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Farm Income

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research she is undertaking into the implications of the use of the milk quota and other quota arrangements as a means of access to the single farm payment. [169648]

Alun Michael: The use of milk quota to generate "historic" entitlements would tend to favour larger, more intensive, producers compared to the flat rate area based entitlements that are being adopted in England over an eight year transition period. It also increases the value of milk quota prior to decoupling. The issue was considered in the report by David Colman and David Harvey on "The Future of UK Dairy Farming", which
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was commissioned by the Dairy Supply Chain Forum and we are not undertaking any further research on the matter.

Farm Medicine

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on proposals to examine the rules in relation to prescription-only farm medicines and the cost of administering them. [173878]

Mr. Bradshaw: The rules in relation to prescription-only farm medicines have been the subject of three reviews. In the UK, the Independent Review of Dispensing by Veterinary Surgeons of Prescription Only Medicines (the Marsh Report) in 2001 and the 2003 Competition Commission Inquiry into the Cost of Prescription only Medicines both recognised the benefits of retaining the UK's distribution system for veterinary medicinal products while recommending changes to its detailed operation. This was, therefore the Government's aim during negotiations on the Review of European medicines legislation.

The Review of European medicines legislation has been completed and an amending Directive 2004/28/EC was published in the Official Journal on 30 April 2004. We are now able to implement the changes agreed in the three reviews. In taking forward the provisions for veterinary POMs we expect to establish a system that will retain the key elements of the current distribution arrangements.

We will consult widely on these proposals and on their cost. Officials from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate are already carrying out informal discussions with interested organisations. We intend to carry out a formal consultation exercise, when our proposals are developed further, at the beginning of next year so as to meet the deadline for implementation of the changes to the legislation of 30 October 2005.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what net change in the percentage of (a) area and (b) volume of glacier there has been in each of the last 10 years. [171510]

Mr. Morley: Yearly information on glaciers is not available as very few of them are monitored in detail. However, it is possible to infer how glacier volume is changing from measurements of sea level rise. By using values given in the "Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change", and estimates of sea level rise of 0.4 mm per year during the 1990s, it is estimated that glacier volume decreased by approximately 0.2 per cent. per year during the 1990s.

GM Crop Trials

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) acres and (b) hectares of land have been used for GM crop trials in each of the last five years for which records are available (i) as part of the Government's farm scale evaluation, (ii) for other experimental purposes and (iii) for other purposes. [173017]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 May 2004]: The available information is as follows.

(a) Farm-scale evaluations—approximate areas
Area (acres)Area (hectares)
2000 and 20012,433985

(b) Research and development trials

Accurate information is not available on the areas of research and development trials. Under the legislation the notifier is only required to give the size of the release site which is usually larger than the area used for growing GM crops. However, most of these releases are very small, in the region of 0.1–0.2 ha.

(c) National List trials—each site on average less than 0.1 ha
Area (acres)Area (hectares)

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on how many sites GM crops have been grown in the UK in the last five years for which records are available; and how many were (a) part of the Government's farm scale evaluation and (b) for other purposes. [173018]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 May 2004]: In the five years to the end of 2003, there were 565 releases of GM crops for research purposes. Of these 273 were used in the farm-scale evaluations on 264 sites, as nine maize sowings were on fields reused from the previous year. The remaining 292 releases were for National List trials or other research work and in many cases several different releases were located at the same site.


Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications for farmers of the time scale for distribution of Integrated Administration and Control System forms to farm businesses this year. [173016]

Alun Michael: The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is responsible for the distribution of Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) forms. The RPA is aware that 1,255 applicants, 1.85 per cent. of the total number of IACS applicants, had not received their forms by 19 April. It apologises for the late arrival of these forms.
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The RPA acknowledges that this will have reduced the time for some applicants to ensure forms are correctly completed and received by the RPA by the regulatory deadline of 17 May 2004. The deadline is set by EC Regulation and the RPA has no authority to change it.

As soon as the RPA became aware of concern from a small percentage of IACS applicants that they had not received their IACS forms it issued a statement on its website advising them to contact their RPA Processing Site.

The News Release that the RPA issued on 17 March announcing the 2004 IACS arrangements had already advised that any producer who had not received his form by 15 April to contact the RPA. The need to contact the RPA where IACS forms had not been received was further enforced in advertisements placed in editions of Farmers Weekly and The Grower at the end of March.


Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what dates the Dairy Supply Chain Forum met in the last year to discuss farmgate milk prices; what representations she has received regarding the price of milk received by farmers; what steps she is taking to increase the percentage that farmers receive; and if she will make a statement. [172988]

Alun Michael: The Dairy Supply Chain Forum, which is chaired by my noble Friend, the Lord Whitty, provides a framework in which all links in the dairy supply chain can come together to discuss the challenges facing the sector and develop collaborative solutions to improve the efficiency and promote the sustainable development of the sector. It does not discuss price negotiations, which are a private commercial matter between farmers and purchasers. However, the work of the Forum and its various subgroups should help address some of the underlying causes of low farmgate prices. In the last year the main Forum met on 7 July, 20 October and 28 January. In addition, its sub-groups meet frequently to take forward individual work streams.

As well as participating in the Forum and its subgroups, Defra has made a grant of £0.5 million to the Food Chain Centre to undertake a value chain analysis in the dairy sector. This will examine a number of different supply chains to find ways in which efficiency can be increased, improving the returns to all participants in those chains.

Milk Processing (Lancashire)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what powers she has to ensure that competition exists in milk processing in Lancashire. [173309]

Alun Michael: None. Responsibility for the administration of competition law rests with the competition authorities.
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