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Barry Gardiner [holding answer 8 May 2007]: Total factor productivity for UK farming, which shows the volume of output leaving the industry per unit of all inputs including fixed capital and labour, rose by 2.1 per cent. in 2006. More information about the productivity levels of UK farming can be found in the DEFRA publication Agriculture in the United Kingdom.
Improving productivity is a key element for our vision for farming, which identifies an industry that is profitable in the market place, makes a positive net environmental contribution and manages the landscape and the natural assets that underlie it.
i. The use of Axis 1 funding of the new Rural Development Programme for England, which will be used to promote greater awareness of market opportunities, including for diversified enterprises, the benefits of collaboration and co-operation, and the acquisition of skills needed to exploit new opportunities.
ii. Restructuring the five statutory horticulture and agriculture levy boards into one overarching levy board with subsidiary, sectoral companies, thus allowing for efficiencies and commonalities to be identified, in order to help the sectors involved. For example, the new structure will facilitate exchange of information across the sectors on issues of common interest such as water and waste.
iii. In addition to that available under the agriculture development scheme, the Government have provided a significant amount of dedicated funding to the Food Chain Centre and the Red Meat and Cereals Industry Forums, and English Farming and Food Partnerships, as a transitional measure to help the industry adapt to a more market-orientated future.
iv. Implementation of the non-food crops strategy, which aims to drive forward the bio-based economy through research, dissemination of technology and knowledge, and building supply chains from agriculture to industry.
v. Supporting the quality regional food sector through a five year £5 million programme (which began in 2003-04) with the specific objective of creating a flourishing high quality regional food sector.
vi. Working with stakeholders to progress the action plan to develop organic food and farming in England which aims to create a sustainable and competitive organic farming and food sector.
vii. Support for farmers to take advantage of financial risk management products to enable them to be more resilient to increased price volatility, and to increase uptake of the business benchmarking software that is available under through the whole farm approach.
viii. Helping farmers and growers under the public sector food procurement initiative (PSFPI) to develop the capabilities and capacity necessary to meet the public sector's requirements for food.
ix. Establishment of the biomass action plan with the objective of addressing barriers to the production of biomass energy, and stimulating the development of the sector.
x. Improving the regulation of farming, by making it more effective, and efficient for farmers, thus helping them to reduce costs and increase competitiveness.
xi. The whole farm approach (WFA) helps farmers to identify where there is a regulatory requirement and the actions necessary to fulfil that requirement, supported by targeted help and guidance.
xii. Developing a business competence framework for the environmental and land-based sectors to provide a clear understanding of what skills an individual will require to work in particular industries and in particular jobs within those industries.
xiii. Supporting the initiative which aims to encourage new people into the farming industry with the appropriate skills to succeed in a market-driven environment.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have provided to the Black Environment Network; for what purpose the funding was provided; and what the outcome of such funding has been, broken down by project. 
Barry Gardiner: The following table shows funding contributions to the Black Environment Network (BEN) over recent years from English Nature and the Countryside Agency (CA), as founding bodies for Natural England.
|Countryside Agency||English Nature||Natural England|
English Nature (EN) had a long standing relationship with BEN and recognised the valuable work done to support and develop the involvement of ethnic minority groups and individuals with the natural environment. The payments in 2004-05 and 2005-06 were to further develop their national and regional networks, and to provide English Nature staff with awareness training, advice and guidance with projects involving ethnic communities.
Through our support, BEN was able to improve its network administration and support, further develop its website, and share good practice. An English Nature staff training event was very successful and well attended. Staff gained confidence and understanding, and were able to follow up and seek specific advice on their projects.
The project aim was to support and enable ethnic participation in sustainable development through developing the knowledge, skills and values needed to make decisions about how they do things, individually and collectively, locally and globally.
Work developing and strengthening BEN as an infrastructural organisation
Enabling active participation in sustainable living,
Formalisation and promotion of partnership initiatives focussed on ethnic environmental participation,
Strategic participation in mainstream environmental movement, in order to maintain profile of ethnic community environmental participation,
Publication and promotion of resource materials based on models of good practice, in order to stimulate ethnic community environmental participation,
Development and promotion of BEN as a training and consultancy resource for ethnic community environmental participation.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on (a) temporary staff accommodation and (b) travel expenses in each year since 2001. 
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff were employed in the press offices of (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies in each year since 2001. 
Barry Gardiner: The number of press officers in Core DEFRA is tabulated as follows, with the census point for the number of press officers taken as June for each year. The staffing numbers for the Press Office fluctuate during the course of any one year.
|Staff number as at June|
The DEFRA Press Office provides services for the Central Science Laboratory, Government Decontamination Service, Marine and Fisheries Agency, Pesticide Safety Directorate, Veterinary Laboratory Agency, and Veterinary Medicines Directorate.
The number of staff employed in the press offices of each of the remaining DEFRA agencies of CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences) and the Rural Payments Agency, in each year since 2001 is tabulated as follows:
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies spent on staff employed in press agencies in each year since 2001. 
|Financial year||£ million|
The DEFRA Press Office provides press office services for the Central Science Laboratory, Government Decontamination Service, Marine and Fisheries Agency, Pesticide Safety Directorate, Veterinary Laboratory Agency, and Veterinary Medicines Directorate.
The costs for Press Officers and support staff in each of the remaining DEFRA agencies of CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences) and the Rural Payments Agency, in each year since 2001 were as follows:
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 8 May 2007]: The number of Statutory Instruments implemented by the Department for the years 2001-06 are: 2001133 (includes those implemented by MAFF up to June 2001); 2002120; 2003106; 2004125; 2005144; 2006150; The figure to date for 2007 is 59.
DEFRA is committed to a comprehensive programme of regulating better. Our December 2006 simplification plan, maximising outcomes, minimising burdens, explains the action that is being taken across DEFRA and its agencies to reduce administrative burdens and to improve regulations, and identifies over 130 separate initiatives that will contribute to meeting our target of reducing the administrative burden we impose on business by 25 per cent. by 2010. Those initiatives are scheduled to deliver an annual administrative burden reduction of around £159 million. That includes removing redundant legislation, without compromising environmental standards, seeking alternatives to traditional regulation and taking a risk-based approach to enforcement and inspection. A copy of the simplification plan is available from the Library of the House.
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