HC Deb 12 November 1998 vol 319 cc313-4W
24. Sir Teddy Taylor

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the over-production of food within the EU; and what are the latest figures for the cost of dumping surpluses and destroying food. [58067]

Mr. Rooker

The Common Agricultural Policy has had the effect of encouraging agricultural production within the EU, with surplus production either being stored or sold on world markets. It is however difficult to estimate what proportion of current agricultural production is directly attributable to the CAP. As far as the destruction of surplus food is concerned, I refer the hon. Member to the answer of 8 June 1998,Official Report, column 455, which stated that the total sum spent on withdrawals of fruit and vegetables from the market in 1997 was 293 mecu (£213m at an average 1997 exchange rate of £1 = 1.3758 ecu). Statistics on the destination of produce withdrawn in 1997 are not available, but an average 62 per cent. of withdrawn fruit and vegetables was destroyed between the 1989–90 and 1993–94 marketing years. In addition, £1.5m was spent on the disposal of 6,000 tonnes of intervention beef in 1997. This beef was purchased and stored before the restrictions on beef from animals over 30 months old were introduced in March 1996.