§ 9. Mr. Knapman
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the introduction of the new beef regime under the reformed CAP.
§ Mr. Knapman
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that there is uncertainty among some 1144 farmers about the marketing of their stock during the transitional period, which I believe will be April and May? Will he comment on that?
§ Mr. Curry
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his comprehension of a very complex scheme. We have arranged for producers to claim premium in respect of April and May at the same time as they apply for their cattle identification documents under the new scheme. The forms are already available at regional offices and will remain available until the end of March.
§ Ms. Walley
Why do we have stockpiles of beef which elderly people in my constituency cannot claim and who fear that that beef is being thrown away? Why can we not have proper criteria to enable people to claim from the beef mountains?
§ Mr. Curry
The hon. Lady will know that there is a scheme for the distribution of beef and butter. It is not a very good scheme and it is not designed to tackle surpluses. Pensioners in the hon. Lady's constituency, like pensioners in mine, will be better served by the regime being reformed in such a way that beef is made more accessible to them; and perhaps we could have rather less panic from Labour Members about how bad beef is to eat, because it is not. The fundamental point of the reform is that we reduce intervention. We are encouraging the specialist producer, and I hope that Labour Members will do their bit by telling people that we produce very good beef and that they should eat more of it.