HC Deb 14 July 1919 vol 118 c44
110. Mr. JESSON

asked the Food Controller whether he is aware that there are actually more cattle in this country now than when war was declared, and that if a free market were made for cattle and meat by the end of August prices would fall rapidly between then and Christmas; whether he is aware that in the last two months dressed beef has fallen 20 to 25 per cent. in the markets of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia; that the available beef cattle in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay is larger than in 1914; that meat prices are only kept up in this country by our system of control; that last autumn thousands of cattle after being fattened were driven back from the market and starved back into the condition of store cattle, while special arrangements had to be made to send beef to the Army to prevent its wastage; and will he state whether it is intended to continue next autumn the system which produced these conditions last year?


The estimated number of cattle in this country is slightly greater now than at the date of the declaration of war, but owing to the shortage of concentrated feeding stuffs the condition of the animals has suffered, and the yield of meat has been considerably reduced. I am informed that the temporary fall in North American prices referred to was caused by a period of extremely hot weather, and that there has already been a sharp rise in the market. The information at my disposal does not indicate that the available number of beef cattle in the Argentine, Brazil, and Uruguay is larger than in 1914, and owing to the uncertainty as to supplies and the danger of a considerable increase in prices on a free market, it has been decided to maintain over the winter a system of control on the lines of that in force last winter, when supplies of home grown and imported meat were equitably distributed on a reasonable scale of prices.