THE BEET SUGAR MILLIONS [To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.]
Stn,—Doubtless you have received many letters condemning your leading article entitled "The Sugar Beet Millions," in your issue of April 26th. I feel, however, that the statements which you make are so grossly one-sided as to give the agri- culturally ignorant public an entirely misleading impression of the whole case. From the statistics which you give, it is quite obvious that the factories have recently been enjoying considerable prosperity. Has the farmer received his share of the profits ? Since the subsidy was first granted, the growing side of the industry has gradually been improving its. methods of production, until it is now at last a crop which justifies the work necessary to produce it. It appears to be obvious that it is as usual the farmer that is doing all the work and the middle man, or rather in this case, the factory, who is making most of the profit.
It has, I believe, been suggested that the farmer shall be paid 13 per acre as recompense for the withdrawal of the subsidy. It would be interesting to have suggestions as to what crops he shall grow instead. It appears that, as £5 has to be paid for every acre of potatoes grown above the basic acreage, and as the acreage of wheat is now above that provided in order to obtain the full quota, a large quantity; of land will go out of cultivation. You do not appear to realize what a vast number of minor industries are largely dependent on the sugar beet industry. The manuring of 400,000 acres with 5 cwt. of artificial manure per acre (a very small dressing) is a matter of 100,000 tons for the merchants concerned. One has only to travel through the beet growing areas during the lifting season to realize the amount of trade that haulage contractors obtain from this source. You state that the Empire sugar industry has been hit badly by our home production. Yet you point out that 40 per cent, of the sugar consumed in this country comes from abroad. It appears that you would rather see thousands of Englishmen ruined, than upset the foreigner by imposing a duty on the sugar that he imports.
In short, should the Greene Committee's report be adopted, it will mean ruin to many hundreds of farmers, havoc and over-production of other farming produce, unemployment among thousands of workers and a knock-out blow to many minor industries dependent on the sugar beet industry.—Yours faithfully, Josus. The Change, Great Yeldham, Essex.
[It is, of course, perfectly natural that persons and localities benefiting from the beet-subsidy should desire its continuance. The whole question has been submitted to a completely dis- interested and impartial Royal Commission whose majoriti
has declared, for reasons which we regard as sound and convincing, for the abolition of the subsidy. There is, of course, an alternative view, and it should be possible to put it dispassionately. Accusations of bias and partiality would not seem to be essential.—En. The Spectator.]