§ 44. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the level of hill sheep farmers' income in(a) the last five years and (b) the next five years.
§ Mr. Gummer
As with all types of farm, the incomes of sheep farmers in the hill areas are influenced by a wide range of factors, including the weather, market conditions, size of enterprise and the skills of individual farmers. As a result, there have been fluctuations in income levels over the last five years, and there will no doubt be further fluctuations over the next five years. However, the outcome of the reform of the sheepmeat regime was highly satisfactory in providing increased opportunities for our sheep industry as a whole, including producers in hill areas. Producers in the high hills will also benefit from the proposed increase in the rate of hill livestock compensatory allowance for hardy breed ewes, which I announced in my statement to the House on 30 January.