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Volume 933: debated on Monday 13 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the prospects for the milk and milk products industry after 1st January 1978 when the transition period of EEC membership comes to an end.

In the milk industry the end of transition will mean the dismantling of the United Kingdom milk guarantee arrangements and the final upward step in intervention prices to the Common EEC level, converted to sterling at the representative rate. From 1st January 1978 the average price received by NI farmers for milk will be less than that received by GB farmers owing in the main to the smaller proportion of milk sold on the higher price liquid market. It is not possible at present to say how this will affect the prospects for the Northern Ireland dairy industry, which will depend on a number of factors including the prevailing statutory retail price of milk and the prevailing returns from milk going for manufacture.As I have previously stated publicly, the effects on Northern Ireland milk producers' returns of the change in the system of support from 1st January 1978 are being examined by my officials in conjunction with those of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Producer and trade interests in Northern Ireland are being consulted.