HC Deb 21 March 1973 vol 853 cc433-49
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Joseph Godber)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the Annual Farm Review.

The review shows that the general condition of the industry is good. Aggregate income, productivity, and investment have all risen. For some commodities market prices rather than the guarantees have become the main determinant of farmers' returns and the cost of direct support has fallen. On the other hand the industry is faced with an exceptionally severe rise in costs.

The review has taken place in the new context of our membership of the European Economic Community and we have extended the scope of our discussions with the farmers' unions accordingly. We have confirmed with the Commission that the determinations made in the light of the review conform to Article 54 of the Act of Accession.

The determinations have also had to pay full regard to the Government's counter-inflation policies. In making our decisions, we have concentrated on the implications for consumer prices. In this connection, the continuing paramount need is to maintain expansion of home output of food. In general this is the most effective way to offset high prices brought about by world shortages. The determinations are fully consistent with our counter-inflation policies. The industry is being asked to set higher productivity against very much increased costs.

There will be no immediate effect on consumer prices. As the cost increases this year show, fanners are very much involved in the fight against inflation. Their leaders recognise this. We are looking to the industry to make a positive contribution by absorbing a substantial part of its costs while continuing the expansion that is now under way.

The main features of the determinations are as follows:

Guaranteed prices will be increased:

  • —For wheat by £2.30 to £36.70 per ton;
  • —for barley by £2 to £33.20 per ton;
  • —for oats by £1.80 to £32 per ton;
  • —for potatoes by 45p to £17 per ton;
  • —for sugar beet by 26p per ton; the basis of the guarantee for sugar beet is being changed and the increase results in a guaranteed price of £6.97 per ton, roughly equivalent to £8.26 on the old basis;
  • —for fat sheep by 2.2p to 26.5p per 1b.;
  • —for wool by 2p to 25p for lb.;
  • —for fat pigs by 3p which, after allowing for feed adjustments, gives a new basic guaranteed price of £3.27 per score;
  • —for milk by l.5p to 24.6p per gallon; the Northern Ireland standard quality will be raised by 22 million gallons to 142 million gallons.
The guaranteed price for eggs is being left unchanged. The calf subsidy will be reduced to £8.50 a head for steers and £6.50 a head for heifers. The basic 30 per cent. rate of grant under the Farm Capital Grant Scheme will be reduced to 20 per cent., but the higher rates of grant for certain special purposes—including drainage and benefits to hill land-will remain unchanged.

A White Paper giving the basic data bearing on the review is being published today. This does not include, as previously, the schedule of the determinations which I have just announced. That will be circulated together with a detailed note of changes in the guarantee arrangements in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Copies of the schedule will also be available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Buchan

I thank the Minister for his statement. There is one obvious question. Has this been agreed with the farmers' unions? The right hon. Gentleman said that this has been an exceptional year. Does he not agree that the reason for that is the high prices which the British people have had to bear? Would he not further agree that, even since his own pleas, the price of fresh food has gone up by about 14 per cent.? Will he keep in mind that while he has referred to consumers and producers there is a third party involved—the farm workers? Is it not one of the most shameful episodes in agriculture over the past year that there has been an explosion in prices while the farm workers' wages have been frozen at £16.20?

Does he not agree that it is exceptional for another reason—that half of the Price Review has been pre-empted by his sudden announcement a week ago about the removal of the beef guarantee system? Is he aware that we deplore this steady dismantling of a sound and proved system, helpful to both farmer and consumer? Will he also accept that something else is happening today, namely, discussions are taking place in Brussels about prices? Although we see the review figure before us today and the prognostications of the effects of the review upon consumers, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we still have to wait for the decisions that will be made in Brussels? Does he appreciate that I hope, as I said on Monday, that if the spaniel has rolled over on to its back at least it will bark when the question of prices arises?

I have a specific question about milk. Are the reports correct that there is a deficit in the milk fund of around £30 million? How does he propose to deal with that deficit? Will he wipe it out by a Treasury injection or is it to be met by additional increases in butter and cheese prices for the British people? If it is to be wiped out by the Treasury, does this not mean a subsidy, and will he stop talking nonsense about subsidies meaning rationing and extend the principle to other commodities?

Will he tell us—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] Will he tell us the value of the review in relation to the cost involved, which the fanners estimate to be about £300 million? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that we need to examine this unusual review in detail and therefore shall demand a very early debate?

