HC Deb 18 March 1946 vol 420 cc1530-1
66. Mr. Dye

asked the Minister of Agriculture what was the decrease in the number of dairy cattle kept in England and Wales as shown by each of the returns taken in 1945, as compared with similar returns in 1944; what are the estimated causes of the decline; and what steps he is taking to prevent such further decline as may lead to less milk being available in the future.

Mr. T. Williams

The number of cows and heifers in milk and in calf in England and Wales at quarterly intervals in 1945 showed decreases, as compared with the numbers at the corresponding dates in 1944, of 92,000 in March, 50,000 in June, 38,000 in September and 6,000 in December. Information is not available to indicate whether the reductions are among beef cattle or dairy cattle respectively, but sales of milk in 1945 showed a significant and consistent increase over 1944. For some time farmers have been consistently encouraged to expand milk production by better breeding, more attention to disease prevention, and efficiency in herd management. All practicable measures are also being taken to overcome labour difficulties, including the development of relief milker schemes.

Mr. Dye

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the recent increase in the supply of milk might be due to a very favourable season?

Mr. Williams

I rather prefer to believe that the increase in milk supplies, with a smaller number of cattle, is due perhaps to more efficiency.

69. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the offer of cooperation made by the Chairman of the Milk Marketing Board on 7th March, he will now consult with the Board and the National Farmers' Union in order to evolve a systematic plan for building up disease-free dairy herds in advance of a further extension of the compulsory pasteurisation of milk supplies.

Mr. T. Williams

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Barkston Ash (Colonel Ropner) on 28th January, of which I am sending him a copy. At the moment I cannot usefully add to that reply, but I hope to be in a position fairly soon to discuss this matter with producer interests.

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