Mr. Andy Stewart
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures are available to help milk producers the fat content of whose milk was abnormally low in 1985–86 and who as a result face a disproportionate penalty under the milk quota system.
§ Mr. Jopling
The milk quota rules on penalties for increases in butterfat which came into effect last October introduced a fixed base year of 1985–86. This created particular difficulty for producers whose fat content had been unusually low that year. I am pleased to say that following our representations the European Commission has recognised this problem and has now made provision for member states to allow an alternative prior base year in cases where the fat content was affected by an exceptional event. I believe this will be of very considerable assistance to many milk producers. We are discussing the implementation of this measure with the industry and full details will be announced in due course.