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Arable Farms Subsidy Scheme

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what changes he forecasts in the subsidy regime affecting arable farmers from 2001 to 2005. [155780]

Ms Quin: Under the Agenda 2000 agreement the cereals regime is due to be reviewed in 2002. In those discussions, which will also cover a number of other sectors, the Government will continue to press their CAP reform agenda, with a view to improving the balance of supply and demand and bringing EU prices closer to world levels.

Herbivore Farm Animals

Mr. Pike: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will ensure that herbivore farm animals are not fed animal by-products; and if he will make a statement. [155965]

Ms Quin: It is already an offence, under the Animal By-Products Order 1999, to feed to ruminants either catering waste containing meat or meat products or unprocessed animal by-products.

Mammalian meat and bone meal may not be fed to any farmed animals. Draft legislation prohibiting the feeding of poultry and fish meal to ruminants had been prepared.

Subsidy Fraud

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how widespread is the practice of moving sheep from farm to farm in order to collect subsidy fraudulently; and if he will make a statement. [156072]

Ms Quin: We are aware of the possibility of such practices occurring and my staff are instructed to look for evidence of this when carrying out on-farm inspections to check sheep subsidy claims.

We have no evidence that such practices are widespread. In England in 2000 we initiated prosecution procedures in two such cases.

Abattoirs

Mr. Webb: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will investigate the prices being paid to farmers by abattoirs; and if he will make it his policy to ensure that abattoirs do not exploit their monopoly position. [156135]

Ms Quin [holding answer 29 March 2001]: The added costs involved in the livestock slaughter scheme currently being absorbed by the abattoir sector are substantial and these have to be taken into account. These costs include the reduction in throughput due to cleaning and disinfection procedures in the lairage, more thorough ante and post mortem inspections for foot and mouth disease and reduced supplies of available livestock. MAFF is now aware that abattoirs are operating as a monopoly but any evidence of this should be reported to the Office of Fair Trading.

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Pigfeed

Mr. Steen: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to ensure that meat and bonemeal is not fed to pigs; what enforcement measures exist; and if he will make a statement. [156157]

Ms Quin: In March 1996 the use of mammalian meat and bonemeal (MMBM) was banned in all feed for farmed animals.

Responsibility for enforcement rests with local authorities. In addition, the State Veterinary Service carries out a feed sampling programme, which involves the collection and testing, for the presence of mammalian protein, of 20,000 feed samples a year to ensure compliance.

Beef Imports

Mr. Luff: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the countries from which the import and sale of beef is considered unsafe on animal health grounds; and if he will make a statement. [156382]

Ms Quin [holding answer 30 March 2001]: Specific restrictions on imports of beef from Portugal, France, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Swaziland and Argentina are currently in place because of the disease situations in those countries. Beef may be imported from other EM member states 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 table shown. Beef cannot be imported into the UK from any third country which is not on this list.



Agriculture

Mr. Watts: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what level of (a) Government and (b) EU subsidy the agricultural sector received in (a) 1996, (b) 1997, (c) 1998, (d) 1999 and (e) 2000. [156266]

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Ms Quin [holding answer 30 March 2001]: The following table sets out (a) total CAP expenditure in the UK, (b) the UK Exchequer funded element of CAP expenditure, and (c) national expenditure on other agricultural grants and subsidies, for the financial years 1996-97 to 2000-01.

£ million

Total CAP expenditure in the UK-of which: UK Exchequer fundedOther national expenditure on agricultural grants and subsidies
1996-974,2037540
1997-983,4559137
1998-993,35010526
1999-20002,99213930
2000-013,00514434

Note:

The second column of data does not include the UK Exchequer contribution to expenditure on HLCA's (Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances), although total expenditure on HLCA's is included in the first column.


Flooding

Mr. Ian Taylor: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps are being taken to (a) compensate and (b) assist riparian owners for repair and maintenance of river banks and islands for damage caused by flood water. [156437]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 2 April 2001]: The repair and maintenance of watercourses and surrounding land is the responsibility of the riparian owner, though on some rivers such work is undertaken by the relevant flood defence operating authority, that is the Environment Agency, local authority or internal drainage board.

Veterinary Service

Mr. Harvey: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many (a) vets and (b) support staff there were in the veterinary service in (i) 1971, (ii) 1979, (iii) 1997 and (iv) 2001. [156467]

Ms Quin [holding answer 2 April 2001]: The number of veterinary surgeons employed by the State Veterinary Service in 1971 could be identified only at disproportionate cost. The other information sought (full-time equivalents) is as follows:




The numbers of MAFF officials involved in support also could be identified only at disproportionate cost.

Integrated Administration and Control System

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if it is his intention that farmers filing their IACS returns by electronic mail may prevent their names and addresses from being published in commercial directories. [156679]

4 Apr 2001 : Column: 224W

Ms Quin [holding answer 3 April 2001]: IACS applicants are now able to submit their 2001 IACS forms electronically. This new electronic service from MAFF will deliver much more than a simple e-mail. The forms have built in intelligence, which checks the validity and consistency of the data entered, and calculates totals automatically. There is also an on-line help facility which will guide applicants through completion of the forms. We hope this will make it easier and quicker to complete the forms, and at the same time reduce the scope for making errors.

The electronic IACS service is secure. Applicants will only be able to view their own data, and will submit their forms using their own unique digital signature, which also encrypts the data sent. An acknowledgement that their forms have been submitted successfully will be received electronically within minutes.

Data captured for IACS through this new electronic service are subject to the same requirements for confidentiality as the paper IACS forms and we do not publish or otherwise make these details available to commercial interests.

Hill Farm Allowance

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what factors he took into account in changing the minimum land holding for grant qualification by introducing the hill farm allowance. [156865]

Ms Quin: In deciding to increase the minimum area requirement from 3 ha to 10 ha we took account of comments received during public consultation and of an independent evaluation of the previous hill livestock compensatory allowance scheme. This suggested that very small farms are less in need of aid than farms in higher size categories. They are less likely to be full-time farm businesses and have a significantly higher proportion of occupiers with off-farm income.


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