HC Deb 30 November 1939 vol 355 cc240-1
48. Mrs. Tate

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that under the present arrangements for farmers to plough up an additional percentage of land, many individuals are ploughing up valuable pasture land that is essential for the maintenance of the milk supply of this country; and whether he can now revise this scheme to ensure concentration upon the ploughing up of land in the eastern and other counties where the pasture is of less value and a relaxation of the compulsion in those areas where the pasture is of special value for dairy herds?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

The required increase in the area of arable land for next season's crops must, of necessity, involve the breaking up of pasture land forming part of farms at present used for the production of milk. The varying needs and conditions of farming in different parts of the country have, however, been borne in mind in fixing the quota of grassland to be ploughed up in each county and will, I am sure, be kept in view by the county war agricultural executive committees who are immediately responsible for the task. I would add that it does not follow that grassland, when ploughed up, will cease to produce food for dairy stock, since it may be used for a fodder crop which may provide a greater bulk of food available, moreover, for winter use. This in conjunction with improvement of the remaining grassland should enable the herd of dairy stock to be maintained if not increased. In these circumstances I see no reason to modify the existing arrangements in the way suggested.

Mrs. Tate

While thanking the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for his reply, may I ask whether in the case of a farmer feeling very strongly that his land is more valuable as pasture land, he is able to obtain exemption for it?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

There is an appeal to the county committee, who are composed of reasonable men.

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