Pigs and Bacon (Amendment) Bill, 1956—Second Stage (Resumed)

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

When I moved the adjournment last night, I was concerned to direct the attention of the House to a very interesting and important development in the pig and bacon trade of the country. That is the remarkable increase that has taken place in the percentage of grade A pigs now being delivered to the factories in the country at large. In the August-December period of 1955, the proportion of grade A pigs was 54 per cent. of graded pigs delivered to the factories for conversion into bacon.

In the January-March period of 1956, the proportion of grade A pigs delivered to factories was 58 per cent., and in the April-June quarter of 1956, and again in the June-September quarter of 1956, the proportion of grade A pigs rose to 63 per cent. The situation has actually arisen now, it is hard to believe, when certain curers in the south of Ireland would almost say they are getting too many grade A pigs and are at a loss to secure pigs from which stouter grades of bacon can be made.

This is certainly a very dramatic change from the day when we here in Ireland regarded ourselves as being seriously embarrassed by the fact that an undue proportion of over-fat pigs was being delivered to the factories by the farmers. I do not think we should allow this occasion to pass without recording in public our congratulations to the farmers of the country who, in so short a time, have raised the percentage of grade A pigs from 54 per cent. to 63 per cent. I dare express the hope that, if this rate of progress is maintained, our commercial experience of deliveries of grade A pigs to our factories will, in the early forseeable future, rival that of any other country in the world.

As regard pig prices, the export price guarantee scheme has been proving its value recently, and despite reductions in bacon prices on the whole in the export market, the prices received by producers here have been maintained at 235/- per cwt. for grade A and 230/- per cwt. for grade B1 pigs. Producers are assured of these minimum prices. It is the intention of the Government to continue to guarantee a minimum price for grade A pigs and producers may, therefore, with confidence increase their output of pigs in the certainty that, whatever number of pigs they produce, there is no danger of the price collapsing, providing the pigs are grade A pigs.

I should like to add a word in clarification of the true position compared with the position in past times. In the June Census, the total number of pigs in the country fluctuated around the 1,000,000 mark—a little below sometimes, sometimes a little above. Our exports of bacon in 1938 amounted to 545,000 cwts. Our exports of bacon in 1939 amounted to 467,000 cwts. In 1940, our exports of bacon amounted to 562,000 cwts. Then the number of our pigs began to decline, but in the June Census of 1941 we were shown to have 763,000 pigs in the country. In that year, we exported 232,000 cwts. of bacon and 21,000 cwts. of pork. In 1943, we had only 434,000 pigs; in 1944, 380,000; in 1945, 426,000; in 1946, 479,000; in 1947, 456,000; in 1948, 457,000. In 1949, the number of pigs went up to 674,000. In 1950, we had 644,000 pigs and in that year our exports of bacon amounted to 47,949 cwts.

In 1951, I negotiated with the British Government a Pigs and Bacon Agreement and, if I say it myself, it was a very good agreement. Under it, we managed to get a price from the British for pork and bacon which enabled us to pay the farmers of this country, and guarantee to them over a five year period, a highly remunerative price, both for pork and bacon, but especially for pork. The result of that was that the numbers of pigs began to climb and in 1952 we had 719,000; in 1953, 881,000 and in 1954, 958,000. In 1955, we had 798,000 and in June, 1956, we had 742,000. But during the four years of the operation of the Pigs and Bacon Agreement we had the following astonishing exports of pork: in 1952 we exported 106,000 cwts. of pork; in 1953, 335,000 cwts.; in 1954, 290,000 cwts.; and in 1955, 226,000 cwts. Then the agreement came to an end and now our exports of pork are relatively infinitesimal.

I wish the Agreement had not come to an end but when you are making an agreement with a foreign government you must bear in mind that there are two sides to the agreement. They must want what you want to sell and you must be in a position to supply it. The plain fact is now that the British can supply all their own requirements of pork because they are paying their own domestic producers such attractive prices for pork that the British farmers have increased the numbers of pigs immensely, and the fresh pork market, so far as we are concerned, has ceased to be profitable because our pork pigs do not qualify for the guarantees provided by the British Government for their own producers.

