asked the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware that Free State growers of apples have on hands large stocks of this season's crop which they cannot dispose of except at wholly unprofitable prices, if he can state whether this is due to the large imports of foreign apples; and if he will take any action with a view to providing a fair price for the home-grown fruit.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Disposal of Home-grown Apples.
I am aware that at this time of the year there is generally a surplus of home-grown apples, accompanied by low prices. Prices are, however, improving according as supplies of the better graded apples are coming on to the market.
The low prices are not due to any increase in imports, which have, in fact, declined since a Customs duty of 1d. per lb. was imposed under the Finance Act, 1933.
With regard to the last part of the question, a tribunal is at present investigating the whole position in regard to the marketing of fruit and vegetables. As soon as their report is furnished it will receive immediate consideration with a view to seeing what can be done in regard to the grading, packing and marking of fruit, and the provision of marketing facilities to secure to the producer an equitable return.
Arising out of the Minister's reply, are we to understand that the consumption of apples in this country is declining?
No. I did not say that.
I understood the Minister to say that the imports of apples were declining rather than increasing——
That is right.
——and that a heavy surplus of domestic apples remains on the market. Does the Minister infer from that that the consumption of apples is declining?
No. I did not even infer it.