In dealing with this question I must first of all say that I will endeavour to divest myself of any prejudice which I may have against tariffs as a general principle. I agree with Deputy Heffernan when he says that the dairying industry is the key industry of this country. From dairying radiate our live-stock, our poultry and our pig industries, and if we neglect the dairying industry, if we let it drop, there is no question about the effect it will have on our agricultural exports as a whole.
I have read the Report of the Commission on this butter tariff, and I have read it, as I have said, without prejudice. I have endeavoured to find in that Report justification for a tariff in the future. I have utterly failed to get a line in that Report which justifies a future tariff. I think the House saw when this motion was first brought on that something was necessary to be done in order to get the dairying industry out of the mess which it got itself into in the last two years. I do not desire for one moment to lay the blame on any particular shoulders. I do not say that the people did not act for the best, but in my opinion one of the most obvious things that should have been done in order to assist the dairying industry, and especially our export of butter, has been overlooked by all those who up to the present in Commissions and otherwise have endeavoured to help this industry. The first claim that those seeking a tariff could make has been scouted by the Commission. There is no justification for it, and in the recommendation of the Commission they say:—"On the grounds that increased winter prices for milk are necessary to stimulate winter production and that the adoption of winter dairying will result in a net gain in national wealth, we have come to the conclusion that a tariff might be granted." That word "might" seems to be the whole outlook of the Commission. It is a very weak word, and no weaker than the case that has been made out for a tariff generally.
Our butter production is valued in this report at £12,000,000. The value of the butter dealt with by the I.A.C. in 1928 was £2,500,000. The value of the butter dealt with by the I.A.C. in 1930 was £2,000,000. In both Reports of the I.A.C. for 1928 and for 1930 we have these figures. There is a lapse of two years in the accounts. In both Reports I find a most extraordinary thing. In the Report for 1928 you will find on page 23 under the heading of "Advertising" the following:—
"During the flush period full page advertisements were inserted in four important trade papers in Great Britain. These, with continual circularising from the Head Office, have undoubtedly helped considerably to make our organisation better known in Great Britain. Of course, such advertising, though helpful, is entirely inadequate to meet the intense advertising propaganda carried on unceasingly in Great Britain by our competitors. Continental exporters, by attractive window displays, show-cards, etc., in the retail shops, keep their butters, which are almost household words, prominently before the public. Colonial shippers, both New Zealand and Australian, conduct a very clever campaign in the daily and evening papers. Much of the work done this season has not yet shown full results, but there is no doubt whatever that the beneficial results will be felt next season, and that the position of Free State creamery butter will be still further improved in consequence."
Now that is the Report for 1928, and I turn to the Report of the I.A.C. for 1930 and on the same section of that Report I find that under the heading of "Advertising," in page 19, the paragraph that was in the 1928 Report is lifted in its entirety and republished in the Report for 1930. What were these people thinking of between 1928 and 1930? They pointed out to the Dáil and the people generally the necessity for a subsidy for advertising Irish butter and then they took this thing in the actual type the same as what was printed in 1928 and republished it again in 1930? What do I want to prove from that? That the export of Irish butter has been in the lands of people who do not understand the value of advertising their products, of people who made no attempt to advertise Irish products. When they find that they have failed in that respect, instead of coming to this House and asking for a subsidy for advertising Irish goods they go and repeat in 1930 the same thing that they stated in 1928.
On a few former occasions when dealing with the export of Irish butter I introduced amendments. On one occasion I introduced an amendment to a Bill. I think it was the Fresh Meat Bill. My amendment was that a certain amount of money should be spent on advertising. On that occasion my amendment was ruled out because of its financial character, no private member having a right to introduce it. On another occasion I introduced an amendment in another Bill in the matter of advertising Irish goods and I was told that the Government had already complete power, without the need of putting anything into a Bill, to spend what they liked upon advertising Irish goods. My opinion is that the mainstay of this country is its agricultural produce. We are living by our agricultural exports.
It is one of the reproaches thrown at the Government from the Opposition Benches that we are living by the sale of agricultural produce and that we are providing England with cheap foodstuffs. England does not want cheap foodstuffs from us. England is prepared to pay the highest price for our articles if we can supply her with the highest quality. This butter question can be settled in two ways. The first of these is rigid inspection, not that I believe the present inspection is loose. I believe that the butter we are producing here is as good an article as the butter produced in any country in the world and it should be put on the market in England not as an inferior article, as it has been for years, but as the best in the world. Our butter is the very best in the world. We should demand the highest price for it, and do not make any mistake about that. If we can prove to John Bull that we are producing the best article and in the best way, our prices will be higher, instead of producing butter as we are at present without a name. We are not exporting Irish butter. Our butter is not sold as Irish butter and the people in England do not know that Irish butter is the best in the world. That is because we do not advertise the fact. This whole question resolves itself into this, that we want to make it worth the while of the Irish farmer to produce butter and the only way in which the Irish farmer can produce this Irish butter is to secure that the highest price is got for his export.