Our exports of bacon in 1953-54 were very substantial but there is another interesting point that emerges. Our total pig population, to go back to 1941, was 763,000 as of June, 1941; and in that year we exported 232,000 cwt. of bacon. In 1955, to take the last complete year, we had rather more pigs—798,000 approximately— but because our people's standard of living had risen, they ate all the pigs and we exported only 51,000 cwt. That is a fact which may give us all cause for rejoicing in that our people are now so circumstanced——

Except the Minister for Finance.

——that they can eat all the bacon we are producing as they are eating the greater part of the butter we are producing. But it should spur us to further and better endeavours to increase the quality and quantity of pigs produced so that we can sell them as top grade bacon in the export market in relief of our balance of payments situation, because it is only by expanding production and exports that we can bring the balance of payments situation into balance while, at the same time, maintaining or raising the standard of living of our people.

In conclusion, I would like to direct the attention of the House to one other aspect of this business on behalf of which I bespeak the sympathetic support of Deputies on all sides of the House. Pre-war we had to face the fact that our exports of bacon were being sold in an extensively competitive market abroad and therefore, any advantage enjoyed by our competitors had to be secured if it was physically possible for the Irish Government to secure it, for our own producers. Pre-war, the cheapest cereal food for pigs available in the world was maize and our competitors had free access to the unlimited supplies of that cereal. There was no cereal then known we could grow in our conditions which would compete with maize. Since then, however, new Scandinavian varieties of barley have been evolved and these varieties give a yield on our land and in our climatic conditions which makes home grown barley competitive with foreign grain.

I am, therefore, urging our farmers to aim at expanding pig production in this country on the basis of home grown barley and skim milk to supply the protein element essential to a pig's diet. There may be parts of the country in which the user of potatoes will certainly be desirable. We did have an old ratio that a cwt. of meal was equivalent to three cwt. of potatoes in feeding value and that where the price of potatoes was less than one-third of the price of a cwt. of compound feed it was economic to feed potatoes. I think that situation certainly obtains at the present time and, therefore, where potatoes are abundant, it is undoubtedly economic to boil them, ensile them or to pit them and boil them, and give them to the pigs freshly boiled. Either procedure is eminently practicable. Many co-operative societies now provide services through which steam boilers are sent round to boil potatoes in bulk so helping a farmer to ensile which is a very simple procedure. The potatoes can then be fed as required for the pigs to eat.

If we could persuade our farmers to use home grown barley and skim milk for the production of pigs it would be safe to say for many years ahead that we could expand the barley acreage indefinitely. There is no limit to the amount of home-grown barley that could be profitably consumed in this country. In the present situation we are in a position to guarantee that a farmer who grows more barley than he proposes to use on his own holding will have a guaranteed market at not less than 40/- per barrel for any quantity he produces.

I cannot too strongly emphasise— and I hope others will endorse what I say—that the farmer who grows grain, particularly feeding grain, will get the best profit for himself if he walks it off the land, that is to say, if he feeds it to his own pigs. At the same time there may be farmers who want to grow not only the grain that they intend to convert on their own holdings but a surplus as a cash crop. It is a valuable fact that we can say to them without a limit: "You will be assured of not less than 40/- per barrel for any surplus you have to dispose of."

One of the things which is urgently necessary is that we should get barley grown in the areas of maximum consumption. It is an unfortunate fact that more than 50 per cent. of the entire barley crop of the country is now grown in East Cork and practically none grown in Monaghan, Cavan, Mayo and Kerry—I am speaking now of feeding barley—where large quantities of animal feeding stuffs are required. I would hope to secure in the years that lie ahead an ever-increasing acreage of this particular crop in Donegal, the province of Connacht, Cavan, Monaghan and north Louth so that we could avoid the nightmare of piling transport costs on to a raw material of an exporting industry because to shift barley from Cork to Monaghan or from Cork to Sligo involves transport charges which seriously jeopardise the whole future of the plans we have in mind to substitute home-grown grain for imported feeding stuffs.

