Home-produced Food

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th July 1986.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Staffordshire Moorlands 12:00 am, 10th July 1986

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of food consumed in the United Kingdom is home-produced.

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Medway

It is provisionally estimated that 60 per cent. of all food consumed in the United Kingdom was home produced in 1985.

Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Staffordshire Moorlands

What was the percentage before Britain joined the European Community? Does my hon. Friend agree that, if the level is to be maintained and improved, the Government must continue to give strong support to British agriculture, especially the livestock sector?

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Medway

That percentage compares with 50 per cent. in 1973 and represents a considerable achievement by the industry. However, self-sufficiency in indigenous foods — those that can be grown commercially in Britain's climate—increased from 62 per cent. in 1973 to 80 per cent. in 1985. I think that that will reassure my hon. Friend that we are giving that support to the farming community.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

Is it not time that the Government took effective action against the high proportion of South African foodstuffs in our shops? Does the Minister not realise that sanctions of this nature would help home food producers as well as help to bring about the end to the evil apartheid regime in South Africa?

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Medway

The hon. Gentleman's ideology should not persuade him that we could grow citrus fruit in this country.

Mr. Andy Stewart:

My hon. Friend's comments are good news for the British producer. However, does she agree that much of this has been achieved by the promotional work carried out by the Women's Farming Union? Will she consider appointing a member of the Women's Farming Union to head Food from Britain, as Sir Richard Butler does not appear to be acceptable?

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Medway

I note what my hon. Friend says, and I am trying very hard not to let my Freudian slip show. Of course I agree that the Women's Farming Union, the agriculture industry, the food industry and Food from Britain have all made a great contribution. It is also significant that, as well as home consumption, our food exports are now some £2·7 billion a year compared with £800 million in 1975.

Photo of Mr Richard Livsey Mr Richard Livsey , Brecon and Radnor

Will the Minister comment on the position in the dairy industry, which is only 85 per cent. self-sufficient, and which is having to accept a further 3 per cent. cut in milk quotas, with subsequent unemployment among dairy creamery workers? Will she please make a statement about New Zealand imports and say whether these can be offset against quota?

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Medway

In relation to the hon. Gentleman's latter point, the Community has a commitment, which we fully support, not to deprive New Zealand of outlets essential to that country. It is significant that New Zealand exports of butter to the Community have less than halved since our accession to the Community.

Photo of Robert Key Robert Key , Salisbury

Does my hon. Friend agree that only rarely do urban consumers see the connection between what is happening in the fields in the countryside and what appears on their supermarket shelves? Would she therefore join me in congratulating Safeways and other supermarkets on displaying home-produced rape oil on their shelves?

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Medway

Yes indeed. Of course, Food from Britain has, through its quality charter systems, also drawn the consumer's attention to the quality of British food.

Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow

Does the Minister agree that the British fisherman plays an important part in producing food for the domestic consumer? Will the hon. Lady and her ministerial colleagues give an assurance that the provision for the Sea Fish Industry Authority will be maintained so that a first-class product can continue?

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Medway

I wholly agree with the hon. Gentleman about the great and increasing contribution that fish makes in persuading people of the high quality of British food. We support the Sea Fish Industry Authority in its promotion of fish. I am delighted to see that supermarkets also promote fish heavily.

Photo of Mr Philip Oppenheim Mr Philip Oppenheim , Amber Valley

Despite the fact that the agriculture industry has had great success in gaining a larger share of the home food market, will my hon. Friend accept that none the less, it is true that, since the introduction of milk quotas, that share has slipped back a little, to the benefit of French and Dutch dairy farmers, who produce a surplus, while British dairy farmers have had to cut back despite the fact that we are not self-sufficient overall in dairy products?

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Medway

Domestic butter production, as a proportion of total new supplies, has increased from 57 per cent. in 1980 to 64 per cent. in 1985. For cheese, there has been a slight decrease from 70 per cent. to 67 per cent., but that figure reflects cheese imports and an increased range of choice.