asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the current level of the pig breeding herd of the United Kingdom.
At a most recent census in August 1979 the United Kingdom breeding herd of sows and gilts in pig was 833,000.
In view of the official EEC forecast of a decline in our pig herd, and the pressure on our pork meat processing factories, does my hon. Friend agree that the MCAs are still distorting competition? Will he press for a further devaluation of the green pound?
There is no doubt that one reason why our pig industry has faced difficulties in recent years is competition as a result of high MCAs. In March this year MCAs were running at £231 per tonne. Today they are at £79 per tonne. That has been a considerable help to the industry. However, I acknowledge that there is still a gap.
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that although the pig industry has become slightly more profitable the dangers are still great? Will he turn his attention to the question of marketing and ensure that it is examined, particularly in the bacon industry?
Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend is right.