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Farming Industry (Import Saving)

Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 3 November 1965

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the savings to the import bill which have been contributed by the farming industry so far this year; and how this figure compares with the previous year.

Reliable comparisons of import saving by the farming industry from one year to the next cannot be readily prepared from the available statistics. There is, however, every reason to expect that, as envisaged in the National Plan, agriculture will continue to increase its substantial contribution to import saving.

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the savings to the import bill contributed by the agricultural industry are an important achievement? Should not the industry be encouraged by a far greater share in the home market than merely a part of the increase in demand which is caused by the natural increase in population?

If the hon. Member would read carefully the appendix to the agricultural section of the National Plan, count the figures carefully and subtract the amount of grain from what the industry has said it is technically possible to provide, he will find that the two figures are not far apart.

Will the hon. Gentleman kindly expand a little on his reference to the National Plan? Will he say a little about what is meant by a "major part" of the increased production and what will be the percentage which is produced from home farms?