Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Bill, 1934—Report and Final Stages.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendments Nos. 3 and 4:—

In Section 53 (1) (b) (which section relates to "Minimum prices for home-grown barley") to delete the words "barrel of sixteen stones" and substitute the word "hundredweight."

In Section 54 (1) (b) (which section relates to "Minimum prices for home-grown barley") to delete the words "barrel of sixteen stones" and substitute the word "hundredweight."

These amendments are moved for the purpose of changing the measure from a barrel to a hundredweight because the barrel is not known in certain parts of the country. The hundredweight is more generally known.

Amendments put and agreed to.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment Nos. 5 and 6:—

At the end of Section 56 (which relates to "Milling (composite flour) order") to add a new sub-section as follows:—

No product of the milling of a mixture of wheat and oat-kernels made in pursuance of a milling (composite flour) order shall be a compound feeding stuff within the meaning of Section 8 of the Principal Act.

Before Section 62 (2) (which section relates to "Sale (composite flour) orders") to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

Flour which, in pursuance of a sale (composite flour) order, contains standard milk powder shall not be a compound feeding stuff within the meaning of Section 8 of the Principal Act.

These amendments arise out of a question put by Deputy Bennett on the Committee Stage with the object of ensuring that a miller of flour could not be taken up under the Compound Feeding Stuffs Regulations.

Amendments put and agreed to.

There are two amendments standing on the Order Paper in my name.

I understood that only Government amendments would be taken.

Except where the Minister indicated his intention of accepting them.

Dr. Ryan

I could not accept them.

Will the Minister examine them with a view to producing something similar in the Seanad if that be possible?

Dr. Ryan

I do not intend to move such amendments in the Seanad.

Very well; I shall not touch them.

Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I should like to bring again before the Minister's notice the question which I have already raised in connection with small country mills. The Minister said in the course of the proceedings on the Committee Stage that this Bill would apply to small country millers who worked on commission. Very many of these mills work on commission, but the commission is paid in kind. I should like if some way out were found in the Seanad by which these mills would be eliminated from the scope of the Bill. They are too small and it would entail enormous trouble, both to the Department and the millers, to apply the Bill to them. I should like if some way were found in the Seanad to exclude them.

I should like to know from the Minister before this Bill finally passes if he will have the same considerations in mind in fixing a minimum price for oats and barley, as he indicated yesterday that he would have in mind in fixing the price for beef and mutton. Oats and barley produce beef and mutton. He proposes to fix the minimum price for beef and mutton at a figure arrived at after the British tariff is deducted from the price, less the bounty paid. That would be roughly a price of 25 to 30 per cent. less than the ordinary market price. Is he going to transmit that lowering of price to the feeding stuffs that produce beef and mutton? There are two reasons why I raise this question. The first is that if that is not done, stall feeding must finish. I do not mean finished cattle, but that stall-feeding as an industry cannot go on if feeders are compelled to pay a price for oats and barley that will not be remunerative when turned into beef and mutton. Obviously, if the price of feeding stuffs is artificially placed higher than the finished product, no finished product can be produced. That is the principal reason. Further, if people have a fixed price for oats and barley or for any raw material and they can sell that raw material instead of using it up to produce a further finished article at a loss, obviously they will not produce that further finished article, but they will sell the feeding stuffs as feeding stuffs. The result will be that there will be no market and the Minister will have to operate the drastic clauses in this Bill, which he says he is going to operate, but he will have no market. I should like to have from the Minister some formula as to how he is to fix the price before the Bill finally passes.

Dr. Ryan

With regard to the small oat mills mentioned by Deputy McMenamin, I have had that question very fully considered in the time available since the Committee Stage, and I cannot find any way out of having these mills compelled to register. If, however, they are not buying oats as dealers or selling oatmeal on the market, there will be no further trouble put on them in any way. There will be no records. They are not obliged to keep any records in that case except the ordinary books in which they may keep entries of the oats they take in. Obviously, however, if they go into bigger business and begin selling oatmeal they will have to come under the provisions of the Bill. Having discussed the matter with the officials of the Department and the draftsman, I cannot see how any exemption could be made that might not be dangerous, because if we were to exempt a mill that was milling on commission alone there would be nothing to prevent one of the biggest merchants in the country employing one of the biggest millers in the country to mill on commission and so escape the provisions of the Bill. The whole question is very difficult and we shall further consider it to see if anything can be done. We are considering it at the moment.

