§ 9. Mr. Geraint Howells
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans to stimulate the beef breeding herd in Wales; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Nicholas Edwards
Beef producers' returns have improved considerably during the 1981–82 marketing year. Support measures for the beef industry are currently being reviewed as part of the CAP price-fixing negotiations.
§ Mr. Howells
Will the Secretary of State explain why the Government have not paid the extra £29.37 per cow to Welsh beef producers for last year?
§ Mr. Edwards
As the hon. Gentleman is aware, we pay substantial grants to Welsh producers and there has been a sharp improvement in returns to beef producers during the past year. The average market price for fat cattle is now 21 per cent. up on last year, and there is a considerable improvement in the market.
§ Mr. Hooson
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind when the discussions take place on the future support for beef that this is the weakest element in the hill and marginal farm economy?
§ Mr. Edwards
I understand the importance of this sector, but, as I said, there has been a notable improvement, and prices at the 1981 autumn suckled calf sales were up 20 to 25 per cent. Those are substantially above the increase in input prices during the same period. We are seeing a considerable improvement.