HC Deb 16 October 1996 vol 282 cc944-5W
Mr. Nicholas Baker

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he is taking to reduce the backlog of cull cattle under the 30-month scheme in Dorset. [41217]

Mr. Baldry

A telephone survey of producers carried out by my Department and those in Wales and Northern Ireland revealed a much larger backlog of animals awaiting entry to the 30-month scheme than we had previously estimated. It also showed that some areas, including the south-west of England, were much more seriously affected than others. The Intervention Board is taking urgent steps to increase the weekly slaughter from a level at the end of August of about 23,000 animals a week to 55,000 as quickly as possible. A new rendering mix will allow more animals to be slaughtered for a given amount of rendering capacity by consigning more material to cold store. More cold storage space is being contracted and the renderers are making significantly greater capacity available from next week. About 42,000 animals are expected to be slaughtered this week and the number is planned to increase to more than 50,000 next week. In increasing abattoir allocations, the Intervention Board is giving priority to those serving markets and producers in the particularly disadvantaged areas including those in Dorset.