§ Mr. Gerry Fowler
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the outcome of the 1978 Annual Review of Agriculture.
§ Mr. John Silkin
Agricultural production in 1977 made a dramatic recovery from the setbacks caused by the weather in the two preceding years. Net product is expected to have recovered from the very low level caused by the drought in 1976 almost to the level of the previous best year of 1974. The aggregate net income of the industry, excluding stock appreciation, is expected to have risen from £1,158 million in 1976 to £1,348 million in 1977. Aggregate cost increases, at £322.5 million, are substantially below the £895 million recorded at the last review. There has been a further small fall in the volume of new investment. The improvement in output and income has resulted to a large extent from the effect of the better weather, particularly on the production of milk and cereals, but the recovery illustrates the underlying strength of the industry which offers a sound basis for some further expansion in future years.
The White Paper deals only with the economic condition of the industry, decisions on levels of agricultural support for 1978–79 under EEC and national arrangements will be announced separately in due course.