HC Deb 10 February 1958 vol 582 c12
16. Mr. du Cann

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is satisfied that the current level of imports of barley does not affect adversely the marketing of home-grown barley by British farmers; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Godber

While world barley prices are much lower than a year ago, my right hon. Friend has no evidence that British farmers have not been able to dispose of their crops because of the imports of barley.

Mr. du Cann

In view of the fact that imports of barley appear to have been increasing, over the last three years at any rate, is my hon. Friend certain that the marketing of barley by British farmers will not be adversely affected in the future if imports continue to rise?

Mr. Godber

Imports have risen because there has been a larger consumption of feedingstuffs in this country. I do not think there is any evidence that British farmers have been unable to sell their barley. If there were an increase in production at home, I should imagine that imports would fall.

Mr. Collins

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that British farmers, in default of being able to sell their barley or to get a price of more than £17 a ton, have been compelled to buy weaners and feed it to them in order to dispose of it at all? At the present price of bacon pigs, it means less than two halfpennies for a penny. Has the hon. Gentleman considered the effect on the barley acreage this coming summer? This is a serious matter.

Mr. Godber

I do not think it is true that farmers have fed their barley to pigs because they could not sell it. They could sell it. They have chosen to feed it to pigs, and I do not see anything wrong in that. But what we want to see is an increase in the production of feeding-stuffs at home and a reduction in the total import bill. That will come about if we expand our home production of feeding-stuffs; there will then not be so much imported.