I cannot too strongly emphasise— and I feel sure that Deputy Dr. Ryan will confirm this—that it is of vital importance that farmers should recognise that if they have not got skim milk to use with home-grown grain they must find an alternative source for protein which is now happily available in abundance in the form of meat and bone meal. But it is true that some farmers have made the mistake of trying to rear pigs on home-grown grain and potatoes and have been disappointed in the apparent failure of the pigs to thrive. That failure is due to the lack of protein in a diet consisting exclusively of potatoes and barley or, indeed, of potatoes and any other grain. If they used skim milk, and have enough of it, they will get the protein but if they have not got skim milk they must introduce an appropriate quantity of meat and bone meal which I do not think would be excessive if one were to suggest a stone of good meat and bone meal to every cwt. of barley meal they used.

Possibly less. What I am saying is that I do not think a stone would be excessive.

One in ten is enough.

Deputy Dr. Ryan would say one in ten, but certainly I think that between one in ten and one in eight is bound to provide enough. Perhaps, we all could agree on one in nine as being a safe quota——

Start at one in eight and finish at one in ten.

There is not much between us. In any case, a farmer will be well advised if he seeks specific directions. In a matter of this kind farmers can refer to the agricultural adviser or the parish agent in preference to the Minister for Agriculture for the time being no matter how profound that Minister may be.

He may not be a pig expert.

True, but in any case there are men charged with the responsibility. We have just published a new leaflet which Deputies possibly have seen in regard to the production of pigs and in which is to be found the fullest information in relation to these matters. It is available to farmers who can get it by sending a postcard to the Department or who ask the managers of their co-operative societies or bacon factories, all of whom have supplies of the pamphlet which they will distribute free of all cost to anyone who asks for it.

That, I think, covers the case I want to make. I particularly desire to emphasise that I believe we have turned the corner and the pig population is rising again. One bogey has always haunted the mind of the farmers of this country in the past and that was that if they increased the production of pigs the inevitable consequence would be that the price would slump. I want it to go on record now as telling the farmers of this country that no matter what quantity of grade A pigs they produce in the future, whether it is 1,000,000, 2,000,000, 3,000,000 or 4,000,000, there is no possibility of the price slumping now.

The price of grade A pigs is guaranteed and no quantity produced by the Irish farmer will operate to precipitate a slump in the price. That bogey is dead and that ought to be a great encouragement to farmers in all parts of the country to put their shoulders to the wheel and increase the output of this commodity for which we have an unlimited market and which can be rapidly expanded to the great advantage of the farmers themselves and the nation as a whole.

I am not clear in regard to the last point. How long does the guarantee last?

The existing guarantee lasts until the 31st of next March and I have no reason to anticipate that it will not be extended for a year further and thereafter it will be renewed annually but with very full notice. Farmers will get good notice in advance of what the price is going to be.

On that point, instead of guaranteeing for, say, a year, I think the best form of guarantee for the farmers would be to say the guarantee lasts until notice is given. That would give the farmers ample time.

What notice would the Deputy suggest?

It would want to be 12 months, but perhaps 12 months might be too great a burden, but perhaps the notice could be a nine-months' notice. As the Minister and everybody knows, if a farmer is fattening his sow to breed, by the time the progeny is fit for the market a period of ten or 12 months would have elapsed. Really, the farmers would want to be given 12 months' notice. The Minister has a better opportunity of considering that with the officials than I and I would ask him to consider that point and see whether he could not put it into the guarantee, not that he is going to extend it to the 31st of March but that he is extending it until notice is given and that the notice will not be less than 12 months, if possible. The Minister has better machinery for and a better opportunity of considering those things than an ordinary Deputy and I would like if the Minister would consider that matter and let us know if something on that line could be done on the further stages of the Bill or, perhaps, put into the Bill.