I went over a very interesting table in the Report of the Tariff Commission. It is Appendix 6. It is a summary of the yearly imports of butter into the United Kingdom (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) from certain countries. It contains the complete return for the years from 1923 to 1930. In the year 1923 the quantity imported into Great Britain from Denmark was 1,862,000 cwts. and from the Irish Free State 492,000 cwts., and so on—we have the figures right along. These are the things to which I want to draw the attention of the House specially. The average price of Danish butter in 1923 was 181/-; Irish Free State butter, 152/-; 1924, Danish, 209/-; Irish, 178/-; 1925, Danish, 206/-; Free State, 183/-; 1926, Danish, 180/-; Free State, 155/-; 1927, Danish, 177/-; Free State, 156/-; 1928, Danish, 185/-; Free State, 162/-; 1929, Danish, 179/-; Free State, 162/-; 1930, Danish, 149/-; Free State, 126/-. That is by comparison with the Danish. If we compare it with the average price of butter for Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Russia, New Zealand, the Argentine and other countries, we find that in all cases Irish butter in England is below the average price of these countries.
These are some facts that were not before the Tariff Commission, but they are facts that the country must take note of. It is not by a tariff of 4d. in the lb. that you are going to restore Irish butter to its proper place and to encourage the Irish farmer. I can conceive a set of circumstances in which butter under tariff conditions would be dangerous for the Irish butter industry. But if we take the figures I have quoted, and assume for a moment that we had raised our standard of butter in the British market up to the Danish standard, that is to say, that we were getting as high a price for Irish butter in the market as the Danes were getting since 1923, the difference in the figures brings out a very interesting thing. We exported 492,000 cwts. of butter in 1923, and had we got the Danish price we would have received, over and above what we did receive, £713,400; in 1924, we would have got £714,550 more; in 1925, £463,450 more; in 1926, £620,000 more; in 1927, £615,000 more; in 1928, £642,000 more; in 1929, £481,000 more, and in 1930, £594,000 more. On the whole, there is an average loss, by the fact that we are not putting our butter on the market as the best in the world, of nearly three-quarters of a million in the year, which represents the difference in price of Irish and Danish butter. There is a difference in price compared with any other butter on the market.
I think this idea of cold storing Irish butter as against winter consumption at home is a very foolish one. To prove it, although the Tariff Commission have recommended the tariff more or less on the ground that we should reserve a certain amount for home consumption, they say in paragraph 14, page 10:—
The extra production in June, July and August over and above the May standard of production must, therefore, be sold at disadvantageous prices to induce purchase, and sometimes, perhaps, has to be sold to speculators whose marketing of the butter later in the season, when prices tend to rise, may have a depressing effect on the prices then obtainable for the Saorstát supplies coming on the market.
In other words, we market out butter to speculators who cold store it at certain times, and afterwards release that butter in competition with fresh Irish butter and depress the price of that fresh Irish on the English market. That is not the way that Irish butter should be marketed. We should not send out butter to speculators. We are within a short distance of the principal market. Surely if we are going to organise this matter we should have a proper Marketing Board on the other side. We should not be in the position of handing over our butter, once it gets to the North Wall, to English speculators to deal with as they like, not as Irish butter, but as butter to be dumped, knowing very well that the speculator in England is sure of his profit, and the Irishman marketing here does not know what the value of the butter is, but takes his information from the speculator who is humbugging him all the time. Until the marketing is done at the other side we cannot get a higher price. Until we advertise to the British people that our export is the best in the world, and we can stand over that by not relaxing our effort in inspecting butter here and seeing that none but the best is exported, we cannot compete successfully with our rivals. I would not object myself to pay a little more for Irish butter than for foreign butter, but it is not fair to victimise the poor people here and to make them pay a higher price when there is another way of dealing with the situation. Suppose we continued with this tariff, we must remember that one of the great obstacles to assisting industries by tariffs is this: that once you put on a tariff people will rest content with the extra price because they are protected from competition, and not alone will they be satisfied with the protection of the price, but there is no incentive to produce a better article. If this tariff remains on for four or five years, I can conceive a set of circumstances in which Irish butter would drift back to that quality which we were producing 40 years ago, when it was only used for cart grease, before the creameries were established; a set of circumstances by which, if you keep the tariff on, the quality of butter through carelessness in the manufacture would deteriorate so much that it would take as a quarter of a century, as it did in the past, to restore it to its proper place in the market.
