireland would have to fight for its corner of the industry.

"We're talking a few hundred thousand tonnes out of 8m tonnes," Mr Hoey said.

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He warned that there was a real possibility that Ireland could run out of sugar by the end of this year, while sugar beet crops in Britain and France had been damaged by drought.

Two feasibility studies, one commissioned in conjunction with the Carlow Enterprise Board and the other commissioned by Beet Ireland, are expected to conclude in the coming days.

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