Saturday, June 23, 2018

British Sugar pledges to reform harvest and haulage scheme

May 31, 2018 by  
Filed under Crops

British Sugar has promised to improve the Industry Harvest and Haulage Scheme (IHHS) – set up in 2010 to provide harvesting and haulage services to sugar beet growers.

It follows concerns expressed by growers about the operation of the scheme – and an independent assessment of the haulier appointment process alongside a report examining how greater transparency would benefit farmers and hauliers alike.

Joint funded by British Sugar and NFU Sugar, the Douglas report says improvements are needed to restore grower confidence in the scheme. British Sugar says it will now implement a series of changes ahead of the 2018/19 sugar beet campaign.

The exact nature of these changes are expected to communicated to growers in due course. NFU Sugar and British Sugar have also agreed three principles that the scheme must operate to – and will now work together to implement the changes.

Fragmentation

NFU Sugar board chairman and Cambridgeshire beet grower Michael Sly said:  “NFU Sugar has maintained for some time that the Industry Harvest and Haulage Scheme (IHHS) has focused on cost reduction at the expense of value to the industry.

“Talking with growers there are plenty of examples of fragmentation in the most recent campaign, which not only goes against the core aims of the scheme, but has been a real financial and logistical burden.”

Welcoming British Sugar’s commitment to implementing the Douglas recommendations, Mr Sly added: “To remain competitive in the post-quota world, it was vital that the industry focused on maximising yield potential from farm to factory.

It was also pleasing that British Sugar has committed to working with NFU Sugar to make further changes necessary for the to operate against the agreed principles. “Only by doing both of these things can we ensure that the IHHS will be fit for the future.”

The Douglas report says it found no evidence of wrong-doing within the schemes operation. But it says some haulage operators claim to have been “groomed” or encouraged to invest significantly and to grow their capacity – without guarantees of tonnage.

The report recommends that there needs to be greater promotion of multi-year haulage contracts – to avoid what it describes as the annual round of resource-intensive negotiations and inevitable fallout between parties.

British Sugar managing director Paul Kenward said: “I take the recommendations of the Douglas report very seriously and we are committed to implementing them.

“The Industry Harvest and Haulage Scheme has the potential to drive further efficiencies and yield improvements for our growers and we will continue to work with NFU Sugar to deliver a better scheme for the future.”

studiopress

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