Milk

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th November 1967.

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Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington 12:00 am, 29th November 1967

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has completed the details of the pool price dilution formula for milk; and if he will now announce it.

Photo of Mr James Hoy Mr James Hoy , Edinburgh Leith

The Government have agreed with the Farmers' Unions the factors to be taken into account in the implementation of the milk price assurance given at the 1966 Review. This year's figures will be published in the 1968 An Dual Review White Paper.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

Yes, but does not the Minister realise that the farmers are very anxious to know exactly how this plan is going to work? Does the Minister realise, too, that if he wants calves he has got to have cows, and if he is to have cows he has got to have milk—[An HON. MEMBER: "And a bull."]—and if he is to have milk he has got to have money for it?

Photo of Mr James Hoy Mr James Hoy , Edinburgh Leith

I must say that I left the bull to the hon. Gentleman who has not made a bad job of it. Of course farmers know what conditions there are. They have been worked out by the N.F.U. and the Government. There is an agreement, and indeed, the provisional estimate of the United Kingdom average producer price in 1967–68 is rather more than ¾d. more than last year. The indications are that the farmers' incomes are rising, and I am delighted to see it. We are disappointed with calf retentions. We have said this, and we hope they will improve, but on the whole it is not a bad story.

Photo of Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris , Nantwich

Would it not be a good thing if the hon. Gentleman were to impress upon his right hon. Friend that he ought to revise his plans altogether in view of the chronic stock shortage, which has become obvious and is likely to become more so before we have done with this scourge?

Photo of Mr James Hoy Mr James Hoy , Edinburgh Leith

I take that into consideration, but the figures do not bear out what the hon. Gentleman has just said. The figures are up considerably compared with 1964. Talking off the record, I think it is about 230,000 up—off the cuff, I should have said, but I think that hon. Gentleman will know that I mean. I do not have the figure with me, but I think that it is 230,000 up compared with 1964.

Photo of Sir Arthur Irvine Sir Arthur Irvine , Liverpool Edge Hill

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what further action he proposes to take in order to prevent the dilution of the producer price of milk by imports of dumped and subsidised milk products.

Photo of Mr James Hoy Mr James Hoy , Edinburgh Leith

Producers' returns are maintained at their proper level through the mechanism of the guarantee, which is reviewed annually, in the light of all the relevant factors. This long-standing arrangement has stood the test of time. Any application for the imposition of anti-dumping duties should be made to the Board of Trade.

Photo of Sir Arthur Irvine Sir Arthur Irvine , Liverpool Edge Hill

As the Minister has recently made arrangements for dealing with some of these imports, should not these arrangements be widely extended?

Photo of Mr James Hoy Mr James Hoy , Edinburgh Leith

We certainly took action in one specific instance, and I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's thanks.

Photo of Sir Francis Pearson Sir Francis Pearson , Clitheroe

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his present estimate of the average producer price for milk during the year 1967–68.

Photo of Mr James Hoy Mr James Hoy , Edinburgh Leith

It is estimated that the United Kingdom average net producer price for milk in 1967–68 will be about 3s. 3½d. a gallon.

Photo of Sir Francis Pearson Sir Francis Pearson , Clitheroe

Would the Minister agree that the low price attracted by manufactured milk is the bugbear of the milk price structure? In view of the need to expand production over all spheres, will the Minister consider having a new look at the whole principle of the standard price?

Photo of Mr James Hoy Mr James Hoy , Edinburgh Leith

Quite obviously the amount that goes to manufacture has its effect, but about 90 per cent. of our total milk production is covered by the guaranteed price, and I repeat that the price this year will be about ¾d. more than last year, because since June our forecast of milk production has gone up by a further 60 million gallons.