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Animal Feedingstuffs (Ration)

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 22 March 1951

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asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will make a statement about rations of animal feeding-stuffs for this summer.

Yes, Sir. I apologise for the length of this answer. In spite of substantial dollar purchases the total supply of animal feedingstuffs available for the ration pool in the year beginning 1st May next is likely to be rather less than in the preceding 12 months. It will, therefore, be necessary to reduce the rations for dairy cows by 14 lb. per cow per month for each of the three months May, June and July, and to reduce by one third the cereal part of the "steaming-up" allowance issued in July for cows due to calve in the autumn. The amount of discretionary reserves to be allocated by county agricultural executive committees this summer will also be less than in recent years. Apart from these changes, summer ration scales will be the same as for last year.

I should add a warning that the level of self-sufficiency in cereals for dairy cows throughout the next winter period is likely to be the same as at present, namely, the first 1⅛ gallons of milk per day, whilst, as already announced, for protein next winter we shall be requiring self-sufficiency for the first gallon of milk per day. Despite the difficulties of the present sowing season, all farmers with livestock would be well advised to plan for the maximum production of fodder crops and silage.

How does this estimate of cereals and protein feedingstuffs in the coming year compare with the figure for last year? Will it hinder the expansion programme? What steps has my hon. Friend taken to consult the farming interests in this important matter?

The comparison with last year is that we are down a little, but not very much. We have got about 5.25 million tons as against 5.4 million tons, but we are very nearly 1,750,000 tons up on 1947–48. As to the effect on the expansion programme, it may retard slightly some milk production, but with new techniques of grass growing we may well overcome that. As to consultation, this announcement was made after consulting the Ministry's rationing advisory committee, which includes representatives of the farmers.

The hon. Gentleman has said how the figure he has given us compares with that for 1948. Will he say how far down it is on that for 1938?

Not without notice, but it does not seem very relevant anyhow. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No, with great respect. We cannot have in 1950–51 any more than is available for 1950–51, whatever may have been available in other years. This season, as everybody knows, there is, all over the world, a shortage of cereals due to the weather and other causes. We have got all we can get, including a large dollar purchase.

Was there not any wet weather before the advent of Socialism?