Written Answers. - Sugar Beet Industry.

David Stanton

Question:

117 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the total acreage under sugar beet each year for the past five years; the value of this to the economy; his views on the future of the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25129/01]

The total acreage under sugar beet over this period is as follows:

Marketing year

Area in hectares

(acres)

1996-97

33,994

(84,003)

1997-98

33,261

(82,191)

1998-99

33,468

(82,703)

1999-2000

32,995

(81,534)

2000-01

32,387

(80,032)

The production of sugar in all member states of the EU is regulated by the EU sugar regime which specifies a sugar quota for each member state. The regime provides that the quota is allocated to the sugar manufacturing enterprises in the member state's territory. In Ireland's case the sugar quota is 196,000 tonnes and is allocated to Irish Sugar plc. The company places contracts with approximately 4,000 farmers to grow sugar beet sufficient to manufacture the sugar quota. It is estimated that the value of the beet production to farmers is about £60 million annually.
The EU sugar regime which has operated since 1968 expired on 30 June 2001. The present regime, which began in July this year, will apply to the end of the 2005-06 marketing year and will provide stability to the industry during this time. It is, at this stage, too early to anticipate what type of regime will follow.