It is a bitter pill for Europe’s sugar farmers to swallow. After three days of tough negotiating, the EU’s members states have agreed to what has been described as radical reform at the heart of the bloc’s sugar industry. Broadly speaking the ministers plan to reduce sugar production while lowering its price in the EU.
Sugar produced by EU farmers is three times more expensive than that sold on other world markets. Its price now is to fall by 36 per cent, to make it easier for sugar beet farmers that drop will take place over four years. The changes are likely to cause job cuts at refineries and force many of the EU’s 325,000 sugar beet farmers out of growing the crop. The reforms will also do away with export subsidies.
Needless to say many farmers are up in arms. In the run-up to this accord they have staged protests in Brussels even dumping sugar-beet outside key buildings. Britain’s agricultural minister justified the changes saying they were essential for the sugar sector to survive. The farmers say the reforms spell death for the industry.