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Volume 886: debated on Thursday 20 February 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he has made in discussions with EEC Agricultural Ministers in relation to a new support policy for beef.


asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what agreements have been made in relation to a deficiency payment structure for beef production.


asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will give an undertaking that beef produced in this country will not be bought into intervention.


asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the new EEC beef support system, and indicate what guaranteed price producers will receive as a result of the EEC farm price talks on 10th to 13th February.

I would refer the hon. Members to the statement which I made to the House on 17th February.For the United Kingdom there will be a target price for the period March 1975 to February 1976 of £22·85 per live cwt. for clean cattle. This should provide producers with an average return of between £22 and £23 per live cwt. The intention will be to provide reasonable seasonal variations in producers' returns. Monthly target prices will be announced three months in advance to give fatteners more specific guidance on the intended return. The target prices for the first three months will be as follows:

March 3 to March 29£22·55 per live cwt.
March 31 to April 26£22·80 per live cwt.
April 28 to May 31£23·20 per live cwt.
A fixed headage payment will be made throughout the year. When the sum of this payment and the average market price of clean cattle falls below the monthly target price a variable premium will be paid. This premium will initially be calculated weekly in relation to the average market price for clean cattle, so as to assure an average return at the level of the target price. It will be calculated separately for Northern Ireland so as to ensure that returns to producers there are in reasonable relationship to those for Great Britain.Neither the headage payment nor the variable premium will be paid on beef sold into intervention. This reduces effective buying-in prices and means that support buying will take place on only a limited scale.The details of this system have been discussed with the farmers' unions and will be subject to review in the light of experience. I am satisfied that the new system gives an assured return to producers in a manner that also meets the interests of British consumers.