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Ms Quin: Specific prohibitions on imports of beef from Portugal, South Africa and Swaziland are currently in place because of the disease situations in those countries. Beef may be imported from EU member states other than Portugal in accordance with Community rules. Beef may only be imported into any EU member state from third countries that have been approved by the European Commission and it must come from approved premises in those countries. Those approved third countries which currently have approved establishments are set out in the list shown. Beef cannot be imported into the UK from any third country which is not on this list.
United States of America
9 Feb 2001 : Column: 719W
Jackie Ballard: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received about technical support at BCMS for farmers applying for cattle passports; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 2 February 2001]: A number of requests and suggestions for an increase in general advisory support have been received in recent months from the BCMS industry forum, the industry- Government working group on livestock identification and directly from producers. The BCMS telephone helpline offers support on a very wide range of issues. Additionally, BCMS publish an extensive range of free publications on various aspects of cattle identification. These, together with advice from field officers on farm inspections, offer a good level of general advisory support to farmers. We expect that the number of farmers contacting BCMS by electronic means to increase significantly through the launch of our new website.
Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made towards achieving the Government's objective of minimising the environmental impact of pesticides. 
Ms Quin: The MAFF publication "Towards Sustainable Agriculture--A Pilot Set of Indicators", (which is available on the MAFF website www.maff.gov.uk) includes five indicators of pesticide use which, taken together, show the progress that is being made on minimisation.
The Government recognise that there is an on-going need to encourage and support minimisation as a component of the drive towards more sustainable agriculture. We will continue to fund a wide-ranging programme of research on minimisation, support schemes promoting environmentally friendly farming, and to promote the work of the independent pesticides forum.
Ms Quin [holding answer 5 February 2001]: Participation by transport companies in the scheme is voluntary. We have already announced a number of carriers approved to bring in animals from Western Europe. These are Hoverspeed, P&O Stena, Sea France, Brittany Ferries, P&O European and Eurotunnel Shuttle Service. A number of airlines have also been approved as carriers--British Midland, Lufthansa and Finnair and, most recently, Air Malta and Cyprus Airways. Carriers are approved to carry animals on specific routes; there is no blanket approval for a ferry company or airline. As additional transport companies and new routes are approved by the Ministry, details will be placed on the website (http//:www.maff.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine) and made available through the PETS helpline (0870 241 1710). We are currently in negotiation with several additional companies.
9 Feb 2001 : Column: 720W
Dr. Jack Cunningham: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many people are employed at the cattle traceability centre in West Cumbria; and if he will make a statement on its development. 
Ms Quin: 619 people are currently employed at the British cattle movement service (BCMS) in Workington. A recent better quality services (BQS) review concluded that keeping BCMS in the public sector is the right way to achieve a high quality, trusted service. As a result, 452 staff currently employed on a fixed term basis will be made permanent employees. The number of permanent employees at BCMS will then be 474. A further 145 people are currently employed on a temporary basis.
The BQS review also identified measures to improve the quality and efficiency of the service BCMS provides. These relate particularly, but not exclusively, to the greater use of technology and are now being taken forward by BCMS. We will also continue to look at how BCMS can best work with the developing CAP payments agency in England and its equivalents in Scotland and Wales, as well as its potential role in tracking livestock other than cattle.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what means there are for farmers to inform themselves of the Government's action plan for farming; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Quin: The Government publish a regular action plan for farming bulletin, reporting progress on all the measures in the plan. The latest bulletin was issued on 6 February and was distributed to those attending the annual general meeting of the National Farmers Union. All issues of the bulletin are available on the MAFF website (www.maff.gov.uk).
Farmers representatives also attend meetings of the agriculture strategy industry forum, established by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to review progress on the action plan and drive forward the strategy.
Mr. Tyler: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the organophosphate pesticide known as Crufomate [chemical name: Phosphoramidic Acid, Metryl-, 2-Chloro-4-(1.1-Dimetryletryl) Phenyl Metryl Ester] is licensed for use in the United Kingdom. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 5 February 2001]: No. Evidence provided to the Phillips inquiry indicated that two products containing Crufomate previously marketed in the UK for the treatment of warble fly infestations were withdrawn by the manufacturers prior to the introduction of the Warble Fly Order 1978.
9 Feb 2001 : Column: 721W
Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 February 2001]: The Rochester oyster and floating fishery claims a fishery in the Medway by Acts of Parliament and Royal Charter. However, as stated in the previous answer to my hon. Friend on 25 January 2000, Official Report, column 188W, only the courts are in a position to be able to rule on whether the Medway is truly a public or private fishery. I am not aware that any of the vessels owned by Rochester oyster and floating fishery members are registered or licensed.
Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on what date farmers in the Shropshire area were given notification of the new arrangements for hill livestock payments; what the deadline was for applications for payments under this scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Quin: The proposed hill farm allowance (HFA) for England was outlined in the IACS 2000 booklet, distributed to producers in March 2000. This explained that there was no need for producers to submit specific HFA claims. Detailed guidance, issued to English hill farmers in December 2000, reaffirmed that specific HFA claims are not required. Farmers in the Shropshire areas were treated no differently.
The deadline for submission of an IACS 2000 application was 15 May 2000 and lead to automatic consideration for HFA 2001 using data from IACS, the sheep annual premium scheme, the suckler cow premium scheme and details of milk quota held on 31 March 2000. Some hill farmers will have to supply additional data where we cannot assess automatically their eligibility for HFA payments. They were written to at the end of January and have three weeks in which to reply.
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