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Farming Unions

Volume 580: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2014

The Minister will know that at the last Budget the annual investment allowance was increased to £500,000 until 2015, but that is restricted to plant and machinery. Will he add his voice to the farming unions’ voice and many others that that should be extended to buildings and infrastructure in the coming years? Will he therefore plead that case on behalf of Welsh farmers?

Those are matters for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I will raise his question with Ministers at the Treasury and discuss it further. On the whole, business throughout Wales welcomed the measures in the Budget to increase the investment allowance.

On a more specific matter, the Minister knows about the case that I am about to raise with him, because he has a copy of the letter I wrote to his right hon. Friend in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Welsh Black species of cattle is not included on the native breeds endangered list in England; it is included in Wales. As a result, people are unable to export pedigree Welsh cattle over the border to England for those who wish to enter the English countryside stewardship scheme. That is a restraint of trade against Wales, it is unfair and it could be actionable. Will he please get DEFRA moving and get it to register appropriately?

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for raising the case with me and for sending me a copy of that correspondence. He raises an entirely fair and sensible point. The Welsh Black is a fine example of Welsh quality produce. There should not be any bureaucratic or policy reasons why it should not be able to be traded in England on an equal basis. I will look into the matter urgently with my colleagues from DEFRA.

Is my hon. Friend aware that on 11 June some of the best produce from Wales will be on display and available for Members to sample in the Jubilee Room when we hold Montgomeryshire day?

I was aware of that, and I encourage right hon. and hon. Members from both sides of the House to make their way to the Jubilee Room on that date and to sample some of Montgomeryshire’s finest produce.

One of the issues that farmers and farming representatives raise with me is the need for clearer and better labelling and traceability. Some good work has been done at all levels, including the European Union. Will the hon. Gentleman join me in calling for even clearer labelling so that people can be confident that they are getting Welsh Black, which could be made in Anglesey, in Wales or in the United Kingdom?

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point, and we have recently discussed labelling on the Floor of the House. We need to be careful about not putting extra burdens on business at this time, but clearly, high-quality labelling which provides good, relevant information for consumers, particularly about country of origin, is an important way of marketing Welsh produce on a wider level.