HC Deb 02 November 1966 vol 735 cc450-1
31. Mr. Jopling

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware of the loss of income suffered by farmers whose principal business is the production of store sheep and cattle, caused by the low market prices in the last few months; and what action he intends to take to assist them.

Mr. Peart

After a long period during which the market—for store cattle in particular—has been strong, prices declined sharply this autumn. Even so, the general price level is above that of earlier years. More recently, the tone of the market has improved, especially for good forward beef stores and the better quality store sheep. Farm income is a matter which we look at in the Price Review.

Mr. Jopling

Is not the Minister aware that these last three months have been absolutely vital for the whole year for farmers of this type, and does not he realise that there is a very serious crisis? Many of them, including many in his own constituency, are facing ruin. Will not the right hon. Gentleman get off his bottom and do something about it?

Mr. Peart

I would rather the hon. Gentleman would sit on his bottom instead of causing gloom. That is no answer in any case. I said in my reply that I believe that the tone of the market is improving. I wish that hon. Members opposite would not try to talk down the market.

Mr. Noble

But the Minister and a great many of his constituents in the hill country must know perfectly well that the fact that the market may be turning up now is of no avail to people who had to sell two or three months ago.

Mr. Peart

I am aware of what has been the state of the market. I have said this before. There are reasons for it of which the right hon. Gentleman is well aware. I am glad that the market is now becoming stronger. The question of help to farmers in these areas is a matter for the Annual Price Review.