The Minister said the Bill dealt with three points and point No. 1 concerned colour. Those of us who have put through various Acts of Parliament will agree that every Act, either implicitly or explicitly, made it illegal to have a black pig.

A colour bar.

Yes. In fact, we legislated here for the large white pig and no other would be allowed, but in spite of that there are black pigs in the country. It may not be unfair to say that a black pig cannot be kept or sold but it is going to be wasteful to say the least of it. If these pigs have to be destroyed, and no use is made of them, it would be a great waste. Therefore, I think we should give one more warning of a few months in order to get rid of those pigs. Give people a chance to fatten them off in four or five months, or whatever the period might be, and then let it be absolutely illegal to rear them, and provide heavy penalties for having a black pig.

The Minister may bring this Bill into operation at a certain date. However, as that clause is worded, the Bill must come into operation as a whole or not at all. If the Minister would agree with what I say about giving a warning in connection with the black pig— not that I have any sympathy with those who keep black pigs, but just in the interests of economy and to ensure that we would make some use of those that are there—then I think we shall have to alter the wording regarding the bringing of this Act into operation. He may have to fix different dates for different clauses, or sections, as the case may be.

The big thing in this Bill is the matter of a fixed price. At the moment, the Minister is operating under emergency powers. We are changing over from emergency powers to permanent legislation. In itself, that is good. I think every Party in this House is anxious to see the Emergency Powers Act done away with and to make it unnecessary to have that Act. At the same time, we recognise the value of certain powers taken under that Act and these powers will have to be put into some permanent legislation before the Act is finally rescinded. Therefore, so far as the legislation is concerned, we are going in the right direction.

We all know that there was a very drastic reduction in the price of any pig below grade A standard. The Minister tells us that, as a result of fixing this price, the farmers did their utmost to bring their pigs into the grade A class. The Minister says the figures show that the farmers have been very successful and that, in recent months, they have been able to bring two-thirds of their pigs into the grade A class. We are told that certain curers will be asked to state— they have not approached it yet, I believe—the position as regards the cutting out of stout bacon. I believe there will be no difficulty in getting it if a better price is given.

I hope they will not.

I should not like to see it go off the market. I do not like lean bacon at all. If curers want stout bacon, there will be no difficulty in getting it. Any farmer will tell you that if he could fatten his pig for another two or three weeks, and thus make it a few stone heavier, he would get more profit as a result of the extra few stone than he would as a result of his work in the preceding few months. Consumers in general are looking for grade A bacon. In all probability, as time goes on, we shall want a bigger and bigger percentage of grade A bacon produced if we desire to sell it at a good price.

The Minister gave a good many interesting figures to us this afternoon. I should like very much to have these figures tabulated and presented in such a way that we could study the trend, as he put it, of the number of pigs since 1938—pre-war, during the war and since the war—and the number exported. One thing that these figures show, and which I think the Minister tried to bring out, is that we are consuming a lot more of our own pigs now than was the case in 1938-39. In that connection, we must not lose sight of the fact that before the war we aimed at producing a pig at about 12-stone deadweight for the factory or 16 stones liveweight. Now, it is dangerous to aim at that. One would need to have a pig at 11 stones deadweight in order to get the best value. That factor should be taken into account in comparing the number of pigs consumed at home now and pre-war. It takes more pigs now to give us the same amount of bacon for home consumption than it did pre-war. I suppose the increase would not be more than 10 per cent., but I suggest we should add 10 per cent. to the pre-war figure in order to get a fair comparison between the consumption in both periods.

According to the Minister's figures, it would seem that the number of pigs in the country on the 1st June in each year has been going down in the past three years. In his concluding remarks, the Minister said he thought there was an upward trend. I hope he is right. I must say that I thought there would be an upward trend in view of the guaranteed price.

