HC Deb 18 June 1997 vol 296 c220W
Mr. Martyn Jones

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the application of the early marketing and the calf processing schemes within the United Kingdom beef sector. [3925]

Mr. Rooker

Under EU law, member states must operate either the Calf Processing Scheme (CPAS) or the Early Marketing Scheme for veal, or both. The aim of both schemes is to reduce oversupply on the EU beef market following a decline in consumption. The UK has opted for the CPAS because it more directly tackles the problem of the sudden loss of markets for UK calves following the imposition of the beef export ban. As at 13 June 1997, a total of 636,471 calves had been slaughtered of which 597,044 were dairy and 39,427 non-dairy breeds.

Mr. Letwin

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the advantages of giving special compensation for lowland beef farmers. [3924]

Mr. Rooker

All beef producers have been affected in varying degrees by the current low market price for finished cattle. Thus all producers, regardless of their geographical location or farming system, would urge the case for affording them special assistance. In considering any case put to us for such assistance, the Government have to be mindful of the tight constraints which currently apply to public expenditure and the extent to which the provision of such assistance would distort the proper functioning of the market. Such distortion might simply insulate producers from the realities of the market-place and encourage unrealistic expectations of the level of future returns.

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