George Freeman MP's visit to Brooms Barn to discuss the future of Norfolk's sugar beet industry
11th May 2012
Norfolk's sugar beet industry is a major and growing part of Norfolk's and the UK's agricultural economy. East Anglia is a major area of global sugar production, combining some highly sophisticated plant science, innovative agricultural businesses and world class processing plants such as the British Sugar factory at Wissington, Europe's largest sugar beet factory. As the world market for food commodities and agricultural technology grows in the developing world, this is a major economic opportunity for our local area and economy.
One of the most serious threats to our sugar industry is a disease called rhizomania which can destroy yields. In recent years huge advances have been made in the fight against this disease here in the UK by British scientists, engineering new varieties of crops which are disease-resistant. Last week I visited the UK's national centre for sugar beet research, Broom's Barn, part of Rothamsted, the longest running agricultural research station in the world. I met the scientists working closely with growers and the sugar industry to identify the causes and treatment of rhizomania and I saw some of the field trials of new rhizomania-resistent varieties of sugar beet. Brooms Barn is a great example of the strength of the UK's globally renowned agricultural research. The success of this research means that the future of Norfolk's sugar beet and the UK's sugar industry is bright.