asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will state whether the news item which appeared in the daily newspapers of the 6th instant that dairy farmers are to be paid an extra penny per gallon for milk supplied to creameries is correct; and, if so, on what basis he arrived at that figure, in view of the fact that more than half of it will be necessary to meet the increased cost of running the creameries this year, and that the increase in the minimum wages and other emoluments of farm workers since the present price of milk was fixed, is more than 50 per cent.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Milk Price Increase.
In regard to the first part of the question, I would refer the Deputy to the reply which I gave to Questions Nos. 25 and 26 yesterday.
As regards the second part of the question, I am satisfied that the increase of 1d. per gallon on the summer price of milk supplied to creameries, coupled with a long term guarantee, is sufficient to provide a stable and remunerative return to farmers over the next five years.
In view of the fact that labour costs, including wages and amenities, have increased by over 50 per cent. since the present price of milk was fixed, and that this increase over a year works out at three farthings per gallon, does the Minister consider that this is a sufficient increase to give milk producers?
In all the circumstances obtaining at the moment, my answer to the Deputy must be yes.
Would the Minister endeavour to reconcile the offer to the milk suppliers of an increase of three farthings a gallon with the decision of the Government to give an increase of £1,000 a year to the chairman of the Electricity Supply Board?
That seems to travel a little far afield.
Might I ask did the Minister consult with the representatives of the co-operative industry who recently met him before arriving at this decision to give a meagre increase of 1d. per gallon for the summer months for milk? Did the Minister get the approval of the deputation which met him to this increase before he decided on it?
The highest recommendation of the Government's decision with regard to the price of milk is that it satisfied nobody—the consumer, the producer or anybody else. That suggests to me that it must be wholly excellent.