asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many beef cows there are in Wales; what were the corresponding figures for the last three years; and if he will make a statement.
Numbers of beef cows in Wales have declined from 194,400 in 1978 to 185,700 in June this year, but I am pleased to note the recent improvement in market prices, which will enhance the prospects for the industry. Welsh farmers will particularly welcome the Government's proposals to increase hill livestock compensatory allowances for beef cows by £2 in the coming year.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there will be an acute shortage of home-produced beef in January due to adverse Government policies? What plans has he to safeguard the interests of the consumer?
The Government have taken a number of measures to help farmers through this difficult period. The most recent measure is the increase of £2 for hill beef cows, which I know has been widely welcomed. That increase will help to correct the imbalance that has been developing in the hills between beef and sheep. The beef suckler cow premium is providing assistance, as is the beef premium scheme. I am sure that all these measures are playing a part in the welcome increase in prices that is taking place.