Sugar beet: claiming payments

Entitlements for farmers under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) for sugar beet growers who are registered with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).


This guide gives information on the international and UK market conditions for sugar beet.

It explains the financial entitlements available for beet growers who are registered with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) - including entitlements under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and cross compliance requirements.

Finally, it will explain the role that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the RPA play in the sugar beet market, and where you can find further information.

UK market conditions for sugar beet

The UK is the fourth largest and lowest-cost producer of sugar beet in the EU. Over 4,000 growers grow approximately 7.5 million tonnes of sugar beet each year on just over 100,000 hectares of land, producing half the sugar consumed in the UK. Approximately 75% of this sugar is sold directly to industrial users such as manufacturers of food, soft drinks and confectionery.

The two sugar processors in the UK are British Sugar and Tate & Lyle. Tate & Lyle are the major exporters of white sugar, and their Thames (Silvertown) refinery is now the only cane sugar refinery in the UK. British Sugar, which is owned by Associated British Foods, is the sole processor and marketer of home-grown sugar beet. Between September and March, British Sugar processes approximately 350,000 tonnes of sugar beet each week, amounting to over one million tonnes of sugar from homegrown sugar beet.

Sugar beet is also used in the production of bioethanol, which can replace up to 5% of unleaded fuel in cars in the UK. You can read about bioethanol production on the British Sugar website.

The International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE) and the European Committee of Sugar Manufacturers (CEFS) published a preliminary guide in November 2009 on how sugar beet growers and the sugar industry are cooperating on environmental initiatives. You can download the CIBE-CEFS Leaflet - The EU beet and sugar sector, a model of environmental sustainability from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) website (PDF, 923K).

The NFU represents all UK sugar beet growers in negotiation with British Sugar and the government, whether or not they are members.

Entitlements and financial support for beet growers

Land used to grow beet is eligible to be used to claim payments under the SPS. You will need to follow cross compliance requirements in order to receive the direct payments in full.

For more information about SPS and how it can help your farming business, see the guide on the Single Payment Scheme (SPS).

Regional funding

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) is jointly funded by the EU - through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development - and the UK government. Funds from Common Agricultural Policy schemes can also be transferred into the RDPE as part of a process called ‘voluntary modulation’.

What are Regional Implementation Plans?

Regional Implementation Plans set out how the RDPE will be implemented in each of the regions from 2007 until 2013.

What cross compliance means for beet growers

In order to receive the full SPS payment - and certain Rural Development scheme payments - you must comply with a set of Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs). These relate to areas of public, animal and plant health, environment and animal welfare. You are also asked to demonstrate that you are keeping your land in good agricultural and environmental condition. These requirements are collectively known as ‘cross compliance’. All agricultural activities are covered by cross compliance and you must comply with the requirements across the whole agricultural area of your holding, regardless of the amount of land you entered into the SPS.

Most of these standards reflect legal requirements that you should already follow.

You can read guidance to cross compliance in England on the RPA website or in the guides on cross compliance: the basics, Statutory Management Requirements and standards of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition.

For technical advice and queries on cross compliance, you can call the Cross Compliance Helpline on 0845 345 1302. You can also find information on cross compliance on the Cross Compliance website.

SMR 4 - Nitrate Vulnerable Zones

Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) account for approximately 70% of England, and action programme measures set out under SMR 4 affect how you are permitted to use organic manures and manufactured nitrogen fertilisers.

SMR 4 requires farmers to comply with certain controls including:

  • an annual livestock manure nitrogen farm limit
  • specified ‘closed’ spreading periods
  • an upper cap on the total amount of nitrogen that can be spread to certain types of crop
  • restrictions on spreading locations and techniques
  • the records you must keep

You can read answers to frequently asked questions and NVZ interactive ADAS maps on the Environment Agency website.

Find information on the requirements and standards of cross compliance on the RPA website.

Environmental Stewardship

Environmental Stewardship, the agri-environment scheme under which a number of organisations - including the NFU, the Country Land and Business Association and other industry partners working with Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) - encourage farmers into Environmental Stewardship and voluntary action to help protect water quality and local farmland birds, plants and animals.

Further information

National NVZ Helpline

0845 345 1302

NFU Sugar Helpline

0870 0661 974

Cross Compliance Helpline

0845 345 1302

RPA Sugar Restructuring Compensation Helpline

0191 226 5308

Defra Helpline

08459 33 55 77

SPS information on the RPA website

Single Payment Scheme information on the RPA website

Recent and ongoing sugar updates and negotiations on the NFU website

Single Payment Scheme news and updates on the RPA website

Sugar beet information for beet growers on the NFU website

CAP schemes listed on the RPA website

RDPE information on the Defra website

Grants and funding information on the Natural England website

Woodland grants and funding and the timber industry on the Forestry Commission website

Cross compliance guidance in England on the RPA website

SPS and cross compliance information in England on the Cross Compliance website

Published 10 September 2012
Last updated 13 June 2013 + show all updates
  1. Fixing references to specialist guides
  2. First published.