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2 Dec 2002 : Column 494Wcontinued
Joyce Quin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many applications and how much money was awarded under the non-food crops scheme broken down by Government Office Regions in each year since the scheme was introduced. 
Mr. Meacher: In the non-food crops sector the only support scheme currently run by this Department is the Energy Crops Scheme. This provides assistance for farmers through establishment grants for short rotation coppice (SRC) and miscanthus, and funding for SRC growers to set up producer groups. Details of the applications received and grants issued for each financial year since the scheme came into force in October 2000 are as follows:
|Government office region||Number of applications received||Total value of grants issued (£)||Number of applications received||Total value of grants issued (£)||Number of applications received||Total value of grants issued (£)|
|East of England||5||||19||61,220||8||14,280|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||13||||4||61,810||1||35,740|
In some cases, grants are paid in the year following receipt of the application.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the average cost was of a (a) conventionally and (b) organically produced (i) turkey, (ii) chicken, (iii) duck in (A) 1979, (B) 1985, (C) 1990, (D) 1995, (E) 2000 and (F) 2002; 
Mr. Meacher: Average UK farmgate prices for conventionally produced commodities are given in the following table.
|Average farmgate price||1979||1985||1990||1995||2000||2002 (January to October)|
|Turkey (p/kg carcase weight)||N/a||141.1||120.5||124.3||129.6||116.4|
|Chicken and other table fowl (p/kg carcase weight)||N/a||89.5||87.0||84.0||70.8||67.7|
|Chicken and other table fowl (Price £ per bird)||N/a||1.37||1.33||1.30||1.10||1.07|
|Duck (p/kg carcase weight)||N/a||157.8||120.7||140.4||170.3||167.3|
|Peas for market (£/tonne)||N/a||252.90||515.66||453.29||567.24||567.83|
|Peas for processing (£/tonne)||N/a||216.74||217.24||203.30||255.58||254.47|
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The following tables provide the estimates for organically produced commodities as published by the Soil Association in their organic food and farming report. Data is only available for 1998 onwards.
|Price £ per bird|
(5) Mainly chicken
(6) Price per individual cauliflower
Mangetout data is not available
Mr. David Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her target is for making payments under (a) the Vocational Training Scheme and (b) the Rural Enterprise Scheme; what proportion of payments meet those targets; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: The Rural Development Service has responsibility for processing and authorising claims made under the Vocational Training Scheme and the Rural Enterprise Scheme. For both schemes the aim is to pay all complete claims, ie those submitted with the appropriate supporting documentation, within one month of receipt. Most recent available information indicates that around 90 per cent. of Vocational Training Scheme claims and 83 per cent. of Rural Enterprise Scheme claims are authorised within one month of receipt. The above-mentioned figures reflect the fact that a proportion of claims are submitted with incomplete supporting documentation in the first instance.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are
2 Dec 2002 : Column 496W
being taken by her Department to investigate the impact of (a) conventional and (b) organic farming systems on soil organisms and the role they play in relation to (i) retention of moisture and carbon, (ii) delivering nutrients and (iii) the avoidance of soil erosion. 
Mr. Meacher: The study of soil organisms in relation to aspects of soil fertility forms a significant part of the Department's R&D budget. The Department is spending approximately £1.2 million on Soil R&D in 200203. This includes work on soil fertility, quality, erosion and sustainable management. Examples include SP0130 which is investigating the long-term impacts of sewage sludge additions on soil properties; SP0519 which considers critical levels of soil organic matter for soil stability and function, and SP0524 an audit of all UK soil research. We fund monitoring of soil quality including the Representative Soil Sampling Scheme (current project SR0123) and the National Soil Inventory (current project SP0521). A recently completed project (OF0164) compared the soil fertility in soils farmed organically and conventionally. The project found evidence of increased levels of earthworms and beneficial nematodes in organic compared to conventional soils, but concluded that the differences in soil microbiology were subtle rather than dramatic. There is to be a review of our soil R&D in spring 2003. Future R&D is likely to consider soil function, soil biology and improved monitoring.
In relation to the effects of soil organisms on
Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of supermarket trolleys discarded off supermarket premises in the last year for which figures are available; what measures she plans to take to reduce off-site discarding of supermarket trolleys; and if she will bring forward proposals to levy an environmental charge. 
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Mr. Meacher: Figures for discarded shopping trolleys are not collected centrally. Legislation is already in place regarding abandoned shopping trolleys. Under section 99 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, local authorities can collect abandoned shopping (and luggage) trolleys, store them and charge owners for their return. Adopting a deposit system, installing obstacles that prevent trolleys being taken off the site, or publicising a trolley collection service, will help control this problem and prevent retailers being charged for trolley collections. Given these measures, we have no plans to levy an environmental charge.
Mr. David Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's policy is on increasing the amount of Thai food produce imported into the United Kingdom. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 19 November 2002]: Promotion of exports to the United Kingdom is a matter for the authorities of the country or countries concerned.
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