§ Mr. Charles Morrison
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has anything to add to his statement of 24th July 1973 about agricultural and horticultural marketing.
§ Mr. Anthony Stodart
Yes, Sir. Over the last few months detailed discussions have taken place between officials of the 229W Agricultural Departments and the producer organisations, represented by the steering group of BAMDO. These discussions have been concerned with how the arrangements outlined in my right hon. Friend's statement of 24th July should be implemented so as to achieve the new impetus which the Government and the producer organisations want to see put into improved marketing.
The Government have now decided that the Central Council for Agricultural and Horticultural co-operation should be strengthened by establishing within it a marketing unit. This new unit will be concerned with examining what markets want and what outlets there are for individual commodities. This information will be assembled through direct inquiries carried out by the staff of the unit and from developing contacts with processors, merchants and others concerned in the industry. It will be used to guide the development staff in the field who are directly concerned with promoting and developing improvements in co-operative marketing. Development work should, in this way, become more closely orientated to market needs, to the advantage not only of producers but also of users and consumers. The Government want to involve the producer organisations themselves closely in the effort to improve marketing: so, in order to bring them directly into their new aspect of the work of the central council, the producer organisations will be nominating members to a market policy committee which will guide the work of the new marketing unit. The budget of the unit will be settled by the council in consultation with the committee.
The Government have also decided to strengthen and fortify the development of co-operation in marketing. This is to be done by making funds available to Agricultural Co-operation and Marketing Services Ltd. and the agricultural organisation societies through the central council, so that these organisations can employ additional field staff. Funds will also be provided to develop the legal and accounting advice available to the development staff.
To implement these arrangements, the Government will be asking Parliament to approve an increase in the funds available to the central council to over £600,000 in the first year of operation. 230W This would be in addition to expenditure on grants. The central council will devote the major part of its improved resources to the development of marketing, in particular to supporting the ACMS and the agricultural organisation societies. My right hon. Friends and I hope that this new initiative on marketing will thrive and grow. If it does, the Government will be very ready to consider increasing their contribution to it. Its attitude is bound to be influenced by the willingness shown by producers' organisations to back their faith in what is now being started by themselves contributing to the additional resources required.
The Commission of the European Communities is being informed of these arrangements, as required by Article 93 of the Treaty of Rome.