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Milk Quotas

Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what action her Department will take to ensure the implementation of the Thomsen ruling on non-producing milk quota holders in respect of (a) existing tenant farmers who are non-producing milk quota holders, (b) non-tenant farmers who are non-producing milk quota holders and (c) tenant farmers who are non-producing milk quota holders but who cannot sell because they are in dispute with their landlord over the apportionment of its value; and if she will make a statement on the effect of the ruling on each of the groups listed; [126227](2) what assessment she has made, following the outcome of the Thomsen judgment, of cases where landlords refuse to give permission to their tenant farmers who seek to sell their non-producing milk quota; and what action her Department can take in such cases. [126225]

[holding answer 16 July 2003]: As a result of the Thomsen European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment, quota holders, irrespective of status, 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. 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. The new European Council quotas regulation, which is still under negotiation, provides for this period to be reduced to two years. Currently, only the quota holder may apply for restoration of quota but we are considering amending UK legislation to allow anyone with an interest in the holding/quota to apply.Although representations have been made to the Department with regard to landlord/tenant issues in the light of the Thomsen judgment, it is not for Defra to intervene in cases where private tenancy agreements give rise to quota disputes between landlords and their tenants.