asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of the decline in the beef herd of 3½ per cent. in each of the last two years, he will take steps to arrest that decline.
Beef producers' returns have recovered during the past year, and there are now signs that the decline in the beef herd is slowing down. Further measures to assist beef producers will be considered in the common agricultural policy price negotiations.
Will my right hon. Friend ensure that there is no reduction in the Buckler cow premium this year?
There is no doubt that the help that is given through that premium and the hill livestock compensatory amounts that the Government have consistently increased are of great importance to our beef producers.
Will the Minister consider extending less-favoured area status, at a lower level of assistance, to those areas where the beef herd, in particular, could be assisted by aid within the rules of the Common Market, without upsetting the susceptibilities of the French or anyone else?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, this is one of the aspects to be looked at in the marginal land survey, on which this country has moved particularly fast.