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Livestock Farming (Financial Resources)

Volume 77: debated on Thursday 18 April 1985

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what shift in financial resources he has been able to make from cereals to livestock for the year 1985–86.

Discussions are currently taking place on the Commission's proposals for the 1985–86 price fixing, which would reduce the CAP support price for cereals, leave unchanged the price of beef and pigmeat and make modest increases in the price support for milk and for sheepmeat from January 1986.

As my hon. Friend knows, we are committed to trying to achieve a better balance of support between the arable and livestock sectors, and we have indicated that we feel the Commission's proposals do not go far enough in reducing the price support for cereals.

Does my hon. Friend agree that much more needs to be done if lifestock farmers are to receive the same financial opportunities as cereal farmers? Can we expect an accelerating trend towards livestock farming in the coming year?

My hon. Friend will know that in view of the market position, for example, in beef, the Community beef management committee recently agreed to augment the existing programme of hindquarter intervention with a short period of private storage aids. I hope that that will help. I believe that our endeavours to retain the beef premium scheme—at present it costs £2 million to £3 million a week to help producers—will undoubtedly help. We are trying to restore the balance in all those directions. However, I also believe that the recent reduction in the breeding herd will help to restore the balance and will help livestock producers in the long run.