CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - POTATO FARMING IN ATHLONE.

SEAN O LAIDHIN

To ask the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware that thousands of tons of potatoes—of a superior quality for seed—are grown round Athlone; whether he is aware the farmers in this district have a large supply for exportation, and if it is intended to allow the importation of foreign seed; further, as the farmers in the Athlone district have principally to depend on potato farming, will he see they get a market for their produce.

I am aware that some farmers in the neighbourhood of Athlone make a speciality of growing potatoes for seed purposes, and that where these potatoes are grown on bog soil their value as seed is thereby enhanced. The difficulty of finding a market for these potatoes this year is, no doubt, due to the fact that the yield of the potato crop of last season, not only in Ireland, but also in Great Britain and Continental countries, has been above the average, with the result that there is a considerable surplus of potatoes in the principal potato growing districts.

The Ministry of Agriculture have no legal powers to prohibit the importation of seed potatoes, except in so far as is necessary to prevent the introduction of disease.