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Fat Sheep

Volume 12: debated on Thursday 12 November 1981

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17.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received over the grading regulations and seasonal scale for fat sheep.

The only specific representation on grading I have received recently is in the question tabled for answer today by my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Sir T. Kitson). I have received no representations on the seasonal scale.

Will my right hon. Friend accept that I am surprised at the lack of representation, when so many farmers in Mid-Wales—an important sheep farming area—are concerned about the inequalities of the system? Will he take on board the concern over the injustice of a system that shows a lower return than the guaranteed price?

My right hon. Friend and I will be happy to receive representations on behalf of my hon. Friend's farmers. I appreciate that the grading regulations and seasonal scale can have different effects on different areas in accordance with particular circumstances.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there is a great deal of disquiet about the grading systems? Will he consider half-and-half grading, which would be a much fairer system for our sheep farmers?

I ask my hon. Friend to await the answer that I shall be giving to him later, but I shall take account of his point. However, experience of grading demonstrates that his claim is not necessarily borne out by the facts. I assure him that we review the gradings from time to time.