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Orders of the Day — Agriculture (Calf Subsidies)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th March 1968.

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Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington 12:00 am, 13th March 1968

I would not care to say that. I recommend the Devon or the Hereford. I am not certain about the Shorthorn. Unless we do this we shall not get the calves for our beef. I hope that the Minister will give every encouragement to do that. In the South-West we call this "punch money". "Have you got your punch money yet, master?" we are asked.

This is a most important part of the economy of many of the small farms in the South-West. It is right to give the subsidy to the producer or rearer of these calves. Often they are very difficult farms, small hill farms and family farms, and they need this money to give them the encouragement to produce the store cattle that we need. If we put it on the other end, to the fattener, then the rearer tends not to get the advantage of this. It is terribly important to see that this money goes to the rearer. It is only as it trickles through to the rearer will he be encouraged to produce the store cattle for the country and the fatteners. I am certain that this is what the Government want, and it is why they have given this encouragement and brought forward this Order again.

I am a little concerned about paragraph 6(2), which talks of the risk of animal diseases. Perhaps I am a little dumb tonight, after having sat through this long day, but what are these diseases which make it necessary to leave the punching of these cattle till later? It is not scour. Perhaps the Minister could tell us. In paragraph 6(3) there is talk about the farmer collecting the calves and having them in a suitable pen and giving assistance. Surely this is a bit pedantic? I do not know of any farmer who is not prepared to help in this way. If there is "punch money" in it, they are bound to see that they are all together and give every assistance to obtain it.

It seems to labour the point. I do no know of any evidence of farmers not prepared to help in this way. I welcome the fact that the calf sudsidy can be paid on carcases, under Stage B. Some of us have been making representations on this for a long time, and this is very welcome. I believe that it is right to do this. It may be, if we look into the future, there may be overproduction of milk and farmers may tend to want perhaps to beef some of their heifer replacements instead of using them as dairy replacements. If they are the right sort, and properly fattened, they can get the subsidy.

This is a very big step forward. For perhaps the first time I am congratulating the Minister on these efforts. I must not overdo it, but I think it is fair to give praise where it is due. I welcome this and I am certain that it will help to encourage beef production.