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12 Dec 2002 : Column 446W—continued


Mr. Peter Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have to extend the new biodegradable carrier bag incentives to include other plastics. [86021]

Mr. Meacher: I am not aware of any incentive scheme aimed at biodegradable plastic carrier bags.

Farmgate and Retail

Andrew George : To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average (a) farmgate and (b) retail price is of (i) one kilogram of (A) beef, (B) lamb, (C) pork, (D) chicken, (E) turkey, (F) bacon, (G) dessert apples, (H) potatoes, (I) tomatoes, (J) cauliflower and (K) peas, (ii) one pint of (A) milk, (B) cream, (C) yoghurt, (iii) one dozen eggs and (iv) one litre of (A) English wine and (B) brandy, distinguishing between (1) organic and (2) conventionally produced foodstuffs in each case. [85349]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 December 2002]: The farmgate and retail prices of conventionally grown foodstuffs, where available, are shown in table 1. Prices are not collected for English wine or brandy. Small quantities of cream and yogurt are sold at the farmgate direct to consumers at retail prices. The amount of processing taking place between farmgate and retail varies from commodity to commodity; an indication is given in the table. Farm gate prices include produce destined for highly processed food, which is normally lower quality and sells at a lower price.

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Limited information is available on prices of organically produced food. Indications of current farm gate prices are shown in table 2, where available, as

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provided by the Soil Association. There are no retail prices available.

Table 1: conventionally grown produce

Produce# perFarmgate valueRetail valueIndication of further processing
Beef(13)Kg1.703.84Slaughtered, trimmed and cut
Lamb(13)Kg2.364.84Slaughtered, trimmed and cut
Pork(13)Kg0.942.26Slaughtered, trimmed and cut
Bacon(13)Kg0.963.54Slaughtered, trimmed, cut and cured
Apples, dessert(16)Kg0.381.22Packing and grading where off farm
Potatoes(17)Kg0.090.50Packing and grading where off farm
Tomatoes(16)Kg0.731.43Packing and grading where off farm
Cauliflower(16)Kg0.230.68Packing and grading where off farm
Milk(16)Pint0.100.37Pasteurised, bottled and delivered
Eggs(14)Dozen0.541.64Packing and grading where off farm

(13) Farmgate and retail prices provided by the Meat and Livestock Commission, average of January to September 2002.

(14) Retail prices provided by the ONS, average of Janaury to October 2002.

(15) Retail prices not available from the ONS.

(16) Retail prices from DEFRA's aggregate agricultural account, estimates for 2001–02 crop year.

(17) Retail prices from the expenditure and food survey.

Table 2: organically grown produce

Produce# perFarmgate value
Apples, dessertKg0.90–1.10

(18) Calculated from an average weight of 2.25 kg per chicken.

(19) Head.

(20) Price for milk sold as organic, does not include organic milk that is sold in the conventional market.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what average level of nitrates there has been (a) within river courses and (b) in drinking water in the United Kingdom in each year since 1990, broken down by river course, type and region. [86407]

Mr. Morley: Responsibility for Scotland and Wales falls to the relevant devolved administrations.

(a)Nitrate levels in river courses in England and Northern Ireland

England: The Environment Agency monitors nitrate levels in rivers in England as part of the General Quality Assessment (GQA) network. Average annual nitrate levels are published each year and regional breakdowns are available from the Environment Agency. Detailed data can be obtained via The recent Environment Agency publication XRivers and Estuaries: a decade of improvement" contains details of the latest GQA nutrient monitoring data. This is available from the Environment Agency on 08459 333111 and from®ion.

Northern Ireland: Since the early 1990s the Department for Environment's Agency the Environment and Heritage Service has monitored nitrate levels on a monthly basis at approximately 260 river sites throughout Northern Ireland. In the period 1990 to 2001, a total of 45,109 samples have been analysed for nitrate and 13 samples (0.03 per cent.) have failed the 50mg NO3/L standard laid down in the EC Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC).

(b) Nitrate levels in drinking water in England and Northern Ireland

The Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 1989 set a maximum standard for nitrate in drinking water at 50 milligrams per litre. This standard remains the same within the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2000, which come into force on 25 December 2003.

England: It is not possible to give a breakdown of nitrate in drinking water by river course and region. The percentage of tests which failed to meet the nitrate standard within England and Wales has fallen from 2.8 in 1990 to 0.08 in 2000. In 2001 there was a small rise in the percentage of tests failing to 0.38. This is linked to the occurrence of nitrate being found in groundwater supplies, as a result of pollution from long term agricultural runoff.

The table shows the data in each of the years.

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YearPercentage contravening the standard

Where there has been a contravention of a standard which is not trivial and is likely to recur, the Drinking Water inspectorate requires the water company concerned to give a legally binding undertaking to take remedial action to achieve compliance. In the case of nitrate the simplest option is to blend the high nitrate containing water with low nitrate containing water, if available. Otherwise more complex treatment is needed.

Northern Ireland: Between 1 October 1994 (when Northern Ireland's Water Quality Regulations came into force) and the end of 2001 the nitrate standard in drinking water supplies was contravened on 16 occasions out of a total of 5,873 tests. The number and percentage of tests failing in each year is given in the following table.

The contraventions in 1998 occurred in one water supply zone. Blending action was taken to achieve compliance thereafter.

YearNumber of testsPercentage contravening the standard

Poultry Industry

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of third world imports on the UK poultry industry; and what recent meetings she has had with the National Farmers Union and representatives of the poultry industry to discuss this. [84601]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 9 December 2002]: In common with other EU countries, the UK imports substantial quantities of poultry meat from third countries, particularly as a source of raw material for further processing. UK poultry producers therefore face significant competition from third country supplies.

I have had no recent meetings with the National Farmers Union on this issue. My most recent meeting with the poultry industry was on 3 December 2002, when I attended the annual awards ceremony of the

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Breeders and Hatcheries Sector Group of the British Poultry Council. Third country imports was one of the issues referred to at that event.

Organic Oilseed Rape

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the separation distances are between GM and non-GM or organic oilseed rape. [86611]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 10 December 2002]: Separation distances have been applied to the Farm Scale Evaluation GM crop trials under the terms of a code of practice drawn up by the farming and industry body SCIMAC (Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops). The following distances have applied in respect of oilseed rape:


Separation distance in SCIMAC code where neighbouring oilseed rape crop is:
Conventionally grownOrganic
Oilseed rape variety: conventional varieties and restored hybrids50200
Varietal associations and partially restored hybrids100200

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