DEFRA this week announced the emergency authorisation for the use of a neonicotinoid for the treatment of sugar beet. Considerable concern has been mounting amongst beet producers and sugar manufacturers that the crop would be devasted by the yellows virus if action was not taken. A number of other measures had been implemented by farmers to try stop the spread of the virus but these have had minimal impact.
Liz Truss MP commented ‘This is a concern that sugar beet farmers have raised with me across the constituency and an issue I pressed DEFRA ministers on. The emergency authorisation is for short term use and will be time limited and controlled. I joined farmers in Wereham last year and saw first hand the damage done by insect pests and the viruses they transmit, with the sugar beet yields in 2020 significantly reduced. Some farmers have reported an 80 percent loss of crop. If no action was taken in 2021, then farmers would be facing a similar issue this year. Cultivation of sugar beet is particularly high in East Anglia with three large factories processing the crop, the largest in Europe is at Wissington in my South West Norfolk constituency – it is therefore incredibly important to the local economy as well as the significant export revenues it generates.’
Photo: Liz meeting local farmers and NFU representatives, Wereham Sept 2020. Photo:F Walker