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Sustainable Agriculture

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list those (a) persons and (b) organisations who submitted responses to his Department's consultation on indicators for sustainable agriculture; and if he will make a statement. [67662]

Mr. Rooker: A list of the individuals and organisations who responded to my Department's consultation on a set of indicators for sustainable agriculture follows. Copies of the responses are available in the MAAF Main Library. These indicators are intended to complement the wider set of indicators on sustainable development for the UK which is being developed by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The aim is to publish the agriculture indicators as a pilot set later this year, and to develop them further over the next three to five years.

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    Cheshire County Council

    Consumers in Europe

    Consumers' Association

    Council for British Archaeology

    Council for the Protection of Rural England

    Country Landowners' Association

    Countryside Commission

    Countryside Council for Wales

    Cranfield University, Soil Survey and Land Research Centre

    Crofters Commission

    Dartmoor National Park Authority

    Elm Farm Research Centre

    English Heritage

    English Nature

    Environment Agency

    Farmers' Union of Wales

    Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group

    Fertiliser Manufacturers Association Ltd.

    Friends of the Earth

    Game Conservation Trust

    Green Adventure

    Historic Farm Buildings Group

    Institute of Arable Crops Research

    Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research

    Institute of Professional Soil Scientists

    Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology

    Isle of Man Government, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests

    Local Government Association

    National Consumer Council

    National Farmers' Union

    National Federation of Consumer Groups

    National Trust

    Natural Environment Research Council

    North York Moors National Park Authority (on behalf of the Association of National Park Authorities)

    Northern Ireland Environmental Link

    Pesticides Trust


    Royal Agricultural Society of England

    Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

    Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

    Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

    Royal Town Planning Institute

    Royal Welsh Agricultural Society Ltd.

    Rural Development Commission

    Rural, Agriculture and Allied Workers, TGWU

    SAFE Alliance

    Scottish Agricultural College

    Scottish Environmental Protection Agency

    Scottish Landowners' Federation

    Scottish Natural Heritage

    Soil Association

    Suffolk ACRE

    Tenant Farmers' Association

    Thames Water

    UKASTA Ltd.

    Ulster Wildlife Trust

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    University of Hertfordshire

    Watling Chase Community Forest (on behalf of Community Forests)

    Welsh Local Government Association

    Women's Farming Union

    Yorkshire Water.


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to increase the acreage of orchards in England. [68050]

Mr. Rooker: Decisions on the area to be cultivated are taken by growers in response to the needs of the market.

Meat Inspection

Mr. Gill: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food by what date the UK will be in full compliance with EU rules on meat inspection. [68128]

Mr. Rooker: Full compliance with EU rules on veterinary supervision in licensed meat plants in Great Britain is not possible in the short term, essentially because of a shortage of veterinarians willing to undertake meat hygiene work in the UK. It is not known how long it will take to achieve full compliance, as this will depend on the Meat Hygiene Service's ability to secure the services of additional Official Veterinary Surgeons, and on future changes in the size and structure of the meat industry. Therefore, it may be some years before the levels and frequency of veterinary supervision required by the EU meat hygiene Directives are achieved in all GB licensed meat plants.


Mr. Gill: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many abattoirs continue to operate under derogation for low throughput. [68130]

Mr. Rooker: At 1 January 1999, there were 210 permanently derogated (low throughput) slaughterhouses in England licensed to produce meat for sale for human consumption. Of these, 162 were red meat slaughterhouses and 48 were poultry slaughterhouses.

Pork Imports

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to introduce compulsory labelling for imported pork products which do not meet UK welfare, veterinary and feed standards. [68143]

Mr. Rooker: None; but I welcome the initiatives taken by many retailers to introduce voluntary labelling schemes giving consumers more information about rearing standards. My right hon. Friend the Minister has received assurances from the major supermarkets that all their own label fresh pork, bacon, ham, sausages and pork pies will come from stall and tether and meat and bone meal free production systems; also, they will not label as British processed products produced from imported fresh port.

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I am sure the launch earlier this month by the Meat and Livestock Commission of the quality pigmark scheme will help consumers to identify pigmeat products in the shops which have been produced to British standards.

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will estimate the annual tonnage of pork meat products entering the UK; and what estimate he has of the percentage of this imported meat which is produced from animals that would not meet UK (a) welfare, (b) veterinary and (c) feed regulation standards. [68142]

Mr. Rooker: In the five years 1994-98, the UK imported around 160,000 tonnes of pork on average every year from other EU member states (imports from third countries are minimal). All would have met EU welfare, veterinary and feed requirements. Since March 1996, the UK has not permitted mammalian meat and bone meal to be fed to farm animals, a ban which is not in place in all member states. Also, since 1 January 1999, the UK has had a ban on housing pigs in close confinement stall and tether systems; although it is impossible to say what proportion of imported pork has not met these production standards since their introduction, it is likely to be very small.

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what statutory provisions prevent the

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introduction of a ban on the import of pork products where the pork does not meet UK welfare, veterinary and feed regulation standards. [68161]

Mr. Rooker: Single Market Legislation and European Court of Justice Rulings protect the free circulation of goods in the EU. In areas where there is a common market, such as pigmeat, if products conform to EU requirements, individual member states cannot introduce a unilateral ban. In respect of third country trade, the World Trade Organisation Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures gives WTO members the right to take measures necessary for the protection of human, animal or plant life or health, provided that these are based on scientific principles and are not maintained without sufficient scientific evidence.

Welsh and English Lamb

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to assist Welsh and English lamb producers in meeting the demand for bulk food supplies. [68596]

Mr. Rooker: If there is a demand for bulk supplies of lamb, then it is surely a matter for the industry to find a means of supplying that demand.