§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received about seasonal variations in the price of beef and consequent shortages; and if he will make a statement about any proposals to alter support arrangements in order to ensure that there is a more even supply of beef throughout the year.
§ Mr. Donald Thompson
The ending of the beef variable premium has removed from the support regime an element which included seasonal variation. However, in practice the rate of premium remained fixed at its maximum rate for extended periods which limited its impact. Under the present arrangements the EC Commission has at its disposal measures designed to moderate fluctuations in beef supply. It can release beef from intervention stocks onto the market when supplies are short or introduce aids to private storage to hold beef off the market in times of over supply. We and other member states encourage the Commission to make use of these provisions as appropriate to market circumstances.