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Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to encourage young people to (a) remain in farming and (b) take up farming as a career. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Fresh Start, an industry-led initiative supported by Government, helps train new entrants to the farming industry. There are 24 Fresh Start Academies, with more in the pipeline, focusing on developing business skills for new farmers.
DEFRA provides funding to support the activities of the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs which work with young people, aged 10-26, with an interest in rural issues. The clubs offer young people a range of activities and experiences with a rural flavour, including training in agricultural and countryside skills and competitive activities. DEFRA provides funding to support those activities which meet DEFRA priorities.
Government supported the Year of Food and Farming in 2007-08 and are supporting the legacy campaign, Think Food and Farming. These schemes have helped children and young people learn about growing food, what happens on a farm, what life is like in the countryside and what the countryside can offer in terms of employment. Through agri-environmental schemes farmers receive approximately £1 million per year to provide educational visits to their farms from schools and other interest groups.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families is developing a new Diploma offering a mix of classroom and hands on experience at different levels in Environmental and Land-based Studies for 14 to 19-year-olds. It will be available in some schools and colleges in England from September 2009, and across the whole country by 2013. It focuses on the environmental and land-based sector and includes subjects such as:
working with plants and animals
the way land is used for the production of food and for recreation
he effect humans have on the world around and how to limit the damage we do.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding his Department allocated to the development of agricultural businesses in (a) Essex and (b) Castle Point in each of the last five years. 
Funding allocated by DEFRA for the development of agricultural businesses is not generally recorded at constituency or county level. The following
table provides figures covering allocations made to farmers in Essex in each of the last five years under the agri-environment schemes, which form part of the wider Rural Development Programme that provides support to the agricultural sector. These schemes are delivered by Natural England.
|Total (£ million)|
Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of progress in the BTV8 vaccination programme; what recent assessment he has made of the effects on veterinary practices of undertaking the programme; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The BTV8 vaccination programme played a vital role in keeping the UK free from circulating BTV8 disease last year, with vaccination levels in the region of 60 per cent. across England.
Vaccination remains voluntary in 2009. BTV8 vaccine is readily available both from the remaining Government underwritten supply and from the three manufacturers who are supplying vaccine direct to the market.
If adequate vaccination levels are not reached this year, and BTV8 is reintroduced, the disease may spread to unvaccinated animals. Evidence suggests that the disease is still present and circulating in some neighbouring EU member states. Farmers and livestock keepers should not become complacent and should vaccinate their animals for BTV8 as soon as possible.
Veterinary practices have played and continue to play a crucial role in making vaccine available to livestock keepers and advising on best practice usage to livestock keepers to ensure that disease does not spread. In playing this crucial role veterinary practices have also had the opportunity to benefit from sales of the vaccine, and we have no evidence of widespread negative impacts on the industry.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) longest, (b) shortest and (c) average amount of time was between the reporting of an initial test for bovine tuberculosis as inconclusive and re-testing in each of the last five years. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Animal health systems are not able to readily provide complete and accurate data in the format requested. However, the average number of days taken to retest inconclusive TB reactors for the last five years is as follows:
|Inconclusive reactor re-tests, 2004-08|
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 24 June 2009, Official Report, column 938W, on bovine tuberculosis: vaccination, if he will consult hon. Members for constituencies in the most affected areas on (a) numbers of farmers signing up to participate in the pilots and (b) mechanisms to be put in place for the administration of the vaccine. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: We will shortly be writing to MPs with constituencies in the selected areas to inform them about the project, the catchment areas where we will be signing up farmers to participate and the timetable. The letters will include a contact point so MPs can get in touch to find out more or if they would like to discuss further.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the receivers of the Dairy Farmers of Britain co-operative on payment of the May 2009 milk cheque to members supplying the co-operative. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: On 17 June I attended a meeting of the Receivers (PWC), senior officials, Dairy Farmers of Britain Members Council, Dairy UK, farm unions, banks, and charity and benevolent organisations to continue coordinated efforts and work towards our common goal of minimising the impacts on all those affected.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the receivers of the Dairy Farmers of Britain co-operative about the business prospects of former members of the co-operative. 
All members affected are being made aware of all available schemes and assistance to help businesses and individuals through difficulties (such as Business Link and the HMRC Business Payment Support Services).
