HC Deb 19 January 1971 vol 809 c701
8. Mr. Spearing

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in modifying the system of public support for agriculture, and with particular reference to the policy of expanding output, what proposals he has for encouraging good husbandry and discouraging practices likely to harm soil structure or fertility.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

It is in the farmer's own interest to understand soil management and avoid practices that harm his soil. Assistance is available to him from the various services of my Department. In modifying the support system our aim is to enable farmers to get a proper return from the market and, within that framework to take their own farming decisions.

Mr. Spearing

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for that reply, does not he agree that the soil is the nation's most important and vital asset? Does not he also agree that any statutory provision, whether it be levy or support, should encourage farmers to engage in sound systems of husbandry which maintain soil health?

Mr. Stodart

I agree. The basic remedy for the deficiencies that were shown by the recent soil structure report, although we should not exaggerate them, is a more balanced and more prosperous agriculture.