HC Deb 09 December 1929 vol 233 cc56-8W

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the importance which the Government attach to the development of organisation for the efficient marketing of agricultural produce, he will give special attention to this aspect of marketing reform as well as to the extension of schemes of standardising, grading, and marking?


The answer is in the affirmative. I consider that there is very considerable scope and need for investigation of the organisation aspect of the marketing problem, and I am able to announce that the funds at present at the disposal of the Ministry for marketing investigation work, which amount to £40,000 a year, will be augmented by an additional annual grant of £12,000 which will be used for the purpose of approaching the problems of marketing organisation on the lines already followed so successfully in the sphere of standardising, grading and marking. As an immediate step to encourage the development of co-operative marketing, the Government have decided to ease the conditions under which loans are made to co-operative enterprises, by extending, where necessary, the initial free-of-interest period from two to five years and by introducing terms of repayment which will be less burdensome in the early years of a loan.


asked the Minister of Agriculture what progress is being made with the grading and marketing of agricultural produce; the number of grading and packing stations; and the agricultural products now handled in this manner?


The provisions of the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act, 1928, have so far been applied to the following products, the chronological order being:

  1. (1) Apples and pears.
  2. (2) Eggs.
  3. (3) Cornish broccoli for export.
  4. (4) Tomatoes and cucumbers.
  5. (5) Wheat flour.
  6. (6) Beef.
  7. (7) Malt products.

While a number of National Mark Schemes have hardly been in existence long enough to allow of final judgment, there is no doubt that some of the earlier schemes are now firmly established in the sphere of agricultural marketing. Definite progress is also being made in the case of the more recent schemes despite initial difficulties which are being gradually overcome. The numbers of packers at present authorised in the existing schemes are:

Apples 70
Pears 9
Eggs 160
Tomatoes 77
Cucumbers 24
Wheat flour 158
Malt products 31

The Broccoli export scheme is seasonal and will come into operation again in January, 1930. Under the Beef scheme, which is still in an experimental stage, the grading is done by the Ministry's officers. Schemes for other home-produced commodities are under consideration.


asked the Minister of Agriculture what has been the result of the grading and marketing of eggs under the organisation of the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act, 1928; whether the producers of eggs have received higher prices; and how the import of eggs from other countries has been affected?


The following results may be definitely attributed to the National Mark Scheme for eggs intro- duced under the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act, 1928:

  1. (i) The statutory standards of weight and quality for home-produced eggs are now widely recognised and accepted.
  2. (ii) The level of egg marketing technique has been greatly improved, especially in relation to candling, and methods of grading and packing.
  3. (iii) National Mark eggs have secured the premier position above all other eggs M the large wholesale markets.
  4. (iv) National Mark eggs have secured entry into quarters where previously dependence was largely placed upon imported eggs.
  5. (v) The distributive trades have recognised the advantages of standardised quality and packing, with continuity of supply, now offered by National Mark eggs.
  6. (vi) The production of eggs in this country has been encouraged and the numbers of fowls on farms largely increased, with corresponding benefit to agricultural employment.

I may add that the prices realised by egg producers for most of their output have been rather higher in 1929 than in 1928, while the number of eggs imported during the 10 months ended 31st October fell by more than 200,000,000 (or 8 per cent.) as compared with the same period in 1928.