Finally, will he bear in mind that we do not exactly approve of a situation in which the Government preside with the grossest complacency over a period when we have had the sharpest price rises in our history?

Mr. Godber

I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman in his difficulty in finding something about which to complain.

The hon. Gentleman first asked whether the review was agreed. I wish to make it plain that, in view of the wholly changed circumstances surrounding the review, I agreed with the farmers' leaders at the start of our discussions this year that the old convention of asking for agreement should be discontinued. [Laughter.] However, I have no reason to think that they dissent from our general approach. I am informed that they have commented in the following terms, which perhaps will create similar amusement: Given reasonable returns from the market, given continuing improvement in productivity and normal weather, the determinations are such that resources should be available for expansion to continue. I understand that that is the attitude of the farmers' unions.

Turning to what the hon. Gentleman said about prices, he continues to use price indices which I do not recognise. As I told him on Monday night when he used such indices, we are using precisely the same basis of index as the Opposition did when they were in office, and if the hon. Gentleman uses it he will be able to argue more effectively. I reject his figure of 14 per cent., which is unreal and incorrect. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is it?"] I gave the figure in the House last week. Those Members who shout "What is it?" apparently were not here. They should have been in their places. They will find the figure in HANSARD, and I suggest that they look for it. The figure which I gave was 3.5 per cent.

On the question of farmworkers' wages, the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well the conditions in which their rise, like that of other workers, is held up by the standstill. But on 1st April they will be entitled, subject to the legislation having been passed, to receive their award in full. The award is equivalent to about 20 per cent. and it will make a substantial contribution to correcting any anomalies in farmworkers' wages.

The hon. Gentleman made a complaint about the beef guarantee. Under the Community arrangements, the guide price and the intervention price are substantially higher than anything under the guarantee. I believe that our farmers will benefit by this change.

With regard to milk and the deficit in the milk fund, there is a Written Question on the Order Paper today tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins), but I hope that he will forgive me if I indicate in advance what the answer is. The Government have decided to write off the deficit of £31 million in the milk fund so as not to have to impose an increase in milk prices at this moment.

The hon. Gentleman asked for a debate. We shall be very happy to have a debate. It is customary for the Opposition to find time for one, and I challenge them to find it.

Mr. Charles Morrison

I welcome what my right hon. Friend said about the Government's continuing intention to maintain the expansion of production. Can my right hon. Friend say by how much production has expanded since June 1970? Is it broadly his intention that all home egg requirements should be met by home producers? The cut in the capital grants will, regrettably and undoubtedly, disappoint some farmers. Can my right hon. Friend give any idea of the extent to which grants are in the pipeline—the extent of the investment involved?

Mr. Godber

There was a very substantial rise in productivity last year. There has been a slight check in the last few months, but the position is materially better than it was at the date indicated by my hon. Friend. The improvement in farming conditions since the Government came to office has been quite dramatic.

It is certainly our hope that the great majority of eggs consumed in this country will continue to be home produced, and I think that they will be. There is a temporary shortage at present, but I am confident that it will be corrected.

I understand what my hon. Friend says about the capital grant scheme, but the cost has been extremely high. It is expected to be over £90 million during the coming year, and some moderation was called for. However, I hope that farmers will continue to invest in buildings. It is important to recall that we have made no cut in the grant for drainage and other essentials, such as hill production.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

The Minister referred to the importance of agricultural production. Therefore, how does he justify the 10 per cent. cut in capital grants? What figure in money terms does that represent? This year costs are of the astronomical order of £285 million. Can the right hon. Gentleman give the total value of the determination? I accept that that may be difficult, but he should be able to compute the value.

Is it not the case that this is a substantial cost-minus review? Can the right hon. Gentleman be more specific about the effect of the review on the consumer? For example, how does he propose to recoup the milk deficit if liquid milk prices are to stay as they are? Will the effect be on manufactured milk? Is it not the case that the prices of butter and cheese may rise stiffly in the next few months? If so, the Minister should be frank and tell the House precisely what is to happen.

When will the Community review be published? Has the review already been agreed with the Council of Ministers? Will there have to be adjustments in our review in the light of the Community review?

Mr. Godber

I understand the right hon. Gentleman's concern about the cut in capital grants because it was he who increased the rates. However, as a result of the high rates, there has been high expenditure. It is estimated that in the coming 12 months expenditure will be over £90 million, which is a very substantial increase. There has been a dramatic rise over the past two years and it was time for a cut.

