§ Mr. William Edwards
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will enumerate the financial benefits under present policy which farmers of marginal land and small farmers receive which do not apply to other farmers.
§ Mr. John Mackie
The following are the special financial benefits available 105W in England and Wales to farmers of marginal land and to small farmers.
In hill areas hill cow subsidy at the rate of £13 per cow is available as is hill sheep subsidy at a standard rate of 19s. per ewe (or for some ewes at a reduced rate of 9s. 6d.). There is also a winter keep supplement of £5 per cow and 3s. 6d. for each ewe.
Improvement grants at preferential rates are available to farmers on land situated in hill areas which is inherently suitable for rearing cattle and sheep but not to any material extent for dairying, fattening or cash cropping. The Government have announced their intention of introducing a scheme under Clause 40 of the Agriculture Bill now before Parliament to provide 50 per cent. grants for improvements which will increase the productivity of such hill land; and of paying a 10 per cent. supplement on the existing field drainage grant where it would benefit such land. In the meantime grants are being paid at the rate of 50 per cent. of approved cost under the Hill Farming and Livestock Rearing Acts, 1946–1959 on improvements in comprehensive schemes submitted down to November, 1963.
There is also a Small Farm (Business Management) Scheme which is available for farms of between 20 and 125 acres of crops and grass with a labour requirement of 250–600 standard man days. Over a three-year period grants within a maximum of £1,000 may be earned by carrying out a programme designed to increase the efficiency of the enterprise. Other farmers are benefiting under the Small Farmer Scheme whereby business and field husbandry grants to a maximum of £1,000 are being paid for programmes submitted down to 31st December, 1965. Under the provisions of the Agriculture Bill the Government also propose to introduce a grant for small farmers who undertake a joint business plan on the lines indicated in the White Paper "The Development of Agriculture".
Grassland which is at least 12 years old may attract a ploughing grant of £12 per acre where expenditure which is substantially heavier than normal is required to bring it into a state of cleanliness, fertility and fitness for cropping.