HC Deb 25 February 1988 vol 128 cc311-2W
Mr. Austin Mitchell

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the EEC output of grain in each of the past 10 years; by how much production will have to rise above the 160 million tonne threshold to increase the burden on the EEC budget; what is the Government's forecast of (a) production and (b) production costs in each of the next five years when the price reduction has been triggered if rising yields per hectare are maintained; and what contribution the new arrangements are forecast to make to reducing agricultural surpluses.

Mr. MacGregor

[holding answer 18 February 1988]: Total production of cereals in the previous 10 years in the countries which now make up the European Community was as follows:

Million tonnes
1978–79 137.0
1979–80 132.7
1980–81 144.2
1981–82 134.3
1982–83 145.2
1983–84 138.2
1984–85 173.2
1985–86 160.5
1986–87 154.3
11987–88 153.1
1 Provisional.

The effect of increased levels of production on the EC budget would depend on a wide range of factors, including prices of cereals on world markets and the ECU-US dollar exchange rate.

The Government do not make forecasts of production or production costs on the basis requested by the hon. Member; I would, however, refer him to the reply I gave him on 22 February, at column 49.

The introduction of stabilisers for cereals will reduce the level of producers returns and so the incentive to produce cereals.

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