I agree that the figure for total costs —£285 million—is very large. The right hon. Gentleman asked whether this was a cost-minus review. We have not attempted a global total this year because the circumstances are very different. Commodities such as beef are coming out of the guarantee provisions of the review. It would not be realistic to seek to give a global total.

I have explained that the deficit in the milk fund is being written off. The prices which I have announced may change the position in the milk fund in the coming months. We shall have to assess the situation as we go along. No decision has been taken about consumer prices for the future.

The Community review will be considered at the Council of Ministers' meeting which I shall be attending next week. There will be another one in April, and there may have to be a third meeting. However, the review should be announced before the end of April. No reassessment in our own review will be required, except for commodities for which there is no longer a guarantee, such as beef, in the light of determinations made in Brussels.

Sir D. Renton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that consumers will be thankful that this review will have no effect on prices? Is he also aware that farmers are thankful for mainly good weather and a consistently good Minister—or two consistently good Ministers—and that in East Anglia, in particular, we are grateful for the increases in the guarantee prices for cereals and sugar beet? However, will he bear in mind for the immediate future the great desirability of publishing with the White Paper the changes in the guarantees and in any other arrangements which he makes? It will be rather inconvenient for those who follow farming matters to have to obtain a copy of HANSARD and the White Paper separately.

Mr. Godber

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for his comments, as I am sure is my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council. I hope that the arrangements for commodities to which he refers will benefit East Anglia. The position about the statement of the figures in the review is that, as we have changed the whole format of the review, and as so much is applicable to our consideration of Community affairs, it is probably better to keep our national determinations separate, but I will take account of what my right hon. and learned Friend said.

Mr. Hooson

The Minister said that there will be no immediate effect on consumer prices. Will he define exactly what he means by "immediate" in this context? After reducing the calf subsidies and increasing the price for cereals, does he expect farmers to grow more cereals when there is a shortage of meat, or does he rely upon the increase in beef prices to take charge of that?

Mr. Godber

In reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman's first point, I said that there will be no immediate increase in prices, and that is perfectly true. The only commodity that would be directly affected is milk if the Government were to take a decision. There is no question of a decision at the moment. I do not intend to anticipate if and when there might in future be an announcement.

In reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman's question on the price of cereals, I am not advocating that farmers should grow more or less of a particular commodity. It is for farmers themselves to judge the commodities for which their farm is best suited. The call of the market for beef is very strong and the call of the market for sheep is strong— and we have increased the sheep guarantee. These meats are both wanted on the market. I trust that farmers will increase production both of meat and of cereals.

Mr. Kilfedder

While I welcome my right hon. Friend's decision on eggs, I should like him to explain why the Government waited until this year, instead of taking action last year, to help egg producers, when so many of them have been facing bankruptcy. Does my right hon. Friend realise that the reduction in the rate of capital improvements— [Interruption.] I am not sure whether some of my hon. Friends want to intervene in the middle of my question. Does my right hon. Friend realise that a reduction in the rate of capital improvements will hit farmers badly in many parts of the United Kingdom? We have heard the comment of the right hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes) about Wales, and the reduction will also hit farmers in Northern Ireland, who have a higher capital involvement in new buildings because of the large number of small farms.

Mr. Godber

I note what my hon. Friend says about eggs. The decision to phase out the guarantees on eggs was taken some time ago, I think in principle by the Labour Government when they were in power. The guarantee will be phased out over the next year, but I hope that the arrangements made for this year will be of some help.

It is important to put capital improvements into perspective. The Government —and successive Governments over the years—have provided large sums to help with capital improvements. There has been a great opportunity for capital improvements, and the amount of money that is being spent both by farmers and by the Government has reached an all-time record. The amount spent by the Government on capital improvements has reached about one-third of the total cost of agricultural support. It has become out of proportion. That is why the Government have decided that the grant should be scaled down.

Mr. Alfred Morris

What has been the reaction of the National Farmers' Union to the reduction in capital grants? The Minister emphasised "immediate" when he said that there would be no immediate effect on consumer prices. Against the utterly shocking increase in food prices since the Government came to power, how does the Minister see the movement of prices in the year ahead? Why is he so deeply complacent about this important matter?

