Sugar beet growers set for share of £6m-plus refund

Sugar beet growers are set for a share of more than £6m after a landmark ruling.

Thousands of farmers who grew sugar beet in 1999 and 2000 are set for a share of the levy refund following the EU ruling.

A case brought by processors to the European Union’s Court of Justice has concluded that growers, and British Sugar, are collectively owed millions of pounds in overpaid levies.

Growers have been historically overcharged by the EU Commission using a “flawed method” for calculating the now discontinued levy, the ruling found.

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Around 8,750 farmers who grew sugar beet during 1999 and 2000 are entitled to a repayment of both the overpayment, and the interest accrued, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said.

The refund will be split roughly equally between growers and British Sugar. It is expected to be paid out to British Sugar in the first instance by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) around the end of September.

Paul Kenward, British Sugar’s managing director, said: “I am pleased we are able to confirm to growers, that after a considerable period of time, we can refund the right money to the right growers.

“We’ve written to all growers asking them to complete a simple form so that we can submit the claims to the RPA, and we’d urge growers to return this to British Sugar as soon as possible.”

Michael Sly, the NFU’s sugar board chairman, advised growers to call British Sugar’s helpline on 01733 422153 if they do not receive a form or if they are in any doubt about whether they qualify for a refund.