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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 February 2006, 19:05 GMT
Sugar growers warned of 10% cut
Sugar beet farmers have been told by their union to prepare for a 10% cut in this year's quota.

In a letter to growers, the National Farmers Union says it is disappointed and accuses ministers of losing their nerve during talks with Europe.

Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire farmers had asked for no reduction in UK quotas after a 7% cut last year.

The UK sugar industry is said to be one of the most efficient in the EU.

Raw material

UK growers produce only 50% of domestic consumption needs, importing the rest from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

The NFU wanted quota cuts to be targeted at countries which produce an exportable surplus.

Farmers hope the EU will decide exactly what they plan before this year's crop is sown in the middle of March.

In future years British Sugar hopes to take up the excess production previously grown as an insurance measure against crop failure to use as the raw material for a bio-diesel plant being built at Wissington in Norfolk.

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