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1979-1987 - Mr Major’s Written Question on Sugar Beet

Below is the text of Mr Major’s written Commons question regarding sugar beet, made on 12th November 1979.


Mr. Major asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many acres in the United Kingdom were drilled for sugar beet production in 1979; and whether he considers demand will justify continued production at this level in future years.

Mr. Peter Walker The area sown to sugar beet at 1 June 1979 was about 214,000 hectares - 529,000 acres. The area sown is only one of a number of factors which determine the supply of sugar, but I see no evidence to suggest that the United Kingdom is approaching a structural surplus. However, there is a surplus in the Community as a whole and I hope the Commission's proposals for the sugar regime from 1980 onwards will lead to its reduction.

Current prices £ per cow

                                       Years ending October

                                         1975        1976        1977        1978

Hill herds                           81.3        116.9        118.8        118.7

Lowland herds                  84.7        103.7        110.6        118.9

Index in real terms 1975 = 100†

Hill herds                        100        122        106        98

Lowland herds               100        104        95        94


* Gross margins are defined as output minus variable costs. Output per cow is measured by calf disposals during the accounting year plus market value of calves on the farm at the end of that year. Variable costs include forage costs.

† Obtained by adjusting the current price series by changes in the general Index of Retail Prices (RPI).