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Dairy Industry

Volume 124: debated on Thursday 17 December 1987

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50.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he next intends to meet representatives of the farming unions to discuss the state of the dairy industry.

I have frequent meetings with representatives of farming organisations, although at present I have no plans to discuss this specific topic with them.

62.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has recently received concerning the future of the dairy industry; and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will detail the assistance given to dairy farmers since 1984; and if he will make a statement.

The Government's policy has been to provide the industry with a firmer long-term foundation by matching 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 he most serious.Massive resources were devoted to the allocation of quotas and to cushioning the effects on the most vulnerable producers—for example by means of a £50 million outgoers scheme, and the restoration of quota cutbacks to those with low levels of production. In Community negotiations 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. At this year's price fixing the Government secured the continuation of quota leasing.At a domestic level ADAS has helped farmers develop production and business management strategies to meet the reduced output requirements under quotas. The Government are supporting a number of projects in research centres which are of direct relevance to the problems of the dairy industry, and efforts have been made to maximise the clarity and flexibility of the mechanisms for the transfer of milk quotas. Dairy products are among those promoted by Food from Britain and my Department is currently considering with the industry a diary product programme under EC regulation 355/77.Details of the current level of public spending on support of the dairy industry will be set out in the annual review White Paper to be published shortly. In 1986/7, spending on direct market support in the dairy sector represented nearly £100 per cow.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.