HC Deb 12 April 1962 vol 657 cc1500-2
38. Mr. Darling

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will consult the Agricultural Research Council and the appropriate marketing boards with a view to promoting a joint research project into the processing of surplus perishable farm produce both for human consumption and for animal feedingstuffs.

Mr. Vane

Surpluses are significant for only a few products and only occasionally for these. The marketing boards are responsible for promoting efficient disposal of their respective products and arrange for research as necessary. The technical problems connected with processing are generally less difficult than the economic problems of disposal but we shall always be ready to bring to the notice of the Agricultural Research Council any matters requiring fundamental research.

Mr. Darling

Is this not doing it the wrong way round? In view of the public criticism that is bound to grow when surplus foods in this country are destroyed and when there is hunger in the world, is it not desirable to get a research project going to see what can be done to process surplus products? While they may be seasonal, could not these surplus products over a period of time provide animal feedingstuffs, and so on, if the research work is properly done?

Mr. Vane

Although, as I said, the problem is more the economic one of disposal, research is going on by the Horticultural Marketing Council into the processing of surplus apples, by the Tomato and Cucumber Marketing Board into the processing of small and low-grade tomatoes, and the Agricultural Research Council has been asked to look at the qusetion of skim milk. It would be wrong to suppose, therefore, that a great deal of attention is not being given to this subject.

Mr. Eden

Is my hon. Friend aware that some surplus skim milk has a considerable value in its natural state as a fertiliser when employed as a spray on land, particularly hill farming land and forestry land? Will my hon. Friend consider this aspect as one of the possible ways for using some of this skim milk?

Mr. Vane

I have not had experience of that, but the most natural outlet for this product is for stock feed. The demand for this is increasing and the Milk Marketing Board is endeavouring to develop that outlet, but, as I pointed out, hon. Members should remember that this surplus is an irregular one.

Mr. W. Hamilton

Why do we have this policy of at one time having a surplus of foods which we cannot get rid of and at another time a shortage of potatoes?

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