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Dairy Producers

Volume 116: debated on Monday 11 May 1987

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures the Government have taken since 1979 to support British dairy producers.

[pursuant to his reply, 8 May 1987]: The thrust of the Government's agricultural policy has been to provide the industry with a firmer long-term foundation by mathcing production more closely with the needs of the market. This is of course particularly true in the dairy sector, where the surplus problem has been the most serious.

The introduction of quotas was inevitably traumatic for the industry, but massive resources were devoted to the allocation of quotas with speed and equity and to cushioning the effect on the most vulnerable producers — for example by means of a £50 million outgoers scheme. In Community negotiation the Government secured and have successfully fought to maintain flexibility through the formula B system and regional compensation. The reductions in quota agreed last December were accompanied by generous compensation to producers. The Government have taken a lead in pressing for Community action to reduce the cost of animal feed.

At a domestic level, Food From Britain was established in 1983 to promote the marketing of British food and drink, including dairy products. ADAS has helped farmers develop production and business management strategies to meet the reduced output requirements under quotas, and the Government are supporting a number of projects in research centres which are of direct relevance to the problems of the dairy industry.

The dairy industry's own enterprise, and the Government's commitment to it, have contributed to improved farm incomes in real terms over the last two years; of all the main types of farming, it is the dairy sector's real net income position which compares most favourably with that in 1978–79.