I do not want to start a controversy now as to the price level—some people say it is not high enough—but a guaranteed price at a good level would, in my opinion, bring more pigs. I believe that if the farmer were assured he had a chance of making money on pigs, or that he would lose only a little bit on them, it would result in an increase in pigs in this country. Therefore, I hoped to see more pigs in the country when this guarantee was brought in but, so far, the statistics do not show that increase. I sincerely hope the Minister was right when he said he thought there was an upward trend in the pig population. The number has been going down since 1954, which was the peak year since before the war. In particular, the number of pigs for export has been going down. The Minister read out the figures rather hurriedly but, if I heard them properly, I think there was only a token export in the past few years.

Last year. In 1955 there was a substantial export but less than in 1954. There is only a token export at present.

I hope we are not forgetting the old warning about locking the stable door when the horse has fled. Let us hope that all the horses have not fled. Let us hope that with this Bill to make permanently legal the fixing of a price, we may give further encouragement to farmers in general to produce pigs and that we may have more for export as time goes on.

I always felt it would be a great thing if we could feed the pigs from our own produce. I believe the only sure system of getting pig production on a sound basis is to have our own feeding for them produced within the country. As a matter of fact, the Minister talks of conditions here pre-war when imported feeding stuff, such as maize, were freely available and in the Minister's opinion it was cheaper to buy them. Of course that is a matter of opinion. The strange thing about it is that at that time the Scandinavian countries, to which the Minister referred, were producing pigs in very big numbers by feeding a far higher proportion of home-grown feeding than we were feeding. That was before new varieties of barley had been discovered, which have been giving us such good yields and which have proved so suitable for pig feeding.

I had an opportunity of seeing feeders in Denmark feeding pigs with home-grown feeding. I hope the Minister is right in his hope that the farmers here will turn more and more to the production of home-grown barley, as far as possible feeding on their own farms, but where they have a surplus, it can be sold to others for feeding poultry and so on.

Another point in this Bill, I notice, deals with export subsidy. That was the kind of thing to which the Minister had a very strong objection in the past. Perhaps he is objecting to it still. We all thought in our time that it was necessary in order to encourage export, but the Minister did condemn it.

What was that?

Giving export bounties which the Minister in his enthusiasm at one time described as supplying cheap bacon to John Bull. However, the Minister has found it necessary, but I notice that when he began paying this export bounty, he evidently did not like the idea. He did it secretly and now he asks us to legalise his mistake.

I brought in an Estimate for it and it was debated at length.

I want to know why the Minister has brought in clause 9 A:—

"An order under sub-section (2) of that section may provide that the Order shall be deemed to have come into force on a specified day before that on which it is made."

I cannot imagine a clause like that being put in, unless the deal is already done, and it is necessary to cover something already done.

Does the Deputy not remember that I brought in a Supplementary Estimate for this purpose at the end of last session? Under the existing legislation, I had to fix the subsidy before the date of export. Under the subsidy scheme, it is fixed in retrospect. You look at what the average price was for the previous fortnight and the bounty is related to that. I have to change the procedure under the Pigs and Bacon Act to make that procedure legal.

I see. I may be wronging the Minister then. I have been wronging the Minister in saying that he had done something before legislation was actually there and that it was necessary to make it right by this clause. But it is necessary, I understand, administratively to have this sub-section 9.

Merely to legalise the authority that I got under the Supplementary Estimate.

I am sorry for accusing the Minister of doing something illegal. I thought the Minister was but lately converted to it and had only now come to realise he had to make it legal. I am sorry for making that allegation.

The Minister mentioned that he intended to bring in an amendment. The amendment he intends to bring in is that it may be made possible, or made legal, to compel the curers to export a certain proportion of their output and killings.

Their grade A bacon.

