§ Miss McIntosh
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received on the impact of recent severe weather conditions on potato and sugar beet crops. 
§ Ms Quin
There have been a small number of representations specifically addressing the impact of the recent severe weather on potato crops although none specifically in relation to sugar beet. The National Farmers Union has also made representations about these crops where they are on land which is to be set aside under the Arable Area Payments Scheme in 2001. Under EU rules, these crops have to be harvested by 15 January to allow the land to be set aside. However, as the bad weather has seriously delayed the harvest, my right hon. Friend the Minister wrote to Commissioner Fischler. As a result, the Commission has made a regulation which, where the adverse weather has prevented an earlier harvest, permits any crop to be harvested up to 28 February and potatoes and sugar beet to be harvested up to 31 March on land which is to be set aside in 2001. As required by the EU regulation, any farmer who wishes to take advantage of this should contact his/her MAFF Regional Service Centre.