HC Deb 11 May 1987 vol 116 c114W
Sir Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures the Government have taken since 1979 to support the agricultural industry.

Mr. Jopling

[pursuant to his reply, 8 May 1987]: The Government came to power committed to the nondiscriminatory reform of the common agricultural policy as offering the best prospect for the long term stability of the agriculture industry. We have consistently and successfully pursued this aim.

In this and other contexts we have:

  • —retained the beef variable premium.
  • —resisted proposals to limit eligibility for ewe premium.
  • —doubled the suckler cow subsidy.
  • —extended the less favoured areas to include marginal land, making hill livestock compensatory allowances and higher rates of capital grants available to an additional 36,000 holdings.
  • —paid special weather aid of £16.9 million to 60,000 livestock producers most seriously affected by the bad summer weather in 1985.
  • —passed the Agricultural Holdings Act 1984 which, with other measures, was consolidated by the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 facilitating the letting of agricultural land.
  • —maintained a major commitment to expenditure on Research and Development, currently £170 million per year.
  • —introduced a new farm capital grant scheme to implement the EEC Regulation on improving agricultural structures, with a premium for young farmers.
  • —negotiated in Brussels and introduced in the United Kingdom arrangements for protecting environmentally sensitive areas.
  • —achieved agreement at the Agriculture Council in December 1986 under United Kingdom presidency on reforms on the CAP milk and beef regimes and on a package of structural measures.
  • —announced a package of measures providing for a new scheme to promote planting of farm woodlands, an expansion of traditional forestry; a widening of the scale of, and scope for, diversification of farms; a doubling of the resources devoted to environmentally sensitive areas; an increased emphasis in research and advice on possibilities for novel crops and livestock.