The end of lean cows. After experiencing several difficult years, sugar beet growers will make money this year thanks to high sugar prices and decent yields, announces the General Confederation of Beet Planters (CGB). “This year is (...) synonymous with an improvement with even more buoyant markets, which should make it possible to remunerate beet at around 55 euros per tonne,” notes the specialized association of the majority union FNSEA, in a press release entitled “return to profitability”. “There is nothing to be ashamed of about high prices. After several difficult years for our sector, (...) this is good news because our production costs have increased significantly in recent years,” underlines the president of the organization, Franck Sander.
He specifies that beet is no longer profitable “at less than 35 euros per tonne”, a threshold much lower than the remuneration of 55 euros expected for this 2023-2024 campaign. At the start of 2023, beet growers experienced the definitive ban on using seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides – harmful to pollinators – as a “sledgehammer”, following a decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union.
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They feared colossal crop losses in the event of an attack of yellows, a virus transmitted by a green aphid which stunts the plant. And demonstrated with more than 500 tractors in February in Paris. The CGB claimed that many planters risked abandoning this crop due to the decline in chemical solutions available to them to treat it. “This context resulted in a further drop in surface area of 5%,” deplores the organization.
The harvest is not yet finished due to heavy rains in recent weeks in the north of France. At this stage, the yield is expected to be “the average of recent years, around 83 tonnes” per hectare. The profession was rather spared from jaundice. The damage from the virus was “mainly localized in the Centre-Val de Loire region, near Chartres”. France is the leading European producer of sugar. It is “self-sufficient and exports half of its production, or 1.8 million tonnes of sugar”, according to the CGB.