HC Deb 18 February 1963 vol 672 cc8-9
12. Sir A. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to what extent the snow and frost in January affected the home supply to the markets of eggs, milk, meat, potatoes and vegetables; and what estimate he has made of the losses sustained by farmers.

Mr. Soames

Supplies of many vegetables have been reduced by crop damage and harvesting difficulties. Eggs and potatoes have also been affected to some extent. Supplies of meat and liquid milk have been well maintained. In many parts of the country the unusually severe weather has called for a high degree of human endeavour and ingenuity to keep supplies flowing off the farm and into the distribution chain. Farmers in some parts have undoubtedly suffered serious losses. I am not in a position to make a reliable assessment of the overall loss, but the situation to date appears to be far less serious than in 1947.

Sir A. Hurd

Will my right hon. Friend take every opportunity he can in public of paying credit to the farm-workers and farmers, who have done a magnificent job in keeping things going in feeding and watering stock? Is it not rather remarkable that he has not had to give us calamitous figures of the losses in livestock and in vegetable crops? Does he not regard it as great testimony to the ingenuity and perseverance of the farming community that he does not have a much worse story to tell?

Mr. Soames

Yes, that is indeed so. We are certain that the situation to date in regard to losses is far less serious than it was in 1947.

Mr. Peart

Is the Minister aware that the Opposition also would like to be associated with his remarks concerning the magnificent work which our farmers and farmworkers have done in a very serious situation?

Mr. Lipton

Does the Minister propose to make any estimate of the quantities of livestock which perished miserably on Dartmoor through being frozen to death during the last few weeks?

Mr. Soames

Inevitably, there have been losses of livestock in some hill areas; it is inevitable in a winter like this.

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