HC Deb 01 November 1979 vol 972 cc1435-7
16. Mr. Michael Brown

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he intends to meet the president of the National Farmers' Union.

Mr. Peter Walker

This afternoon, Sir.

Mr. Brown

When my right hon. Friend meets the president of the NFU later this afternoon, will he give him some indication of what encouragement may be given to the British livestock farmer who has undoubtedly suffered in recent months as a result of unacceptable imports of meat from Common Market countries, particularly Denmark?

Mr. Walker

Regarding imports from Denmark, particularly pig meat, the British industry has responded well and prices have improved tolerably well in the last few months. I hope that situation will continue.

In other spheres of the livestock market, hill farmers had a particularly bad time during the past winter. That situation is being reviewed and I shall make an announcement on it later in November.

Mr. Allen McKay

When the right hon. Gentleman next meets the president of the NFU, will he discuss with him the problem of green top milk; and will he make a statement about its future?

Mr. Walker

I have already discussed this matter with the president of the NFU and with other members. We shall be making a statement on this matter in the near future.

Mr. John Wells

When my right hon. Friend meets the president of the NFU, will he speak to him about the importance of the problems of English apple growers? Will he ensure that the NFU takes on board the need for greater expenditure on publicity to promote British apples to combat the seemingly unfair competition that we are suffering?

Mr. Walker

Yes. I am anxious that we should improve the marketing and expansion of the British apple industry. The people I have appointed to look into marketing have given this area priority and are dealing with it now. I hope that, as a result, we shall improve not only our production methods in certain areas, but, perhaps more important, our marketing.

Mr. Crowther

Will the right hon. Gentleman be discussing the possible damage to the dairy farming industry which may result from the proposal in the Education Bill to relieve education authorities of the duty to provide school milk—a relief which will no doubt be grasped eagerly by those tight-fisted authorities which want to save money rather than protect the health of children? Therefore, will he suggest to his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science that that proposal should be dropped?

Mr. Walker

No, Sir.

Mr. John Carlisle

When my right hon. Friend meets the president of the NFU, will he confirm or deny recent newspaper reports that he is about to seek a devaluation of the green pound?

Mr. Walker

I assure the House that I shall never mention that I am about to consider devaluing the green pound. All that happens in such circumstances is that a substantial volume of foreign butter comes into this country to the detriment of British butter producers.