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Milk Quotas

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans have been put in place to ensure that unused UK milk quota is redistributed to UK farmers after 31 March 2004; and if she will make a statement. [117147]

As a result of the Thomsen European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment, quota holders who are no longer in active milk production will, by 31 March 2004, have to sell their milk quota, resume production, or otherwise have their quota confiscated. We anticipate that the vast majority will either sell their quota or resume production. Where quota is confiscated, under the current UK legislation the quota holder has six years in which to resume production (and thus have the quota restored to him or her) before the quota is definitively taken into the national reserve of quota, and therefore potentially available for redistribution. Under the current CAP reform proposals, this period would be reduced to two years. We would propose to consult relevant trade organisations on the basis for redistributing quota confiscated as a result of the Thomsen ECJ case, if significant amounts of quota were confiscated, and thus potentially available for redistribution.