Mr. Godber

I am certainly not complacent. The whole point of this review, like previous reviews, is to expand production at home. That is the essential point. The hon. Gentleman may recall what the Gulliver report had to say about this in relation to beef prices. It said Our view is that whatever the merits or demerits of agricultural subsidies on other grounds the effect on prices has been favourable to consumers. We are encouraging increased production. That is the whole purpose. I do not pretend that the announcement on capital grants has met with favour from farmers or landowners, but it has to be seen as part of the whole perspective. I hope they will consider the points I have made.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

I accept that the review is a good one and is welcomed by the majority of farmers. Will my right hon. Friend enlarge on his wish for expansion in cereal production? What level of expansion does he expect? My right hon. Friend has changed the arrangements for sugar beet. Will he say a little about the level of acreage and uptake of the sugar beet crop? On the whole I am sure that farmers—particularly dairy farmers—will welcome the increase that has been given, which will help to stimulate the production of the dairy industry, and also the production of beef from the bottom of the dairy herds.

Mr. Godber

I would not like to forecast the precise results of cereal production expansion, but there is a genuine stimulus to increase production. Equally, there is a genuine stimulus to increase production of red meat. I hope very much that we shall get both. If I had to choose, I would say the more beef and lamb we could have, the better I would be pleased.

On sugar beet, the position is that the British Sugar Corporation has offered an additional 25,000 acres. This acreage is outside the guarantee arrangement, which is limited to 443,000 acres under the previous arrangements, but this acreage will be at world prices and has been contracted in that sense. This will be the future pattern for increases of this kind under the Treaty of Accession which was signed two years ago. There is an incentive, and with the present shortage of these foods, including sugar, on world markets there is a good demand for them.

Mr. Mackie

In view of the taunting indulged in by the right hon. Gentleman, and his right hon. and hon. Friends, of the Labour Government for not increasing the cereal acreage, will the right hon. Gentleman comment on the fact that the tillage acreage is less over five years, in spite of two first-class harvests? There has also been an increase in the import of cereals of 500,000 tons. Is not the right hon. Gentleman's much-vaunted increase due principally to the weather and imports?

Mr. Godber

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that, whatever the acreage of cereals, the crop yield has been a record one. That shows the way farming is going. We can take pleasure in this—[Interruption.] I did not say I was taking credit, I said that I was taking pleasure. Both sides of the House surely take pleasure in this achievement of the farming community.

I believe that there is a good incentive for production both of cereals and livestock. The important thing is to get a greater yield per acre, because the acreage available both for crops and grass is relatively static and we cannot do much about that.

Mr. Hicks

Will my right hon. Friend clarify the position of the horticultural industry? Which of the announcements he has made today will affect the future incomes of growers, particularly the announcement on the capital grants scheme, if it applies?

Mr. Godber

That is always a problem, and horticulture does not figure directly in the review. It figures only in relation to certain specific matters, for instance, fertilisers, which we are not changing. Horticulture has its own improvement scheme which is not affected by the farm grants, and that scheme will continue in its present form. An announcement was made in the House last week about an important new arangement for apple and pear growers, which I hope will help. We are seeking to help horticulture in such ways as we can.

Mr. Maclennan

Is the Minister unable or unwilling to put a figure on the total value of the review? If he continues to be coy, the suspicion is bound to grow that the Government are far from meeting the gargantuan increase in farmers' costs last year. Is he satisfied that the removal of the Government subsidy is the right method for improving and increasing the production of livestock and ensuring a growing flow of store cattle for fattening?

Mr. Godber

I am seldom accused in this House of being coy, and I am not being coy on this matter. This is not a case of our being unable or unwilling, but what has happened is that the whole situation has changed and it is no longer applicable to give a total figure. It would have been easy to keep beef in the review and to give a bigger increase and to include it within an artificial global total, but this would have had no meaning. The farming community recognises that factor, and this is why we have not attempted to equate it in that way.

I presume that the hon. Gentleman did not hear me correctly on calf subsidy. I did not say that it was being removed; I said it was being cut by 25 per cent. [Interruption.] Yes, the hon. Gentleman said "removed". I think that this is a fair situation in relation to the high price of beef which has been received from the market and that some cut was only fair. I hope that farmers will accept it in that sense.

