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Small Producers

Volume 228: debated on Thursday 8 July 1993

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps are being taken to help small producers.

An important source of help to small producers is their ability to be able to claim arable area payments under simplified arrangements that do not require any land to be set aside.

I welcome my hon. Friend's reply and the assistance to small producers, but could not more assistance be given to some of our organic farmers, many of whom are small producers, perhaps via lower limits through the organic aid scheme?

I am pleased that my hon. Friend mentions organic farming, which is an important and developing area. However, it is equally important that, in developing, it does not swamp the available market for its excellent produce. A recent consultation document that we put out showed that a minimum eligible area of 10 hectares, and 50 hectares in the less-favoured areas, might be a possibility. As a result of the responses that we have received to that consultation document, we are considering whether a lower limit might be possible without excessive administrative cost.