Meetings under way to reconstruct sugar beet industry

Sugar beet meetings with the Department of Agriculture are under way with the view to re-construction of the beet industry. However, the Minister of Agriculture has warned a viable commercial proposition needs to be in place for this to happen.

In a recent parliamentary question, Kildare South Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Agriculture for an up-to-date position on sugar beet quotas, in which he outlined its position.

The Department met with two separate groups who had conducted sugar beet industry feasibility studies in 2011, into the possibility of establishing a new sugar/bioethanol facility in the country.

“I clearly stated at both meetings and on many occasions since both in the Dáil and elsewhere, that any venture to develop a combined sugar/bioethanol production facility would have to be a viable commercial proposition, and supported by a business case which is sufficiently robust to attract the funding from investors for the very substantial capital investment required,” the minister noted.

“I confirmed with both interested parties that it is my job to seek the earliest possible date that would allow for the growing of beet again for the production of sugar in Ireland.”

The Department of Agriculture noted figures published by the interested groups who are investigating the possibility of building a new facility, that the overall capital cost costs involved could range from €250m to €400m, depending on what type of facility will be constructed.

“My Department officials have met with both feasibility study groups on a number of occasions since then to brief them on the progress of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform negotiations in Brussels, which included measures for a revised sugar regime and meetings with both interested groups are ongoing.”

The minister also noted that following very comprehensive and extensive discussions an agreement was secured to abolish all EU sugar quotas by 30 September 2017. This agreement removes, with effect from 1 October 2017, the sugar quota barrier for operators in Ireland or other member states in Europe, wishing to re-commence sugar processing.

“This agreement has been welcomed by those who are interested in seeking to re-establish a sugar industry here,” he added.

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