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Volume 458: debated on Monday 12 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken to protect the UK milk production sector from European competition. (125225)

If the UK milk production sector is to remain competitive it must become more efficient and market-focused. In England, the Government are helping it to do so through a range of measures, including:

(i) our support for English Farming and Food Partnerships (which is promoting collaboration and co-operation between farmers and between farmers and the rest of the food chain);

(ii) the Food Chain Centre (which has been promoting benchmarking and investigating the scope for efficiencies with supply chains); and

(iii) the Dairy Supply Chain Forum (which aims to increase the efficiency and promote the sustainable development of the dairy supply chain).

Defra has also awarded grants of over £1.3 million under the Agriculture Development Scheme to projects that aim help the dairy sector become more efficient. We understand that a strategic action plan for the dairy industry in Wales has been developed to encourage effective measures that will stimulate innovation and product development.