HC Deb 20 March 1986 vol 94 cc251-2W
Mr. Roger King

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has determined the market support prices for potatoes to apply in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland for the 1986–87 crop year beginning on 1 July.

Mr. Gummer

Following consultations with the farmers unions we have decided to authorise the Potato Marketing Board to enter into pre-season contracts with producers to purchase up to 365,000 tonnes of potatoes over the months November 1986 to May 1987 at a scale of prices not to exceed an average of £53 per tonne. We have also agreed that the board can intervene directly on the market throughout the season where this will ensure support more cheaply than purchases under contract, provided that the total intervention does not exceed 500,000 tonnes. The target area for potato plantings in Great Britain, another important factor in market stability, was fixed last July at 158,000 hectares.

The maximum target price for Northern Ireland for the 1986–87 season will be £46 per tonne. The target area for Northern Ireland plantings is 12,750 hectares and the ceiling for any support operations is 60,000 tonnes.

I believe that these arrangements are sufficient to provide a reasonable level of fall-back support in the event of surplus production arising in 1986–87. We have, however, approved increases in PMB direct intervention trigger prices for the period April to June inclusive to bring them into a more realistic relationship with the board's contract prices. Producers themselves can, of course, make a positive contribution to market equilibrium by avoiding over-planting and I hope that they will do so.

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