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Hill Farming

Volume 87: debated on Monday 18 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is satisfied with the present state of hill farming in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Following the abnormal weather experienced during the summer months this year, farm incomes are expected to be adversely affected in 1985–86. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced on 8 October that assistance will be given towards the extra costs incurred this year and the amount and extent of that assistance is under consideration. Announcements about this and the rates of hill livestock compensatory allowances for 1986 will be made shortly.

When will the Secretary of State pay the hill livestock compensatory allowances? Will he pay them in full?

The hill livestock compensatory allowances are being considered at the moment. It is only within the past 10 days or so that we have had the normal meetings with the unions. They have expressed the hope that an advance payment of allowances will be made this year. The Government are well aware of the need to make early payments to relieve the problems that arise from this year's very wet weather.

Because of the serious difficulties suffered by hill farmers, will my right hon. Friend consider introducing a generous outgoers scheme on the milk side?

We already have such an outgoers scheme. Not only has it helped those on the milk side who wished to leave the industry, but it has enabled us to put more than half the Welsh producers back to their original 1983 base levels. We do not have any plans to introduce a further scheme. The European Commission has put forward tentative proposals for a European scheme, and we shall have to consider them in due course.