HC Deb 02 March 1964 vol 690 cc885-6
1. Miss Quennell

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of the funds available to the Agricultural Market Development Executive has so far been applied for; and how much has been granted.

3. Sir J. Maitland

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for what purposes the 1962 Agricultural Market Development Fund has been used since its inception; and if all the money available has been spent.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Christoper Soames)

Approval has been given for grant on over 100 projects for promoting the better marketing of agricultural and horticultural produce, for preliminary researches required for that purpose, and for forming new farmers' cooperatives and selling groups.

The total grant so far committed amounts to approximately £½ million, or one-third of the total available of £1½ million over the three-year period ending in March 1965. By that time perhaps as much as £1 million may have been committed. As information on the nature of the projects is necessarily somewhat lengthy, I will arrange for a summary statement to be placed in the Library of the House.

Miss Quennell

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that very satis- factory reply, may I ask him if he could indicate whether in the proportion of the grants made for improving marketing facilities emphasis has been placed on the collection from the producers, the popularising of the products or the distribution thereafter to the retail outlets of the market?

Mr. Soames

We have not broken it down in that way. If I could give my hon. Friend some figures, 34 per cent. of the total estimated grant—that is in respect of 28 per cent. of the projects —has been spent on research surveys, investigations and experiments aimed at finding out more precisely what the market wants; about 36 per cent. on investigations into promotion, grading, standardisation and better product presentation, and 25 per cent. on other surveys, investigations and experiments into promoting efficient marketing. They all go very much hand in hand.

Sir J. Maitland

Could my right hon. Friend go a bit further with the dissemination of this information than just placing it in the Library? Does he not think that it is extremely important for the agricultural community to understand what is happening with this fund? This is a matter in which agriculturists are extremely interested and insufficient knowledge is available at present to enable them to make the best use of this excellent fund.

Mr. Soames

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I have no doubt that he and my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Miss Quennell), in putting down there Questions, will have brought the matter more forcibly to the notice of the farming community. My right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Sir R. Nugent), who is the Chairman of this body, has held Press conferences to draw the matter to the attention of farmers, and there has been a good deal about it in the agricultural Press. I agree that everything possible should be done to publicise it.

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