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Volume 114: debated on Thursday 23 April 1987

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will next meet the president of the National Farmers Union to discuss the beef sector of the agriculture industry.

I meet the president of the National Farmers Union frequently. On 1 April we discussed a number of matters, including the state of the beef sector.

When my right hon. Friend next meets the president of the National Farmers Union, will he discuss with him the very real anxieties of the hard-pressed beef producers in this country, and in particular the anxiety about the effect on the market of the cow cull that will result from the implementation of the outgoers scheme? Is he aware that there is some confusion about the existence of some 430 million ecu, apparently to help to stabilise the market, and will he be so kind as to explain this to the House?

Yes, I am glad to explain to my hon. Friend that the Commission recognises that measures taken in the milk sector will have an impact on beef producers. It estimated that the cost of the dairy package that would fall on the beef budget would be 435 million ecu in 1987 and 1988. That figure, which was confirmed by the Commission on 27 March, is an estimate of the extra expenditure on aid for private storage and export refunds that could arise as a result of the extra cow beef coming on to the market.