EU levy refund secured for British beet sugar industry – your questions answered
Sugar beet growers are collectively owed millions of pounds in overpaid levies, after a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed that growers were historically overcharged by the EU Commission using a ‘flawed method’ for calculating the now discontinued levy. Read more.
Growers of sugar beet during 1999 and 2000 are entitled to a repayment of both the overpayment, and the interest accrued.
Growers should receive a form from British Sugar to fill out in order to receive their repayment. If you believe you are entitled to a refund and do not receive a letter, we urge you to contact the helpline British Sugar has set up on 01733 422153 in order to apply for the repayment. The refund, over £6 million in total, is split roughly equally between growers and British Sugar.
Q: What is the levy?
A: Prior to 2006 the EU Commission collected a levy from all sugar producers to pay for the export of sugar outside the EU. The beet growers contributed to the levy as well, via a deduction from the beet price.
Q: Why is it being repaid?
A: The Commission calculated the levy in 1999 and 2000 using a flawed method that over-charged the amount. Sugar processors in the EU challenged this and have succeeded in getting it revised following a number of EU court cases. A proportion of the levy from the 1999 and 2000 crop years is therefore being repaid via the RPA.
Q: When will it be repaid?
A: We are working closely with RPA and hope to get the payment around the end of September 2018. Claims can’t be paid before then as RPA have to formally submit the claim to the EU Commission. The repayment to growers will come from British Sugar.
Q: Who will be eligible to receive it?
A: Beet growers contracted in the 1999 and 2000 seasons that delivered ‘contract’ (“A/B Quota”) beet will be eligible. The levy was not paid on ‘surplus’ out-of-contract (“C”) beet.
Q: How much will it be?
A: It depends on the contract size and on any base rate movements until the end of September, but the repayment is expected to be about 43p/tonne of Contract (27p in 1999 and 16p in 2000).
Q: What does a grower need to do to get their money?
A: The NFU and British Sugar have set up a helpdesk to process claims. Initially a letter will be sent to all growers we have details for at the last known address, and a form will be enclosed with this to register a claim and provide bank details where needed. The telephone number to call for enquiries is 01733 422153.
Q: What are the deadlines?
A: The EU Commission has set a deadline of end September 2018 and no further claim can be accepted after that date. Completed forms must be received by British Sugar by 25th May in order to be processed.
Q: What if I grew beet in 1999 or 2000 but don’t get a letter?
A: Please call the helpdesk number – 01733 422153.
Q: Why do I have to supply my bank details?
A: If you are still growing beet as the same legal entity then it is unnecessary as British Sugar will have your details. Ex-growers will need to send details as the payment will be made by “BACS” direct to your account.
Q: What if a relative or partner grew beet then but has since died?
A: The estate or partners remaining will be eligible, though probate or other proof may be needed.
Q: What if I don’t have the information you’re asking for but I can prove we grew beet during the period in question?
A: The information requested is information the RPA has made clear they require in order to authorise payment; payments cannot be made without all of the requested information. Proof therefore needs to be in the form of a copy of your original contract, an invoice showing the contract tonnes, bank payment details or farm records showing the contract tonnes.
Q: What if, through no fault of my own, I cannot provide the information requested by your deadline?
A: All requested information will need to be submitted by the deadline for payment to be approved by RPA. Regrettably therefore forms that are incomplete by the time of the deadline cannot be processed