With regard to the point raised by Deputy Belton, I think we have already discussed this matter of how prices are to be fixed. If possible, the first consideration will be the cost of production. There are other considerations, too, as I already mentioned here, including the cost of maize as far as it can be taken into consideration and naturally we must take into consideration what the feeder is able to pay, because if the feeder is not able to buy stuff, then the whole scheme falls down. We must, therefore, take that into consideration.

You must take what?

Dr. Ryan

What the feeder is able to pay for feeding stuffs.

Well, then, will the key to the position of fixing the price of oats and barley be the fixed price for beef?

Dr. Ryan

Not altogether. I was just going to deal with that point. The feeder of pigs, perhaps, is more concerned because he is a purchaser of feeding stuffs. I think it has been always held in this House, and probably held justly, that a stall feeder cannot carry on unless he is doing a certain amount of tillage. He cannot carry on without tillage.

Andvice versa. The tillage man cannot carry on without stall feeding.

Dr. Ryan

It is notvice versa because the feeder of pigs comes in.

He is not stall feeding.

Dr. Ryan

I mean he is not a feeder of cattle. The stall feeder of cattle, therefore, is practically, if you like to put it that way, a self-sufficient farmer and he is not so much concerned with the price of oats and barley.

The Minister will excuse me asking him a further question but this is why I raised the point. Say that I were a mixed farmer engaged in stall feeding in the winter and that I had a lot of oats and barley. If I find out that by your method of fixing a price for oats and barley, I would get more by selling that stuff in that market you provide for me, rather than feeding it to my cattle and selling them in a depressed market, would I not naturally as a business man—or even if I had not the intelligence myself to see it as a business man, my banker would make me have the intelligence— sell that stuff rather than feed it to animals? Is there not a danger that men of the type I instance will dump their stuff into the market and make this Bill unworkable, if you are endeavouring to fix a price for the ordinary corn that changes hands? You do not want to increase the exchange of corn internally. You want it used on the farm. If you fix the price at a figure over that which would pay to feed cattle, all the corn will be thrown on the market and there will be nobody feeding it. The maximum price will be the minimum price. You will run the risk of the whole scheme breaking down unless you maintain the balance that is there at present. The only way you can do that is to fix a price for the raw material in the closest possible relation with the finished article.

Dr. Ryan

That is one of the big considerations. If the Deputy would read the report of the tribunal which inquired into this question very fully, he would find that they dealt at length with the danger of bringing on the market oats and barley which up to now the grower had fed to his own stock. There are about 15,000,000 cwts. of oats produced, of which not more than 2,000,000 cwts. come on the market. We do not want to increase that. If the stall-feeder cannot afford to buy oats and barley and still wants to stall-feed, he will grow these crops himself. If, on the other hand, people have oats and barley to sell and we find that the price is too high and that we have to lower it, we will come to a stage when it does not pay them to sell and they have either to stop tillage or feed to their own stock. These things will, I think, right themselves.

If the Minister anticipates that they will right themselves, he must adopt the same basis in fixing the price for cereals that he has done in the case of meat. The cereals must bear the British tariff in fixing the minimum price, as beef must bear the British tariff, less the bounty, while that tariff remains. Is not that the position?

Dr. Ryan

That is taken into consideration.

Now that the market is practically open will the Minister give some information of the steps he is taking to regulate the price and will he give an idea of what the producer will get for his oats and barley? The market will be open some of these days and I should like to know what steps the Minister is taking and what price he proposes to fix.

Dr. Ryan

I shall have to wait and see. I have no power to fix prices until this Bill becomes law.

You gave us an indication in the case of the other Acts.

Dr. Ryan

When we see what oats and barley are selling at, if the price be too low, we may give some indication that we propose to fix a higher price and advise farmers to hold on until this Bill is through. If they are getting a higher price than we propose to fix, we shall say nothing.

I understand that the price will open at 8/6 a barrel.

Dr. Ryan

If that is the case, we shall have to make an announcement.

Question put and agreed to.