Yes. I do not see any objection to that because if some curers are at a disadvantage in exporting and others are not up against that same disadvantage and were exporting, then it does appear to me that it would be fair that they should all bear the burden. But is not one way or another sufficient to deal with this? If there is a levy on all pigs, whatever it may be, that is paid into a fund and the man who exports is recouped for whatever disadvantage he has. It appears to me that would be sufficient and perhaps a better way. We do know that certain curers have had a long tradition of export and therefore had the connection on the market. Certain curers will, therefore, get a better price than others because they have that connection and name and it might be a mistake to compel curers who never exported to go into the market and to try to build up a name. I would imagine that the pool is a better way. The sum total coming into the country is better, in my opinion, than in the other way—than by compelling everybody to export his fair proportion. However, the Minister may be able to mention other reasons that have not occurred to me. A percentage export would be a better system, in my opinion, and then a subsidy is not necessary at all. They will all suffer equally together. If the curer loses 10/- on one pig in three exported, he must make 5/- on the two he sells at home.

If he is able.

At one time a percentage on all curers may be a better plan and at another time we might say we will drop it. I do not think it would be necessary to use both methods at the same time.

I have very little to say on this Bill. I could say a good deal on the question of pigs. It is a good thing I suppose if Deputy Dr. Ryan agrees with what the Bill provides and the Minister says—that the prices of grade A pigs are being fixed. I would like to know however, what is going to happen the prices of other pigs. We are all concerned in this House with building the pig population up to the peak figures we had in 1954, but one of the great discouragements to the pig feeder is grading. I know, and I do not need to be told, that grading is necessary, but I think that the grading has been very severe and there has been too much profit out of grading. I have said in this House on three or four different occasions— several other Deputies have said it and questions have been put down about it—that when pigs are graded and we have this grade A pig we hope to export, nobody knows what happens all the other classes down to this X grade because the bacon is all sold at the same price when it comes into the shops. I have had bacon curers protest to me that that is not so but I replied to them: "Well, why not identify that bacon and mark it with the number of its grade down the whole side." I mention that to the Minister again and whenever the question of pigs comes up, I shall always mention it.

There is a matter which does not really arise on the Bill but I would crave your indulgence, Sir, in respect of it. It is the matter of live pigs as against dead grade A pigs for export. It was rumoured freely some time ago that the bacon curers were endeavouring to obtain a concession from the Minister and from the Government that, if and when it would be profitable to ship live pigs, they should be the people to do it. That would be a retrograde step and I will tell you why——

There is not the slightest danger of its every happening so long as I am Minister for Agriculture.

I am very glad to hear the Minister say that, but I would like it to go down on the record also that, when we were not exporting any pigs at one time during the Minister's first term of office and when pigs were getting more plentiful and the prices began to suffer, they consistently fell and the bacon curers, God help them, could not pay any more. However, the Minister in his wisdom removed the restriction on the export of live pigs and people over whom, I might say, the bacon curers had no control, stepped in, and bought the pigs at the various fairs and markets in this country. That was the reason the Irish farmer got £3 per cwt. more for these pigs because the pigs were shipped over the Border. It was also the reason for grading being done away with. All pigs became grade A pigs over night.

I know Deputies on all sides of the House will agree that we want to make sure no group of men, no matter who they may be, will have control over the whole of our export business, live and dead; that it should be free to anybody, if he has the money, the way and the trade, to step in at any time and buy live pigs to ship them. It may be argued we should keep the pigs at home to cure them in our own factories. My answer to that is that if the factories want them, let them pay for them.

Hear, hear.

Deputy Dr. Ryan mentioned about maize before the war. It was a matter of opinion whether the feeding of maize or home-grown crops was the more profitable. Surely his memory cannot be so bad that he fails to remember he had to bring in an Act or an Order here and have oats mixed with maize in order to compel the Irish farmer to use the oats. The maize was so cheap at one time that it did not pay to feed the oats. I should just like to say that in passing.

It is a matter of some regret for me to have to sit in this House and listen to the figures that the Minister mentioned and the figures that Deputy Dr. Ryan mentioned that were supposed to be peak figures, when I remember the fine peak figures we had before Deputy Dr. Ryan got into action and smashed the pig trade to pieces.

