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Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 6 February 1980

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the quantity and value of surplus butter produced by the European Economic Community during 1979; and how he anticipates it being disposed of.

Recent estimates given to the European Commission indicate that butter production in the EEC in 1979 may have amounted to about 1,980,000 tonnes, with consumption—including that of imported butter—at about 1,690,000 tonnes. However, in assessing the true surplus, account has to be taken of the extent to which the last figure will have been increased by the various subsidies designed to stimulate consumption within the Community. These include a general consumer subsidy for butter, as well as a number of special schemes for disposal to the armed forces and non-profit making organisations, for direct consumption as concentrated butter, and for use in the manufacture of pastry products and ice-cream. In addition, the Community exports considerable quantities of butter.