HC Deb 02 November 2000 vol 355 cc620-2W
Mr. Win Griffiths

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list chronologically the actions taken since 1997 to provide support for farmers, by way of(a) extra cash, (b) policy initiatives and (c) promotion of agricultural products. [135393]

Ms Quin

The Government are committed to developing a framework within which the farming industry can continue to adapt to change. Since May 1997, we have introduced a number of policy measures, injecting £670 million (excluding agrimonetary aid) into the industry. These measures include:

Early 1998

We introduced several initiatives offering extra support to farmers, not all of which cost money, but which in total were worth more than £150 million to the industry. We:

  1. (i) paid £85 million in agrimonetary compensation to suckler cow and sheep producers at the beginning of the year;
  2. (ii) supported the introduction of an EU private storage aid scheme for pigmeat in the face of a fall of about 50 per cent. in the producer price of pigs. Additional action was taken in Northern Ireland;
  3. (iii) relaxed rules on the moisture content of cereals eligible for purchase intervention, in recognition of the difficulties caused to cereals producers by the wet summer;
  4. (iv) successfully lobbied the EC to grant two blocks of private storage aid for sheepmeat to help move lamb on the market. With effect from 8 October we removed the obstacles to the export of whole sheep carcases to France;
  5. (v) successfully negotiated the introduction of the Export Certified Herds Scheme in Northern Ireland;
  6. (vi) persuaded the EC to increase beef premium advances from 60 per cent. to 80 per cent.;
  7. (vii) met the costs for one year of Meat Hygiene Service enforcement of controls on specified risk material from cattle and sheep;
  8. (viii) met the start up and first year running costs of the new Cattle Tracing System.

16 November 1998

Announcement of a further aid package of £120 million, to provide:

  1. (i) extra agrimonetary compensation in the form of supplementary payments under the Suckler Cow Premium Scheme;
  2. (ii) increased payments under the Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances Scheme (£60 million);
  3. (iii) extension of the Calf Processing Scheme until the end of the financial year.

July 1999

We successfully negotiated the introduction of the Date-Based Export Scheme for eligible British beef from 1 August.

20 September 1999

£150 million in new money announced:

  1. (i) £89 million in deferral of charges for inspections of specified risk material from cattle and sheep carcases and for cattle passports until 2002–03;
  2. (ii) £60 million in HLCA;
  3. (iii) £1 million in marketing support.

28 October 1999

Announcement of £15 million in new money:

  1. (i) £5 million in marketing support;
  2. (ii) £10 million for organic farming;


  1. (iii) Review of regulatory burdens in agriculture: three industry-led working groups reported in December 1999 on three priority areas identified by the industry: IACS and Inspections, Intervention and Meat Hygiene and Slaughterhouse Rules. Government accepted 98 of the 107 recommendations made. In addition a number of other 622W issues identified for review have been considered in bilateral discussions between MAFF and industry. Implementation of the recommendations is a priority under the Action Plan for Farming.

1 December 1999

We pegged Meat Hygiene Charges: charges for 1999-2000 held at 1998–99 levels.

7 December 1999

Announced 'New Direction for Agriculture', including £1.6 billion (over seven years) England and Rural Development Plan. £300 million of which is new money. The Plan (now 'Programme') was approved by the European Commission's Star Committee in September 2000, and launched on 3 October 2000.

1 February 2000

Original labels on food: Following consultation, tough new guidance notes were issued on 1 February to industry and enforcement authorities. These make clear the need to ensure origin labels on food are unambiguous. They emphasise the need to pay special attention to the wording of origin and other declarations when the country of final processing of a food and the source of its main ingredients may be confused.

30 March 2000

Farming Summit: The Government launched the Action Plan for Farming, supported by £200 million. The Plan will provide financial relief to the hardest-hit sectors to help ease the process of change. Other commitments are directed towards rural development and diversification, better regulation, improved food chain co-operation, making the best of IT opportunities and continued commitment to CAP reform.

The 2000 Spending Review provides a further £300 million to carry forward initiatives under the plan over the next three years.