Mr. Wiggin

Why has my right hon. Friend chosen this moment to cut capital grants by one-third? It seems particularly inappropriate at a time when the country has enjoyed only two years of prosperity under a Conservative Government, with our scarcely having paid off the debts incurred under six years of Labour Government, and when the industry at last has something to invest. As we go into the Common Market, surely this is the time to encourage capital investment.

Mr. Godber

I am sorry if my hon. Friend thinks that this is unreasonable, but it must be remembered that it was a Conservative Government who first introduced capital grants. Indeed, I was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture at that time some 15 years ago, and we have consistently supported farm capital grants in one form or another. When the cost of grants has risen to become such a high proportion of the total amount, it means that other aspects of farm support must suffer if capital grants dominate. There must be a fair balance between the two. Furthermore, in the last two years farmers have been investing strongly. All applications that were in before my announcement will still stand. The estimate of expenditure for the coming year will be the highest on record.

Mr. Strang

Is the £8 million cut in calf subsidy not a serious set-back for beef producers, many of whom are hill and marginal farmers, at a time when we are trying to increase the beef cow population? Is this not another electoral gimmick, as was the instant Christmas beef prices report, or is it a first step in dismantling the production grant system? Is this not another milestone along the road of the Government's obstinate refusal to try to protect the British people from the worst excesses of the common agricultural policy? Is it not the food consumers and farmworkers who are suffering? Tomorrow it will be the farmers.

Mr. Godber

That is an odd comment to make. This is not a gimmick. Seldom has a reduction in subsidy been called a gimmick. I believe that it is a fair allocation of funds when one recognises the way in which prices have gone up. I have been accused by Labour Members of not doing anything about this problem. Therefore, I believe that this is a fair cut, and I hope that it will be accepted by the farming community. In terms of market prices there should still be adequate incentive to the beef producer. If the hon. Gentleman says that the price of beef is falling, does he want the price of beef to stay up and affect the housewife? Presumably he wants the farmer to have a high price and the consumer a low price? That is a situation we cannot have. I regard this as a fair cut, and I believe that it will be so regarded by the farming community. I believe that they will continue with the remarkable expansion of beef production. As the White Paper shows, there has been an increase of 60 per cent. in the number of beef heifers in calf, and this is a record in the history of agriculture.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Will my right hon. Friend accept that housewives will welcome the continued emphasis on expansion because they know, despite what the Opposition say, that the only way to lower prices is to have a very large expansion? My own farmers, who farm mainly in the hills and on marginal land, will welcome the rise in the price of lamb and wool and the retention of the capital grants at a higher level for hill farms. They will not greet with enthusiasm the reduction in calf subsidy but, with soaring prices as they are, they will agree that it is fair.

Mr. Godber

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's kind words. I am glad about what she said about lamb. It is important to encourage increased production of lamb, and if her judgment is that her constituents will respond in this way, this is one of the best encouragements and assurances housewives can have.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would not wish to question your discretion or your choice, but, for the guidance of the House, would you say whether it is fair that every single Member who has been called on the Conservative benches happens to be a farmer?

Mr. Speaker

This is entirely a matter for me. I wish I were as omniscient as the hon. Gentleman appears to be.

Mr. Loughlin

Does the Minister agree that the primary purpose of previous price reviews has been, first, to hold down the cost of food, and, secondly, to maintain the prosperity of the farming industry? What Government money is involved in this price review, how will it affect the farming community in terms of receipts, and how will it affect any reduction of any kind in food prices which the housewife will pay? Is this not merely an academic exercise in the context of the dear food policy pursued by the Government?

Mr. Godber

No, certainly not. The last part of the hon. Gentleman's question is an absurdity in relation to the Government's stimulus to farm production. The whole basis of the price review, as the hon. Gentleman said, is to help to hold down the price of food by increased production and to help the farming community. The hon. Gentleman asked me about the figure of support. He will find it on page 34 of the White Paper. The total is £258.9 million, with the exception of the EEC figures which are given separately. This is Government expenditure over the whole field, including the best estimate we can make of market returns over the forthcoming 12 months. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) can think of a more accurate way of assessing it, I should be interested to know.

Mr. Kimball

Is it not a fact that—

Mr. Huckfield

Another farmer!

Mr. Speaker

I think the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) has raised a dangerous point. Does he suggest that I should not call trade unionists on trade union matters?

