Farm Income

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15 April 1970.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry 12:00, 15 April 1970

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the estimated percentage of farm income derived from grants and deficiency payments in 1964, 1968 and 1969, respectively; and what is the expected percentage in 1970 on the basis of the recent price review and assuming normal weather conditions.

Photo of Mr John Mackie Mr John Mackie , Enfield East

Estimates of net farm income are calculated for years beginning 1st June. For the years 1964–65 and 1968–69, the percentages of net farm income derived from grants and deficiency payments are estimated at 50 and 45 respectively. For 1969–70, assuming normal weather conditions and allowing for the effects in April and May, 1970, of the recent price review, the percentage is forecast to remain at 45. No realistic forecast can yet be made for the coming year 1970–71.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

As the difference between 50 per cent. and 45 per cent. shows that a rising proportion of farm income is coming from the market rather than from the Exchequer, would not the hon. Gentleman take this as an occasion to welcome that trend and hope that it will continue and thus fulfil Conservative Party objectives?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

On the general aspect of Government expenditure in this field, has the Joint Parliamentary Secretary observed the comments in the "Little Neddy" report recently published that as a proportion of public expenditure Government expenditure on agriculture has dropped from 3 per cent. to 1½ per cent.? Does not this chime rather oddly with the Government's declared proposals for expansion of agriculture when the farmers feel that they are not getting enough?

Photo of Mr John Mackie Mr John Mackie , Enfield East

No, Sir. Our support for agriculture, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, depends on the changes in market prices, which affect the deficiency payments, and is also dependent on the levels of net income, which fluctuate with good and bad seasons.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food why, in appendix II, Aggregate Farming net income in United Kingdom, the actual income of £526½ million is higher than the raised sample of £418 million.

Photo of Mr John Mackie Mr John Mackie , Enfield East

The actual aggregate net income for 1968–69 is estimated at £480½ million. The difference between this and the raised sample estimate is explained in note (iv) of Appendix II.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

Many of us are seriously concerned about these differences. Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that a far more accurate picture is needed, that all the reports from private investigations show that the situation is far worse than the Ministry believes? In the interests of agriculture, will the hon. Gentleman see that a far more accurate picture is given?

Photo of Mr John Mackie Mr John Mackie , Enfield East

If it is figures about which the hon. Gentleman is anxious, I suggest that he studies these figures carefully.

Photo of Mr John Mackie Mr John Mackie , Enfield East

The hon. Gentleman says that he has done so, but his Question is wrong. He gives the figure of £526½ million, but, in fact, it is £480½ million. If he wants to talk about accuracy, he should read the figures carefully tonight in bed and then argue about the matter.

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

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the new raising method of calculating the aggregate farming net income includes the effect of devaluation and of inflation.

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

The raised estimates of aggregate farming net income are based on some 3,600 farm accounts, which record farmers' actual costs, from whatever cause these arise.

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

Is the Minister therefore satisfied that these costs leave the farmer in 1968–69 with precisely the income which he had in 1964–65?

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the annual income of the industry has increased and is shared among fewer farmers.

Photo of Mr Joe Ashton Mr Joe Ashton , Bassetlaw

Did not devaluation raise prices of imported food by about 14 per cent. and is not an increase in the price of imported food a main plank in Conservative Party policy? Did not the farmers gain in competitiveness by devaluation?

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

There were, of course, advantages in devaluation, and these have been made known to the House on several occasions.