Although we have not made a specific assessment as requested by the hon. Gentleman, the financial viability of the agriculture sector is strong. Average farm business income across all farm types increased by 6 per cent. in 2008-09 and is expected to remain at similar levels for 2009-10. Although these are averages for all sizes, small and medium-sized farms would be expected to show the same year-to-year trends in income.
My beautiful constituency of Macclesfield has many small and medium-sized family farms. Will the Government support the seven policy statements in the National Farmers Union manifesto, which I believe will bring about conditions in which family farms can improve both their production and their income and, thus, make a great contribution to the economy and food production in this country?
We recognise the invaluable contribution made to the rural economy by small and medium-sized farms, and we have already discussed the sector’s importance this morning. We work closely with the NFU, and we are aware that it has produced this checklist of policies that it would expect political parties to consider in advance of the general election—obviously we will be doing just that.