Pig Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th March 1983.

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Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Kingston upon Hull West 12:00 am, 17th March 1983

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take steps to release supplies of barley at present in storage to pig producers at an affordable price.

Photo of Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith , Angus North and Mearns

Both wheat and barley from intervention are on offer for sale in the United Kingdom at the lowest prices allowable under Community rules.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Kingston upon Hull West

The highest density of pigs in the United Kingdom is to be found in the hinterland of Hull on both banks of the Humber. The pig producers believe that they are having a bad deal on any score. These men do not have a support system. Does the Minister accept that, they are paying too heavily for cereals to feed their pigs.

Photo of Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith , Angus North and Mearns

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. There is a support system. It is not as strong a system as for other commodities, but, as he will have heard me say earlier, there is the financial benefit of the private storage scheme of which the industry is currently taking advantage. Export restitution is also available. Those are two areas in which direct financial help is available to the industry.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , County Londonderry

Is the Minister aware of the great difficulties experienced by Northern Ireland pig producers because so much grain has to be imported to feed the pigs? Will he give careful consideration to setting up an intervention store for grain in Northern Ireland?

Photo of Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith , Angus North and Mearns

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, pig and livestock producers generally in Northern Ireland have traditionally had to pay higher prices than those applicable in other parts of the United Kingdom. In the various schemes that we have tried to negotiate we have tried to alleviate that problem. I have noted what the hon. Gentleman said.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Baker Mr Nicholas Baker , North Dorset

If my right hon. Friend cannot accommodate the hon. Gentleman by having a cheap grain scheme for pig producers, will he lend his weight to improving the marketing of pig and pork products, which has been lacking in the past?

Photo of Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith , Angus North and Mearns

We have already done that. My right hon. Friend has given his support to the launching of the charter bacon scheme, which is a worthwhile initiative. Food from Britain, which is a new initiative, is currently considering what its priorities should be. I hope that it will do its best to promote pork and bacon products. There is no doubt that those two products are good value for the housewife. At present, both those products, given the prices, are good value for money to the housewife.

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Renfrewshire West

Does the Minister agree that pig producers are suffering from a treble disadvantage: competing with other meats that have a full support system; buying in commodities—mainly grain—which have a proper support system; and having no support system for themselves? The shortest, swiftest and best way to deal with their losses is to release the grain in intervention at the price at which it is being released to Spain.

Photo of Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith Mr Alick Buchanan-Smith , Angus North and Mearns

The hon Gentleman should get his facts straight before he makes such remarks. He should look at the consumption figures. The sheepmeat regime is an example. Comparing 1981 with 1982, one finds that pork consumption has increased, whereas sheepmeat consumption has declined. That gives the lie to the hon. Gentleman's accusation.