HC Deb 10 March 1947 vol 434 cc952-4
57. Mr. Dye

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will make a statement regarding steps to be taken this season to encourage a much greater acreage of linseed and other oil-seed crops in this country.

Mr. T. Williams

As the reply is rather long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Captain Crookshank

Will the Minister say whether he is taking any steps to get some Canadian seed over for the purpose?

Mr. Williams

I can assure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that we have endeavoured to get seed from Canada, the U.S.A., Copenhagen and elsewhere.

Captain Crookshank

With what success?

Mr. Williams

Not much. Following is the reply:

As indicated in my reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gains-borough (Captain Crookshank) on 6th March, the Government desire to encourage the growing of linseed during the next few years as a contribution to our supplies of linseed oil and of oilcake. Accordingly my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food will buy for crushing all linseed of fair average quality which farmers offer from the harvests of 1947 and 1948 at a price of £40 per ton net weight in bags (£39 5s. per ton net in returnable bags) plus cost of carriage to mill. As a further inducement farmers will be permitted to buy for feeding to their own stock one ton of linseed cake for every three tons of clean linseed delivered for crushing from the 1947 and 1948 harvests. Detailed arrangements will be announced later.

As at present, farmers will be permitted to retain linseed of their own growing for sowing or feeding to stock, but may sell only either (for sowing) to a licensed seed merchant or (for seed crushing) to the Ministry of Food. I hope there will be a substantial increase in the linseed acreage, within the limits of the seed supply available this year and an even greater increase in 1948. Having regard to our needs and to climatic and other considerations, linseed is much to be preferred to other oil-seed crops.

The sowing of linseed should fit in well with this year's farming operations in view of the general lateness of cultivation, since it can be sown later than spring cereals. County war agricultural executive committees are being asked to facilitate the threshing of linseed still left unthreshed, and to treat linseed as a priority crop. Many annual weeds growing in linseed crops can be controlled by means of the new selective weed killers. This advance, therefore, overcomes one of the objections of farmers to linseed, namely, that it is a dirty crop.