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Beef Farming

19. Mr. Flight: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the economic prospects for the beef farming sector in the next twelve months. [113388]

Ms Quin: Assessment of the economic prospects for the beef farming sector is an ongoing exercise and the profitability of the sector is monitored by officials on a regular basis.

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Exchange Rate

20. Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent assessment he has made of the impact of the value of the pound on the UK's agricultural sector. [113389]

Ms Quin: There is no doubt that the strength of sterling has contributed toward the present depressed state of farm incomes. Oversupply and weak prices in world commodity markets have also been important factors.

Bee Diseases

23. Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food pursuant to his answer of 29 November 1999, Official Report, column 20W, on bee diseases, what progress he has made in containing bee diseases, with special reference to the area next to the Scottish border. [113393]

Ms Quin: Measures to control bee diseases in areas close to the Scottish border are no different from elsewhere in England. The incidence of foulbrood in the border counties is low, with only one case in 1999. An advisory programme is in place to help beekeepers minimise the impact of varroosis.

Farm Incomes

24. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met the farming unions to discuss the current levels of income in each sector of agriculture; and if he will make a statement. [113394]

Ms Quin: My right hon. Friend, the Minister's most recent meeting with the President of the NFU was on 22 February. My right hon. Friend and other MAFF Ministers are in frequent contact with the farming unions to discuss farming issues.

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Organic Farming

27. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received supporting the setting of targets to increase the level of conversions to organic farming. [113397]

Mr. Morley: I have received about 60 letters in support of the setting of targets. I have met my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock) and the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler), with representatives of "Sustain", to discuss the Organic Food and Farming Targets Bill.


Mr. Hope: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent assistance the Government have provided to the Meat and Livestock Commission for the promotion of pork. [113379]

Mr. Morley: The Government have agreed to fund half of a £4.6 million welfare linked pork promotion campaign developed by the Meat and Livestock Commission.

Funding Schemes

Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the funding schemes administered by his Department, indicating the total funds of each scheme and the administration costs of each scheme as a percentage of the total funds. [112495]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 2 March 2000]: Information relating administration costs to expenditure by scheme is not available from existing cash-based systems. However, using information drawn from the 1998-99 Shadow Resource Accounts for the Department, the total cost of departmental objectives and the percentage that relates to administration costs are as follows:

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£ million
MAFF objectiveTotal costAdministration costPercentage
To protect public health in relation to food and animal diseases transmissible to humans275.322682.1
To sustain and enhance the rural and marine environments and public enjoyment of the amenities they provide and to promote forestry101.339.939.4
To secure a more economically rational CAP which gives a better deal to consumers and taxpayers and pays due regard to the needs of the environment72.62.73.7
To assist the development of efficient markets in which internationally competitive food, fish and agricultural industries can thrive215.193.343.4
To enhance economic opportunity and social development in rural and coastal communities in a manner consistent with public enjoyment of the amenities which they offer9.82.828.6
To administer payments under the CAP fairly and in full accordance with EU requirements(11)1,690.670.542.
To conserve fish stocks for future generations and secure a sustainable future for the sea fishing industry37.120.254.4
To ensure that farmed animals and fish are protected by high welfare standards and do not suffer unnecessary pain or distress15.8850.6
To reduce risk to people and the developed and natural environment from flooding and coastal erosion73.65.16.9
To safeguard the continuing availability to the consumer of adequate supplies of wholesome, varied and reasonably priced food and drink3.51.542.9

(11) Includes receipts from the EU

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Pig Farmers

Mr. Cox: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much was paid in subsidies to pig farmers in the UK for the year 1999. [113082]

Ms Quin: The CAP pigmeat regime contains no provision for paying subsidies direct to pig farmers. However, the European Commission spent over £200 million in 1999 supporting the pigmeat market, by the use of export refunds and aids to private storage.


Joan Ruddock: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what advice he has received regarding use of Lindane since the meeting of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides in York on 24 February; and when he expects a decision to be announced. [113616]

Ms Quin [holding answer 9 March 2000]: At its meeting on 24 February the Advisory Committee on Pesticides considered an evaluation of scientific data concerning the exposure to lindane of members of the public using lindane products in their gardens for controlling garden pests. The Committee concluded that these pose no unacceptable risk and have recommended that approvals for this particular use should continue. The Committee also suggested a number of steps that might be taken to improve the packaging of such products to minimise any potential risks in their usage. The Committee's recommendations are currently being considered by Ministers who will announce their conclusions shortly.

Farm Subsidies (Shropshire)

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many farmers in (a) Shrewsbury and Atcham and (b) Shropshire received subsidy payments in each £10,000 band up to £100,000 in the last year for which information is available; and if he will make a statement. [114687]

Ms Quin [holding answer 14 March 2000]: The figures for Shrewsbury and Atcham could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The figures for 1998 subsidy payments (UK and EU contributions) in Shropshire are as follows:

Up to £10,0001,990

Agri-environmental Schemes

Mrs. Dean: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much his Department has spent on agri-environmental schemes in the financial year to date; and how much was spent in 1996-97. [113376]

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Mr. Nick Brown: Payments to farmers under agri- environmental schemes in England were £44.4 million in the 1996-97 financial year and are expected to be £87.4 million in 1999-2000. This is an increase of 97 per cent. over the three year period. Our target this year for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme is to enter into around 3,000 new agreements compared to around 1,300 in 1999.

"Agriculture in the United Kingdom"

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects the latest volume of "Agriculture in the United Kingdom" to be published. [115480]

Mr. Nick Brown: "Agriculture in the United Kingdom 1999" was published today and copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

Flood Defence

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his response to the Flood Defence Emergency Response Project, established by the Environment Agency. [115481]

Mr. Morley: The Flood Defence Emergency Response (FDER) Project was established by the Environment Agency as part of its response to the Easter 1998 floods. Membership of the Project Team comprised representatives of the Environment Agency, the Local Government Association, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Chief and Assistant Chief Fire Officers Association and the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities, represented by British Waterways.

The Project's general remit was to review existing local arrangements for responding to and exercising major flooding emergencies; to make recommendations for improvement; and to define the roles of the organisations involved.

I have seen the FDER Project Report and the Project team is to be congratulated on its positive contribution in helping to bring about improvements to the arrangements for flood emergency response. It is important that its recommendations are implemented at local level by the organisations involved in emergency response. I am not, however, persuaded that it is appropriate to establish a standing National Joint Strategic Flood Group in the terms described.

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