HC Deb 04 November 1998 vol 318 cc609-10W
14. Mr. Paterson

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the state of Welsh agriculture. [56590]

Mr. Jon Owen Jones

The current problems in farming bring into sharp focus the need for Welsh agriculture to adapt. Our aim is to create a viable future for agriculture and encourage economic growth in rural Wales.

18. Mr. Dafis

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the(a) economic and (b) social effect of the current crisis in Welsh agriculture. [56594]

Mr. Jon Owen Jones

The Welsh Office are currently preparing forecasts for hill farming incomes in 1997–98 as part of the annual review of economic conditions in the hills and uplands. It is intended that this information will be made available in a press notice shortly.

An assessment of incomes for those not fanning in the hills will be made during the next two months and will be published in the New Year.

I recognise the importance of agriculture to rural Wales. Agriculture is estimated to contribute directly about 8 per cent. to total employment in the less favoured areas (LFA). Agriculture also indirectly supports jobs in other industries; and published studies suggest that in the LFA every 10 full-time jobs in agriculture support approximately a further 4 jobs in related industries.