Mr. Kimball

Is it not a fact that the details of the farm price review were disclosed to the European Commissioner for Agriculture early last week? I make no complaint about good journalism in terms of the very accurate report of the farm price review which appeared in a Sunday newspaper, but is there not an important point involved for this House when a matter as important as the farm price review is leaked from Brussels? I hope that my right hon. Friend will draw the attention of the Brussels authorities to the importance attached by the House to receiving information on this matter before it is leaked to the Press from Brussels?

Mr. Godber

I understand my hon. Friends feelings, but if he studies the review of the Sunday reports to which he refers he will find that no single report was as accurate as reports which have appeared on previous occasions. In fact, journalists have not received any information of this kind. The information was given in confidence in Brussels at the end of last week. I considered making a prior statement to the House, but I felt that the House would prefer me to do so in the final form in which I have made the statement today.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that on reflection you will think again about the remark which you made just now. The inference, if there is any, from what my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) said was that the farmer could be construed as having a pecuniary interest, whereas on reflection I am sure you will agree that it is unworthy to suggest that a trade unionist would have a pecuniary interest in seeking to better the lot of fellow trade unionists. I think, Sir, you might reflect about this matter.

Mr. Speaker

I deprecate that interjection. I am prepared to have the matter discussed and perhaps I might have one or two things to say about it. It perhaps will not be inapposite on a matter which we shall be discussing later today. I tried to consider the constituencies represented by hon. Members and I sought to get a spread through the country. I do not think I have called only farmers, but it is a matter for me.

Mr. Huckfield

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I had no wish to cast aspersions upon the Chair. In fact the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Robert C. Brown) is an important one in that most trade-union-sponsored Members on this side of the House both make known their interest and frequently declare that they do not desire to hide their interest. But surely it is at odds with the traditions of this House for certain hon. Members on the Government benches to pose as defenders of the consumers when they happen to be farmers themselves?

Mr. Speaker

I certainly did take the hon. Gentleman's remark as a reflection upon the Chair suggesting that my discretion was unfairly affected by the occupations of those hon. Members on the Government benches whom I called. I was not aware that all of them were farmers, though that may be the position. I was considering their constituencies and their spread throughout the country, which is what I try to do on all occasions.

Mr. Peter Shore

We can see that farmers, both in this House and outside it, may get some short-term satisfaction from the catalogue of price increases to which the Minister has referred. But what joy is there for the housewife? Is not it the case that the high prices which the right hon. Gentleman announced are a reflection of the cost of inflation of the past year and are simply a prelude to further price increases to come in the years ahead?

Mr. Godber

The answer is "No". In my view the price increases announced here should stimulate increased production and thus be of direct help to the British housewife. It is the shortage of supplies which has put up prices, as the right hon Gentleman knows. The way to overcome that shortage is either to produce more here or to import more. We are importing wherever supplies are available, but to produce more is the surest way, and we should give our farmers the fullest support in doing that.

Following is the information:

Determinations for 1973–74
Guarantee levels for 1972–73 Guarantee levels for 1973–74
Commodity or production grant As determined in March 1972 after the Annual Review 1972 Change from col. (2) As determined after the Annual Review 1973
(1) (2) (3) (4)
Guaranteed prices:
Wheat (per ton) £34.40 +£2.30 £36.70
Barley (per ton) £31.20 +£2½00 £33.20
Oats (per ton) £30.20 +£1.80 £32.00
Potatoes (per ton) £16.55 +45p £17.00
Sugar beet (per ton) £8.00 equivalent to £6.71 on the new basis 26.5p £6.97
Fat sheep and lambs (per lb. estimated dressed carcase weight) 24.3p +2.2p 26.5p
Fat pigs (per score deadweight) £2.81 related to a feed price of £1.96 per cwt. On the basis of the current feed price this is equivalent to £3.24 +3p £3.27 related to a feed price of £2 53 per cwt.
Milk (per gallon) 23.lp +l.5p 24.6p
Eggs—hen (per dozen) 16.0p no change 16.0p
Eggs—duck (per dozen) 15.5p no change 15.5p
Wool (per lb.) 23.0p +2p 25p
Production grant
Calf subsidy—
per eligible steer £11.25 —£2.75 £8.50
per eligible heifer £9.00 —£2.50 £6.50

The basic rate of grant under the Farm Capital Grant Scheme is being reduced from 30 per cent. to 20 per cent. The change will apply to all new applications as from the day after the announcement

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