HC Deb 02 March 1966 vol 725 cc1284-5
24. Sir H. Studholme

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will seek to extend to marginal farms, which, owing to their nature and locality, do not qualify for hill cow subsidy and cannot grow crops for sale, an extended type of farm improvement scheme, coupled with a subsidy for suckling herds, in order to help them play their part in the required expansion of Great Britain's national beef production.

32. Mr. Jopling

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware of the increasing economic hardship to farmers on farms which are close to hill areas, as they do not qualify for hill subsidies; and if he will take steps to improve these conditions.

Mr. Peart

We are examining with the National Farmers' Unions various suggestions for helping livestock farmers on difficult land outside the hills. The hon. Members will understand that I cannot say anything more while the Annual Review discussions are in progress.

Sir H. Studholme

Does not the Minister agree that there would be considerable advantage in such a policy as I have suggested in that the erosion of the guaranteed milk price would be reduced?

Mr. Peart

As I have said, there is a problem here, but it is one that we are discussing with the farmers' unions.

Mr. Jopling

While understanding that the Minister cannot go far on this matter, may I ask whether he would agree that this group of farmers, who are just below the level of the hill subsidy, are finding things most difficult in the economic circumstances of the industry at the moment?

Mr. Peart

I accept that, and that is why I said that I wished to discuss this matter. I assure the hon. Gentleman that it is being examined now.

Mr. Peter Mills

Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that these are among the hardest hit farming areas in the country and that it is from these areas that he could obtain the necessary beef stores he wants?

Mr. Peart

I have said that this matter is being examined very carefully indeed. I cannot go beyond that now.

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