HC Deb 19 January 1971 vol 809 cc704-5
14. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the dairy herd size at the moment in view of the need to meet the milk supplies required this year and to help in the production of beef; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

The number of dairy cows in the United Kingdom was 31,000 lower in June, 1970, than in June, 1969. This is one of the factors for consideration at the forthcoming Annual Review.

Mr. Mills

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that owing to the large amount of slaughtering of dairy cows in the autumn there could in some circumstances be a shortage of milk this coming year? Certainly, he will not be able to get the expansion he wants unless something is done about this problem.

Mr. Stodart

There was a reduction in the autumn owing to the high beef prices then prevalent, but my hon. Friend will be relieved to learn that milk sales are likely to hold good and even be up. The count of heifers in June was up by 5 per cent.

Mr. Wellbeloved

What will be the effect on milk sales and production of the Government's policy to destroy the principle of free milk in schools for our children?

Mr. Stodart

Absolutely nothing in this financial year. It will be a matter for the Price Review.

Mr. Brewis

Looking a few years ahead, is my hon. Friend satisfied that there will be sufficient margin for liquid milk consumption in winter, and sufficient over for increased butter and cheese production?

Mr. Stodart

I think that there is a considerable margin for increased butter and cheese production. The levies which we propose putting on minor milk products will assist in raising the returns, and this will all help. I think that I can answer the first part of my hon. Friend's question in the affirmative.

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