I want to remind Deputies that it was Deputy Dr. Ryan who brought in the Pigs Bill of 1936, 1937 and 1938, and that that was the first time the Irish pig feeder ever heard of grading. That was the first time the bacon curers were given complete control of the Irish pig trade. That was the first time an Irish bacon curer was brought before the Prices Commission and it was proved beyond a doubt that his profits were no longer profits but had risen to such a height that they could be called plunder—£800,000 excess profits in a year out of pigs that were making only 50/- a cwt.! I mention that again and I want to put it on the records of this House to show the danger of this House legislating at any time to turn over the pig trade, or any of our trades, to any group.

Whatever profit or whatever progress was made in the cattle trade in the past five or six years was not made by our legislating the cattle trade out of business but it was made because of the fact that, if the factories wanted cattle, they could go and buy them, or if the cattle dealers could pay more for them, they could buy them. I hope I have made myself clear to the Minister and to Deputies on the other side of the House.

May I ask the Deputy what is the reference to the £800,000 that he mentioned? Give us the exact reference.

It was a bacon curer who set up not 1,000 miles from where I live. He was brought before the Prices Commission in 1938-39. He had got £800,000 excess profits out of pigs.

Over what period?

Over a period of one year. These are figures I will never forget because I was feeding a good many pigs myself at the time. There is a danger when you even have people like Deputy Derrig not convinced.

I am not convinced of the figure. I would like to get it definitely from an official source.

The figure is correct. I said I did not intend to speak for long——

They must have got them all for nothing.

They did get them for nothing. I will quote the figures. They got them from 44/- per cwt.—that was the lowest—up to 54/- per cwt., and I remember clearly reading at that time, when it was debated in this House, that bacon was selling at 112/-. They were doing all right at the time. Wages were low, outgoings were low, and they were getting more than 100 per cent. They had all the pig producers of Ireland at their mercy. Deputies, especially farmer Deputies, should know that I would not come in here and make irresponsible statements in regard to a matter that was close to me and that meant so much to me.

There was a time when the "unsuitable" pigs, as they are called now, very fat pigs, were sent to the furnace towns and steel cities of England. There was a trade then for that type of pig and there may be a trade in the future. People who work in furnaces have whatever fat is in their bodies sweated out and they crave fat and eat fat pork. Heavy pigs were sent to the Birmingham market. They were sent first to the bacon sellers in Ireland and the bacon curers' men said they were too heavy or too fat, as the case may be, and the people who owned them shipped them. It would be a good outlet for us if we could have a live pig trade again. I am glad that the Minister has given me an assurance. I hope that when we have a live pig trade again, it will not be the monopoly of any small group of men in this country.

The Deputy who has just sat down comes from an area in which there was a good deal of pig production at one time and in which there were many pig jobbers and bacon factories. I am sure that over the last century pigs and bacon were often a live issue in the Deputy's immediate area. We do not agree, however, with some of the statements the Deputy has just made, such as that it was possible for a factory to make all the profits he mentioned out of bacon at one time. The history of the Pigs and Bacon Acts of 1935 and 1937 is well known to many Deputies. It was necessary to bring in that legislation at that time, following legislation passed by our neighbours across the water. That was the origin of the Pigs and Bacon Act of 1935.

Pig production was as profitable at that time, although the economic war was on, and all the rest of it, as it is at the moment. The number of pigs produced was maintained pretty well during all that period and we have never been able to produce as many pigs as we had at the commencement of the last world war. Whether the legislation did good or harm, anything that has happened since has not improved matters. The Deputy is sitting behind a Minister who is all-powerful, with a majority behind him. If he can persuade him that it would be much better to do away with all legislation regarding the sale, production, export of pigs and all the rest of it, it is up to him to do so and to persuade his colleagues.

I did not say that.

