§ Mr. Soames
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the outcome of the 1986 annual review of agriculture.
§ Mr. Jopling
A White Paper setting out the conclusions of the 1986 annual review of agriculture will be laid before Parliament today. The White Paper shows that gross output in current prices is forecast to decrease about 5 per cent. from £12,550 million in 1984 to £11,883 million in 1985. Aggregate farming income during 1985 fell by 43 per cent. following the 35 per cent. increase in 1984. Farm business income, a broader based measure, declined by 25 per cent. following a 27 per cent. increase in 1984. The industry's labour productivity declined by 3 per cent. compared to an average annual growth rate of 7 per cent. over the last decade.
These adverse trends are largely the result of the exceptional weather conditions experienced in 1985 which particularly affected Scotland, Northern Ireland and the hill and upland areas of Wales and Northern England.
The cereals harvest was 4.3 million tonnes below the record level in 1984 and there were marked reductions in farming incomes in the cattle and sheep, cereals and other cropping sectors. Community policies aimed at restraining production were also contributing factors.