HC Deb 16 January 1989 vol 145 cc53-4W
Sir Eldon Griffiths

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, what is his estimate of the loss to cereal farmers arising from reduced sales to chicken and egg producers as a result of the recent fall in demand for eggs; and what plans he has to compensate feed wheat growers for this loss.

Mr. Ryder

There is no evidence that the recent fall in demand for eggs has had a significant effect on the ex-farm price of wheat. The level of ex-farm prices is determined by the level of demand in the market as a whole, including demand for exports, and not by demand in any particular sector.

Mr. Allen

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take steps to introduce clearer markings on eggs or egg containers to indicate to consumers whether the egg was produced by battery or free range methods.

Mr. Donald Thompson

Eggs produced under alternative systems are already marketed in packs bearing the terms "free-range eggs", "semi-intensive eggs", "perchery eggs (barn eggs)" or "deep litter eggs". Consumers may reasonably assume that packs not carrying one of these terms contain eggs which have been produced in a battery.

Dr. David Clark

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the European Community has given approval for the introduction of the aid scheme to the egg industry announced on 19 December 1988; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. MacGregor

Before introducing these measures, I explained to Mr. Andriessen (then Commissioner for Agriculture) the exceptional occurrences which necessitated them. I have since sent the Commission details of the schemes, which the Government consider to fall within the terms of article 92(2)(b) of the treaty of Rome.

Mr. Ron Davies

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many egg packers have received compensation under the scheme he announced on 19th December 1988; what have been the maximum and minimum levels of compensation; what has been the average compensation payment; and what is the total amount of compensation paid to date.

Mr. Ryder

[holding answer 13 January 1989]: So far 221 payments totalling £482,450 have been made to egg packers in the United Kingdom. Payments ranged from £90 to £45,810 with an average of £2,183. A considerable number of applications have yet to be processed to the payment stage.

Mr. Ron Davies

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many inspections of poultry farms in each of the last five years revealed salmonella enteritidis in the laying stock; and how many revealed salmonella strains other than salmonella enteritidis.

Mr. Donald Thompson

[holding answer 13 January 1989]: The Zoonoses Order 1975 requires isolations of salmonella including in laying flocks to be reported. During 1988 there were 20 reports of the isolation of salmonella enteritidis in commercial table egg producing flocks. It is not possible to identify separately how many isolations of salmonella in laying flocks other than salmonella enteritidis were reported in 1988.

As regards comparable information for previous years it is not available without disproportionate cost.