Grain Harvest

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th July 1976.

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Photo of Mr Tom Litterick Mr Tom Litterick , Birmingham, Selly Oak 12:00 am, 8th July 1976

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are his Department's estimates of the size of this year's EEC grain harvest; and if he expects this to be followed by a rise or fall in the price of grain for animal feed and human consumption.

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

My Department does not make estimates of size of the harvests in the EEC. The drought in France, in particular, has caused uncertainty about the size of this year's harvest, but the Commission is not as yet in a position to make a precise forecast. It is not possible, therefore, to make a firm estimate at this stage of the possible effect on prices in the coming season.

Photo of Mr Tom Litterick Mr Tom Litterick , Birmingham, Selly Oak

Will my hon. Friend assure the House that if there is a shortfall in the European harvest this year there will be an appropriate adjustment of the levy on grain, so that a European shortfall will not lead to further increases in grain and, therefore, bread prices to the housewife?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

We shall take that into account. If there were a shortfall in the Community one would look at the prospects of grain from other places. I understand that the prospects in Canada and the Soviet Union are better this year.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

Would not the consequences of climatic variation be much better dealt with by market forces and the freedom of importation than by the attempts made within the absurd straitjacket of the common agricultural policy?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

I do not accept the right hon. Gentleman's claim about the straitjacket. It is the security of supplies that is important. Whether there is a drought or not, supplies are likely to be available to us from outside the Community, if not from inside.

Photo of Mr George Rodgers Mr George Rodgers , Chorley

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Commissioner's report for 1975 reveals that all food prices in the EEC are substantially higher, apart from one item, than those in the world market? Does he not agree that attempts to renegotiate the CAP from within have proved a failure, and should we not consider ways of negotiating our way out of that situation?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

It is difficult for anyone to say that EEC prices are necessarily higher than those in other places. Many other factors have to be taken into account. My hon. Friend will be aware of the help coming in the form of butter subsidies, and of the sugar position last year, and so on. Regarding FEOGA, the contribution that we are paying is less than the amount that we receive. It is difficult to take an overall view of prices.