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Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of farm gate prices of farm produce are less than the cost of production. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 21 January 2002]: The cost of production and the farm gate price of any particular commodity vary from producer to producer and over time. It is not possible therefore to determine a fixed proportion of the farm gate price that is attributable to the cost of production. At the whole farm level, the incidence of selling at below the cost of production is indicated by data from the Farm Business Survey. They show the incidence of negative farm incomes, where total costs
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exceed total output from the farm. In 19992000, 36 per cent. of farms in the Farm Business Survey in England had negative net farm incomes.
Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why the sheep annual premium scheme application forms were changed between 2001 and 2002; how many farmers have made mistakes as a result of these changes; and whether farmers have been able to appeal against decisions based on incorrectly completed forms. 
Mr. Morley: The Sheep Annual Premium Scheme (SAPS) application forms are reviewed annually to take account of any regulatory changes, and to take account of comments from producers and to see if there is any way they can be simplified. There have been no major changes from the 2001, to the 2002 forms (such as the addition or deletion of questions), however minor amendments were made to the format and wording of some questions, to assist the industry. For the 2001 scheme there were approximately 30,000 SAPS claimants, each received a questionnaire in the literature pack and was invited to comment on the scheme literature. Around 20 per cent. of applicants took the opportunity to comment, and we used these comments when drafting the 2002 scheme literature, before sending the drafts out for industry consultation over the summer. As in the past the exercise will be repeated this year, although the 2003 scheme literature should change considerably, following the reform of the Sheepmeat regime, agreed in Brussels in December 2001. The reforms have simplified the scheme, and will give us the opportunity to thoroughly review the scheme literature (which has changed only gradually since 1992).
The application window for the 2002 scheme has just closed, as a result we will not know for some time (until the claims are processed in spring) how many producers have made errors on their application forms. Staff undertake an initial check of the application forms on receipt, and any obvious errors are brought to the attention of claimants, who then have the opportunity to amend their forms, until the extended deadline for the receipt of claims on 1 March 2002. In the case of errors discovered after 1 March, while the Commission recognise the concept of 'obvious errors' in relation to the completion of application forms, it does so in a very restrictive manner. Thus, while we can accept simple cases of clerical error (eg transcription of numbers; omission and inconsistencies) we cannot extend this approach to cover errors of substance.
Producers who make an error on their claim form which subsequently affects their payment are able to appeal to the office handling their claim. They may also write to the Rural Payments Agency's Customers Relations Manager, and are of course free to write to their MP, who in turn may refer their case to the relevant Minister, or the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.
Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list by administrative region in England and Wales the amounts
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paid to farmers in each of the last five years for (a) each CAP scheme and (b) UK schemes for which she is responsible. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 21 January 2002]: Pursuant to the right hon. Member's similar question answered on 11 January 2002, Official Report, column 1040W, to which I was only able to provide a holding answer, the amounts paid for CAP schemes in England, for the periods in question are now available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to encourage participation by her Department in Fair Trade Fortnight from 4 to 17 March. 
Mr. Morley: Campaigns, such as the annual Fair Trade Fortnight organised by the Fair Trade Foundation, help to raise consumer awareness of development issues in international trade as well as highlighting ways in which consumers can act to make a difference. The Department for International Development is providing £120,000 to the Fair Trade Foundation over three years (200103) in support of its efforts to target new groups through its annual Fair Trade Fortnight campaigns, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for International Development will be attending the launch of this year's campaign on 4 March 2002.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will provide funds to the Exmoor national park to help with the damage caused by foot and mouth disease. 
Alun Michael: For the coming financial year Exmoor national park will receive £2.93 million from Government, an increase of 13.6 per cent. on the current financial year. Considerable support has been given to rural communities to aid recovery following foot and mouth disease, including an £80 million business recovery fund and other forms of financial support which will have helped many businesses within national parks.
We are providing extra resources to all the national park authorities in England to help with the aftermath of the foot and mouth epidemic. We have already provided funds this year through the Countryside Agency to reopen rights of way in affected areas, including Exmoor.
We are confident that the resources provided will help the national parks promote a vigorous recovery in the countryside.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the time it takes for Environmentally sensitive areas payments to be made to farmers; and how many farmers are awaiting payment. 
Mr. Morley: The Department aims to pay valid claims under the ESA scheme within two months of their receipt. In the most recent payment round, 89 per cent. of claims under ESA management agreements had been authorised
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for payment by 31 January 2002. On that date, 702 claims were awaiting authorisation for payment and these should be processed shortly.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her plans for the provision of ESA payments. 
Mr. Morley: Proposed funding for the ESA scheme is set out in the England Rural Development Programme which covers the period 2000 to 2006. There are now 11,300 agreement holders under the scheme. The Department aims to make annual payments to them within two months of receiving valid claims.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many days were lost in strike action in her Department (a) in Somerset and Devon and (b) in the UK in 200001. 
Mr. Morley: There were no days lost through strike action throughout 200001 in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (then referred to as the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food).
During 200102, days lost due to strike action in the Department were (a) 2895 in offices in the counties of Somerset and Devon, (b) 16,201 in the UK overall.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list her Department's total expenditure by month in the financial years (a) 19992000 and (b) 200001. 
Mr. Morley: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury on 4 February 2002, Official Report, column 692W.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department has taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the (a) Disease Control System Database and (b) Veterinary Laboratory Agency foot and mouth disease case database. 
Mr. Morley: Quality assurance and validation processes have been built into the routine procedures for maintaining the accuracy and completeness of both databases. Detailed guidance and training is available to all relevant staff.
A quality assurance exercise of the data within DCS is currently being carried out and whilst this is ongoing, figures extracted from DCS may be subject to revision as more information becomes available.
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