Sugar Beet Growers

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st November 1991.

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Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham , North West Norfolk 12:00 am, 21st November 1991

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received from sugar beet growers in Norfolk.

Photo of David Curry David Curry , Skipton and Ripon

We are in frequent contact with sugar beet growers about rhizomania.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham , North West Norfolk

The beet growers in my constituency are very happy with the Government's policy on ducks. Is my hon. Friend aware, however, that those beet growers have had a black cloud hanging over their operations in recent years because of the threat of rhizomania? Although, mercifully, there has not been an outbreak this year, a number of farmers have been affected during the last few years, with great consequences for their livelihood and farms. Is not it time that the Government had a comprehensive policy and package for dealing with the problem?

Photo of David Curry David Curry , Skipton and Ripon

The Government have a comprehensive policy, which is to be absolutely categorical in preventing the spread of rhizomania. Had we not held the line last year, we may not have had a test of more than 2,300 samples this year with no results being positive. However, I wish to maintain the flexibility to deal with individual circumstances. We have done that, which is why I am not prepared to lay down a categorical guideline that would hinder my ability to be flexible within the bounds of keeping that disease under control.