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Agriculture

Volume 236: debated on Monday 10 March 1930

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Dairy Cattle (Shows)

59.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has consulted the Royal Agricultural Society and other similar societies as to the effect the Order recently issued by the Minister of Health to prohibit the entries of all animals licensed in certified and Grade A (TT) herds is likely to have on their shows; and whether he can give the number of cases, if any, that have been affected with tuberculosis by contact with other animals at agricultural shows?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, but my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health consulted the Certified and Grade A (Tuberculin Tested) Milk Producers' Association and also the British Dairy Farmers' Association, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, before issuing the Circular which makes effective the provisions contained in the Milk (Special Designations) Order of 1923, requiring licensed herds to be completely isolated from all other cattle. I regret I have no information as to the number of cases of tuberculosis in licensed herds due to contact with other animals at shows. Further inquiries are being made into the possibility of making adequate arrangements for isolation in these cases.

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that at shows like the Royal Show there is any possible chance of contracting tuberculosis, and would he not allow these cattle to be exhibited at such shows, even if they are not closed in?

I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that there must be many possibilities of animals being taken to shows and being exhibited under these circumstances. It is only with a view to carrying out the existing Law that these Orders have been made.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the fact that these animals cannot go to shows and get prizes lowers their value for exporting purposes, and lowers the value of pedigree stock in this country?

Wheat (Guaranteed Price)

60.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what would have been the cost to the Exchequer if a guaranteed price of 55s. a quarter had been paid to British farmers, in excess of the sale price of wheat for the past three years?

The cost of guaranteeing a price of 55s. per quarter (504 lbs.) for that part of the British wheat crop estimated to have been sold off farms would have been £2,116,000 for 1927 and £2,481,000 for 1928. On the basis of the average prices ruling during the first six months of the current cereal year the cost in respect of the 1929 crop would have been £2,892,000. An extension of the guarantee to the total production would increase the cost by about one-third.

Will the right hon. Gentleman state what has been the financial loss incurred by the British producers and peasantry during the same period in producing wheat?

Policy

61.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has considered the resolutions from the Berkshire and other county councils urging the leaders of all political parties to co-operate in framing a national policy for agriculture capable of immediate application; and whether, in the meantime, he will consider putting into operation some of the recent recommendations of the Council of Agriculture for England?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, but I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply on this subject which I gave to the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) on the 28th November. In reply to the last part of the question the recommendations of the Council of Agriculture are always carefully considered with a view to such action as is practicable.

Seeing that important bodies like the county councils are agreed that something must be done for agriculture, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the recommendations of the Council of Agriculture for England and see whether anything can be done?

We are doing what we can, but I will send the hon. and gallant Member a copy of the last recommendations, and he will see for himself.

Milk Prices

62.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the average price paid to farmers for milk per gallon during the present yearly contracting period; what is the average price charged to consumers during the same period; and what is the average cost of transit from the point of delivery by the farmer to the wholesalers' premises?

The estimated average price paid to producers for milk—not including creamery milk—since October last has been about 16½d. per gallon. According to the Ministry of Labour's published prices the average retail price of milk since October last has been 26d. per gallon. The average railway passenger train rate for milk amounts to nearly l½d. per gallon. I have no information as to the average costs of conveying milk to the vendors' station or from the consignee's station to the wholesalers' premises.

Have the Department made any efforts to press upon farmers the value of acting as direct distributors to the consumers instead of through a third party?

In view of the discrepancy in the price between that obtained by the producer and that paid by the consumer, is not this a matter which might well be brought before the Food Council?

It is a matter that the Food Council has considered, and we are considering it.

Smallholdings

64.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of smallholders leasing or purchasing land from county councils; the average size of the holdings; and the percentage of failures for the past three years?

On the 31st December, 1929, there were 27,563 tenants of small holdings provided by county councils and councils of county boroughs in England and Wales; the total area of such holdings was 439,319 acres, giving an average of 16 acres per holding. The area of land sold by councils up to the same date, excluding land not needed for small holdings, was 5,463 acres and the number of purchasers 674, an average of eight acres. I have no precise information as to the percentage of failures during the past three years, but the number is believed to be very small.

Wheat Peices

66.

asked the Minister of Agriculture in view of the distress caused by low wheat prices, what steps are being taken, in co-operation with the Empire Marketing Board or otherwise, to develop the demand for the Home crop by advertising national-mark flour?

The Ministry, with the co-operation of the Empire Marketing Board, has maintained continuous publicity for National Mark flour by the distribution, to traders and to the public, of circular letters, leaflets, lists of authorised millers, and shop display material; use has frequently been made of the Department's broadcast talks, Press service and Press articles; the Department has also shown National Mark flour when participating in local and national exhibitions, while branches of the National Farmers' Union have taken steps to interest their members as consumers. I hope during the coming year to be in a position to develop still further the public demand for National Mark flour.