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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 beef producers.

[pursuant to his reply, 8 May 1987]: At successive price fixings, in the face of almost unanimous opposition from other member states and the European Commission, we have successfully defended the beef variable premium scheme, which is currently worth £120 million per year to United Kingdom producers. At the December 1986 Council we secured the premium for a further two years, as well as taking steps to cut back intervention. These changes will bring the regime more into line with market realities: in my view they provide beef producers with greater assurance for the longer-term stability of the sector than has previously been possible.The suckler cow premium was introduced in 1980 at £12·37 a head and by 1984 we had doubled the rate throughout the United Kingdom, partly by topping up through national funding. It is now worth £28 million per year.The annual value of hill livestock compensatory allowances paid to beef producers in the United Kingdom's less-favoured areas increased from £26 million in 1979 to some £50 million this year. Beef enterprises also benefited by nearly £11 million from the special aid paid out in 1985 to help those livestock producers most seriously affected by the exceptionally bad weather.