I hold that we should take this question outside the realm of Party politics, outside the discussion of tariffs as a whole, treat it as a key industry, as the important industry on which all out other agricultural industries hinge, settle down to it, and not say, "We are content with a tariff." I do not want this tariff taken off immediately. I do not advocate it, or intend to vote against the tariff, for the reason that it has been an expedient to get them out of their difficulty. But I want the House to say that we are going to tackle this question in a different way; that we are going to set up a proper inquiry board to see what are the prospects of putting butter on the market, with the full power of the Government behind it to advertise it and to make it known all over the world. If we do that, I am perfectly certain that the Irish butter will hold first place in the English market, that there will be a rush to dairying in this country, and that you will have an increase in the number of small farms which I would like to see all over the country. Some of the larger ranches would be broken up into small farms, because dairying is really a cash industry to the small farmer, who is the backbone of the country.
The Commission stressed the question of quality, reputation and supply. I stress the question of quality in the first place. We must see that the quality of our butter is right. Then we come to No. 2, which is reputation. I cannot understand a body dealing with this question that spoke about reputation and forgot to say anything about advertising. How are we to make our reputation? Remember this. The people who buy our products in the English market and in the Irish market do not know anything about our reputation unless we tell them. We want to tell them that we are producing the best goods in the world, and it is up to us to maintain our reputation for producing the best goods in the world. The English people who buy our butter do not know anything about that, and 90 per cent. of the people in this country do not know anything about it. There are people buying Danish butter here to-day because the Danish advertise it as the best butter in the world, and these people turn down Irish butter. Attention was drawn in the Northern Parliament a few days ago to the fact that stamps used in the North of Ireland had the words on them: "Buy Danish bacon, the best in the world." And here we are and would not even let our people know that Irish bacon and Irish butter are the best in the world. I believe the Government is to blame for not providing the money to advertise Irish products, and to see that our reputation is held good before the world.
There is one other important point to which I would refer. On page 17, paragraph 29 of the Tariff Commission Report deals with "Prospects for the Saorstát Dairying Industry." When we are discussing tariffs and how to manage Irish industry and how to encourage the Irish farmer to put more money into his pocket we have this extraordinary statement of the Tariff Commission, as a result I have no doubt of evidence gleaned on this side of the water and on the other. It says:
"It cannot be too strongly emphasised that the export market is capable of absorbing a much greater quantity of freshly-made Saorstát butter of high quality than the present output, and, in fact, if double that amount were available for export in regular quantities, Saorstát butter would occupy a more favourable position."
Now from that it will be seen that if double the quantity were available we could market it. I know the argument will be put up against that of regular supplies. People are under the impression, and it is mentioned in one of those reports in a casual way, that one of the difficulties in marketing Irish butter and that the Marketing Board had to contend with was not being able to maintain a regular supply right through the twelve months of the year. There is perhaps something to be said for that. But that is not by any means the real kernel of the question. If we attempt by a tariff to encourage winter dairying in the hope of being able to maintain regular supplies to the English market for twelve months we might have the set of circumstances that I have dealt with before, where the quality of our butter has gone down. But there is no reason why we should not get a higher price in the English market for our butter supplied for the nine months we do supply if we set our faces against one thing and that is cold storage. Saorstát fresh butter can be marketed according to the statement of the Tariff Commission in double the quantity we can supply. Why not advertise the fact that our butter is not cold storage butter, but that it is the best fresh butter in the world. Let the people know that we are supplying them with the best grass-fed butter, the best thing in the world, manufactured under the best and most hygienic conditions. If we were able to tell the people that the stuff they are getting is not cold stored, but straight from the farm to the breakfast table, our people will no doubt get a price far in excess of the Danish price and in addition would be able to hold the market.
I again appeal to the House on all sides to take this matter very seriously into consideration. The butter industry is a key industry and we are all depending upon it. It is worth twelve millions of money and is feeding other industries running up to fifty millions. If we tackled this successfully I have no doubt we will not be complaining of an adverse trade balance in the future. Let us tackle this without prejudice and without Party feeling. Let us divest ourselves of all feeling except that of trying to get this key industry and kindred industries on a proper footing. If we do that outside of politics I have no doubt the country will be one of the very best circumstanced in the world. We can make it one with security behind it such that no other country can touch in the future.