To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his estimate of the reduction in agricultural production which will result from the proposals so far published by his Department; and if he will make a statement.
A number of my recent proposals have implications for land use and the level of production on farms. The farm woodland scheme, for which powers are being sought in the Farm Land and Rural Development Bill at present before Parliament, and the extensification scheme, on which I published a consultation document on 8 December, will both provide opportunities for farmers to reorientate their businesses to reduce production. Information on which to base estimates of the actual effects on production will not be available until we know the number of farmers willing to take part in the schemes and the area and productive potential of the farmland concerned. I shall be studying this as part of ongoing monitoring of the schemes when they are being implemented in practice.