Gleanings - AF Weekly news summary
8th November 2023

More sugar beet shenanigans 

Last week British Sugar went outside of the negotiation process with the NFU, and contacted growers directly with their £38/tonne offer for the 2024/25 season. This has led to an understandable outcry amongst growers, and a swiftly convened zoom meeting for all growers last Friday 3rd November. 

 British Sugar are quoted as saying “Following significant pressure from growers, we have decided to offer you the choice to contract with us now and lock in your seed for next year, whilst we continue the negotiation and dispute resolution process with NFU Sugar” . 

This 5% reduction from the 2023/24 price of £40/tonne comes after the AF Aginflation calculations showed a 7.15% increase in cost of production, and a 51.32% price increase of granulated sugar to British consumers. 

Charles Whitaker, Managing Partner at Brown & Co issued a statement here supporting the growers position and arguing that the offer price should be £55/tonne. 

We await further developments with interest. 


Retailers pushing for deflation 

The Grocer has reported seeing an email where Waitrose is asking suppliers for “deflation proposals”.  

So no sooner has the ink dried on the latest cost of production estimates, including our Aginflation report, than the retailers are requesting their ‘share’, despite farmers subsidising increased production costs for years, and absorbing huge inflation since 2021. 

Dairy, beef, lamb, sugar beet and potatoes are all still costing more to produce than the increases in payment by supermarkets over the last two years, yet prices in store continue to increase above inflation.   

This on top of the recently reported mass import of foreign eggs, which fail UK welfare and food safety standards, the 29% cut in milk price over the last 12 months and the farmer distribution centre blockades in protest at unfair pricing. 

Will retailer actions to support British farmers ever match their increasingly thin rhetoric? 

And in response to the news, Jo Frankllin (@theladyfarmer) tweeted:


Eager Beaver 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wants beavers to be released throughout the country. Following his visit to release beavers back into Paradise Fields in Ealing, London, the capitals newest castorfile feels qualified to propose rural ecological policy. 

Khan said: “I’m disappointed that they (DEFRA) are not bringing beavers back. They know the evidence about beavers helping protect ecosystems, and one of the points I’m saying to the Labour team nationally, is not only is this the right thing to do for our environment, for our communities, it is a vote-winner – a no-brainer.” 

In reply, Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, advised “While urban politicians might take a romantic view of expanding greenery, rewilding has become a divisive issue in the countryside, largely because advocates show little to no regard for those living and working on the land where they propose species be introduced.” He added: “Rewilding might be a fun pet project for the Mayor of London, but it will have catastrophic consequences if isn’t tightly controlled and those that live on the ground aren’t fully consulted.” 

As yet no comment from Mayor Khan on the other proposed species for reintroduction, including lynx, bison, wild boar, wolves and bears. The latter could be an interesting conflict for the hipster eco-amateurs: where they co-exist, a bear’s preferred food is…beaver! 


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