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Volume 130: debated on Wednesday 30 March 1988

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has determined the market support prices for potatoes to apply in Great Britain for the 1988–89 crop year beginning on 1 July.

Agriculture Ministers have consulted the farmers' unions about the market support arrangements to apply for the 1988–89 crop year. Ministers have decided to authorise the F'otato Marketing Board to enter into pre-season contracts with producers to purchase not more than 300,000 tonnes of potatoes over the period November 1988 to May 1989 at a scale of prices not exceeding a weighted average of £53 per tonne. Within the 300,000 tonnes limit the board is free to decide what tonnage to place under contract. We have also authorised the board to intervene directly on the market throughout the season where this will ensure that support can be carried out more cheaply than by purchasing tinder contract, provided that the total intervention during 1989–90 does not exceed 500,000 tonnes. The target area for potato plantings in Great Britain, another important factor in market stability, was fixed last July at 156,000 hectares.