HC Deb 25 May 1944 vol 400 c930
51. Mr. David Eccles

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is yet in a position to make any statement about the future prices of livestock and milk.

Mr. Hudson

The Government have decided to guarantee to producers of milk, fat cattle, calves, sheep and lambs an assured market for their whole output of milk and meat during the four years up to the summer of 1948 at price levels riot less than those at present prevailing, but excluding the special milk bonus paid for the current year. These will be guaranteed minimum prices. The guarantee is given as an integral part of the four-year production plan for these commodities by reason of the long term nature of these forms of production. It is designed to encourage farmers to produce the increased quantity of milk that is likely to be required in the next four years and to stimulate a revival in the rearing of cattle and sheep for meat production.

Actual prices, which may exceed these minima, will be settled year by year in the light of all relevant circumstances after consultation with representatives of the appropriate farmers' organisations. This annual review will include, in the case of milk, the question whether the special bonus or some other supplement to the guaranteed minimum price is to be continued after 31st March, 1945.

For the year beginning in July next, actual prices of fat steers, heifers and cow-heifers will on the average be increased above the guaranteed minima by 2s. per live cwt. and of fat lambs and sheep (excluding ewes and rams) by approximately 1⅛d. per 1b. The prices for the 1944 wool clip will be the same as in 1943; a small part of the additional amount for sheep and lambs takes account of this decision. Methods of applying these price increases so as to give some incentive for quality, without sacrificing quantity of meat, have been discussed with representatives of the Farmers' Unions of the United Kingdom. Full details of the actual adjustments and of the dates from which they will operate will be announced later.