HC Deb 04 February 1982 vol 17 cc529-30
6. Mr. Iain Mills

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of total United Kingdom animal compound and processed feeding stuffs is supplied by home production.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

In 1980 it is estimated that 70 per cent. by weight of the raw material content of total deliveries of concentrated feeding stuffs was home-produced.

Mr. Mills

I thank my right hon. Friend for his encouraging answer, but will he see my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and tell him that this is a most important area for future job creation? Is he aware that it is more attractive than the cosmetic schemes put forward by the Opposition and the somewhat futile protests of the Social Democratic Party? Does he agree that public expenditure on huge schemes might be better put into encouragement of home-grown feeding stuffs?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The benefit of using homegrown feeding stuffs and food that is genuinely produced from domestic resources is evident to the agriculture industry. I wish to pay tribute to our compounding and milling industry for the use that it makes of home-grown raw materials.

Mr. Body

How many of the 60,000 farmers who have gone out of business since we went over to import levies were livestock farmers who could not compete with the artificially increased prices of compounds of the sort that we have just heard recommended? Is my right hon. Friend aware that we could buy the feeding stuffs much more cheaply if we were allowed to buy maize and feed wheat elsewhere?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I agree with my hon. Friend only to the extent that it is important within the Community to have a better balance between cereal and livestock prices. I am glad that we have got that message over to the Community and that it is part of the proposals before us in this round of price-fixing.

I do not accept what my hon. Friend said about the numbers of livestock producers who have gone out of business because of our entry into the Common Market. I hope that he will talk to some livestock producers, who show extreme reluctance towards the overtures of some of those who believe that we should take Britain out of the European Community.