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Food Supplies

Volume 884: debated on Thursday 23 January 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what foods are at present in short supply.

Does the Minister agree with the Meat and Livestock Commission's forecast that beef will be in short supply in 1976? If so, what does he intend to do about it?

There is considerable scope for argument about the level of supplies of beef as far into the future as the hon. Gentleman indicated. The Government are anxious that we should have a prosperous and viable beef industry. That is what my right hon. Friend is determined to achieve when he returns to Brussels.

Is my hon. Friend aware that world grain and maize prices have been falling for the past two weeks, that this month world wheat prices have fallen below the EEC level and that an EEC import levy on wheat is now in force? Further, is he aware that it is now true of grain, dairy products and wheat that all of them can be obtained more cheaply outside the EEC than inside?

I think that my right hon. Friend is perhaps being a little sweeping, but I agree with the basic point that the relationship between EEC prices and world prices is liable to considerable fluctuation throughout the years and that there is no saying what it will be in two years' time.

Has the Minister forgotten that what are now in short supply are butter and milk products from our home resources? Will he take every step to ensure that at the forthcoming price review adequate incentives will be given to dairy farmers to ensure that milk supplies increase so that we can restore the supply of butter and milk products to what it was not long ago?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend is considering closely the position of the milk producer in the context of discussions prior to the annual review. I point out to the hon. Gentleman that if we are to remain a member of the Community we do not want a huge butter mountain.