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Food And Farming Year 1989

Volume 499: debated on Monday 11 July 1988

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2.54 p.m.

What are their plans for Food and Farming Year 1989.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
(Baroness Trumpington)

My Lords, events to celebrate British Food and Farming Year are being co-ordinated by British Food and Farming, an independent organisation launched in 1985. The Government thoroughly support its aim of creating wider understanding of the important role which the food and farming industries play in our national life. The Ministry of Agriculture is represented on the organising council for the year and I am closely involved with progress on what is planned. I believe that this special year creates a magnificent opportunity for adults and children alike to find out about every aspect of the food and agriculture industries. Perhaps your Lordships will forgive my long reply. I am terribly enthusiastic and I hope that your Lordships will be as well.

My Lords, perhaps I may thank my noble friend for that enthusiastic reply. Can she tell the House how children will he involved in the programme?

My Lords, an extensive programme of school visits to farms is being arranged. A new teacher training pack has been launched by BFF with sponsorship from a food company. It is available for schools at the very reasonable price of £4.50. A free booklet sponsored by the Crown Estate and the Countryside Commission called Learning front the Land has been published. It gives advice on how to organise a farm visit.

My Lords, is the Minister aware that rumour has it that the Ministry of Agriculture will only ante in £50,000? That seems to be a very unenthusiastic amount for such a major programme about which the Minister is so enthusiastic. Perhaps the British Food and Farming Year celebration can be co-ordinated with the centenary of MAFF. However, if the rumour that MAFF will be abolished is correct, perhaps that would not be suitable.

My Lords, although the government grant will be of material assistance, this is essentially an industry celebration. I am glad to say that several important sponsorships have already been secured from industry, notably for a major festival in Hyde Park next May. Events to mark the MAFF centenary which falls in 1989 include the publication of a specially commissioned history, exhibitions in London and the regions, a special sporting event for staff and a centenary appeal in aid of Save the Children. MAFF is contributing quite a lot of money to its own celebration.

My Lords, can the Minister say exactly what her department will be doing at the food and farming celebration in May 1989? Is she aware that that will be the biggest event of its kind in London since the Great Exhibition of 1851?

My Lords, we look to the noble Lord's BBC committee to help us. I am sure that my plea will not fall on deaf ears. MAFF is represented on the Council of British Food and Farming and on its two key committees on policy and publicity. MAFF officials and Ministers stand ready to offer help and advice, whenever it is asked for.

My Lords, will the noble Baroness give the House an assurance that no more agricultural land will be taken out of production in 1989?