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the UK dairy industry on the collapse of the Dairy Farmers of Britain co-operative. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: On 17 June I met with representatives of the dairy industry, farm unions and others to continue coordinated efforts and work towards our common goal of minimising the impacts on all those affected.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what reports his Department received of the financial difficulties faced by the cooperative Dairy Farmers in Britain before it went into receivership. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The challenges faced by Dairy Farmers of Britain were widely reported in recent months. Ministers held discussions with Lord Granchester (chairman of DFB) on more than one occasion and officials kept Ministers informed of discussions with stakeholders on the issue. The details of these discussions were commercially confidential and sensitive.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to mitigate the risk of diffuse pollution from (a) agriculture, (b) transport and (c) industry in the Tame Valley catchment area. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Environment Agency is mitigating the risk of diffuse pollution in the Tame Valley catchment by regulating pig and poultry installations under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations (EPR) 2007. The Environment Agency also undertakes targeted visits to nitrate vulnerable zones and responds to pollution incidents.
The Environment Agency has advised on anti-pollution measures during the planning and development of major road constructions in the area and regulates the highest risk activities of industry through the EPR 2007. The Environment Agency also controls diffuse pollution through pollution prevention visits which are undertaken at un-permitted EPR sites.
DEFRA is taking forward several proposals to mitigate diffuse pollution generally including a ban on phosphates in domestic laundry cleaning products. Such a ban would contribute to a reduction in phosphate pollution in watercourses, by dealing directly with this source of phosphate pollution.
Through the draft Floods and Water Management Bill we are consulting on proposals to make it compulsory to consider sustainable drainage systems in new developments. Sustainable drainage systems will not only reduce flooding but also contribute to a reduction in diffuse pollution of the aquatic environment.
In the draft Bill we are also developing proposals to improve the way wrong connections of foul sewage to surface water sewers are dealt with. Our proposals would make dealing with these wrong connections more efficient and so open up opportunities for other initiatives on wrong connections to reduce pollution of rivers and streams.
The Nitrates Action Programme requires farmers in nitrate vulnerable zones to comply with requirements concerning the use and management of manures and fertilisers. There is an extensive advisory programme in support of this.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to monitor the number of allegations of human rights abuses made against Colombian security force personnel seeking training in the UK. 
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of relations between the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: There is significant co-operation between the UN peacekeeping mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) and the Congolese army (FARDC) at senior military as well as at operational level. However, there have been recent isolated instances where FARDC have demonstrated hostility towards MONUC. In response, MONUC have met with senior FARDC commanders to address the issue. The Congolese Government are taking measures to enhance the discipline and effectiveness of the FARDC, with the assistance of MONUC and the wider international community.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Operation Kimia II against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The success of Operation Kimia II has been mixed so far. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia continues to carry out attacks against the civilian population and the Democratic Republic of Congo armed forces in north and south Kivu provinces. However, the military effort against the FDLR in north Kivu has maintained pressure on the group. We understand that in some areas the FDLR has been forced to withdraw from ground it had held.
The operation extended into south Kivu only recently. It is too early to assess its impact there but we continue to urge the UN peacekeeping mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Congolese armed forces to do all it can to protect civilians. While it remains our view that military pressure is necessary to weaken the FDLR, a lasting solution to the problems posed by the militia requires a political settlement.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of allegations of the use by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda of Congolese civilians as human shields in Shabunda in South Kivu; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We have received no specific information concerning the use by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia of civilians as human shields in Shabunda. However, recent reports suggest that Shabunda territory is under the control of the FDLR, who continue to carry out acts of violence against civilians in South Kivu province. The Democratic Republic of Congo army has recently extended its operations against the FDLR into South Kivu, supported by UN peace-keepers. I commend their efforts to restrict the activity of this illegal militia.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on attacks on the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo by Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia has carried out attacks on members of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at various locations in North and South Kivu in recent weeks. These have resulted in casualties among the armed forces, FDLR and the civilian population. The Congolese army (FARDC)s operation against the FDLR, supported by the UN peacekeeping mission to the DRC (MONUC), is continuing in North and South Kivu provinces. We continue to urge MONUC and the FARDC to do all they can to protect civilians.
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