There is no use in criticising existing legislation, if the suggestion is not that the Minister should abolish it. We do not know what the result of that would be. We do know that, at the moment, as we have no exports of bacon, there is no necessity for any of the legislation. We need not regiment or control the industry, or have inspectors, or anything else. If we do not increase pig-production, by whatever means, so that there will be an exportable surplus, there is no necessity whatever for all this legislation. We can just continue to produce bacon to suit the consumers' needs. The same could be said to apply to all the legislation in operation about butter, if we have not an exportable surplus of butter.

3,000 to 4,000 tons.

I know there is at the moment, but, if we had not, we would not be concerned with the legislation governing butter.

The Minister seems to think that, as a result of this piece of legislation, producers will considerably step up production. It is true that, as a result of grading, we need more pigs than we ever did in order to supply our own needs and have an exportable surplus. I calculate that in the past, one-fourth of the pigs at least were between 16 and 22 stone live-weight. If we aim at producing only grade A pigs, they must be marketed under 16 stone—15 stone live-weight. Therefore, the number produced must be increased by 25 or 30 per cent. over the number produced pre-war.

We hope that this guaranteed minimum price for grade A pigs will bring about the desired result. I often have doubts about it because I agree with the Deputy from Waterford who said that the grading of pigs did damage in the beginning. As time goes on, I suppose it will not have that effect. It did damage production. Producers were only getting 50 per cent. of their pigs into the grade A class and the other grades were sold at a very bad price, with the result that producers were not getting an economic price. If producers get a fair price and a fair profit, they will produce.

It is very significant that, since the Minister took office less than 30 months ago, the pig population has reduced by 20 per cent. The Minister tries to maintain that that was because of the agreement that he made with Great Britain just before he left office expired during that period. I think it expired only this year.

Last June.

Last June, yes. The number of pigs began to fall very considerably before last June and I want to suggest, if the Ceann Comhairle will allow me, that the Minister is engaged on the production end of it; he will be engaged on the export end of it when there is a surplus to export; but there is another end of it that is operating here and which damaged pig production in the last 24 or 30 months, that is, the interference all the way, for other purposes. The bacon put on the market in this country has become a political weapon and has been operated by a section of the Government as a political weapon. That has done more damage since this Government took office than anything else that has happened. The pig population was reduced during the war but that was when there was not enough food to feed them, when there was hardly enough food to feed human beings.

I asked a question yesterday of the Minister for Industry and Commerce as to the number of occasions on which there were changes in the retail price of bacon in the last two years. The reply was that from February, 1955, there were 25 change Orders made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in the price of bacon. I do not care what this House does in the matter of providing funds to guarantee the price of pigs or what the Minister may do; pig production will not increase while that is going on. We have no export of bacon at the present moment and that is the cause of it. Another matter is the price of offals on which we had a discussion quite recently in the House. Those are the two matters that come under the control of another Minister who has nothing to do with agricultural production at all. While that is going on we will not get any increased production of pigs no matter what the guaranteed price is.

Would the Deputy say the circumstances in which Orders are made?

We know the circumstances under which they are made all right. They are political Orders. There were five different sets of prices for pigs in an Order made in February, 1955, and in the last 18 months, since February, 1955, 25 Orders have been introduced. I am surprised at the Minister for Agriculture sitting as a member of the Government where that is going on. I have got some information also that since January, 1954, the average price paid per cwt. dead weight for pigs bought for bacon or for pig carcasses at the factory has changed almost every month. That is what sets all the producers in this country mad, fit for mental hospitals —these price changes. A farmer will get so much a cwt. for his bacon pigs this week; next week he will get a different price and the following week another price, all because of the way the Minister for Industry and Commerce changes the price up and down every week.

The price of mill stuffs that the farmer produces or which he buys in the shops, whatever way he may be feeding his pigs, does not change as often as that. The cost of bacon does not change as often as that. It is down at the moment. The latest figure is for 6th October, 1956. In the latest price Order it is in grade 6; in September it was in grade 7; in August, grade 8, and early in August, grade 9; in July it was grade 10. It is down almost to the lowest at the moment. There is one grade lower than that at which the price of bacon is being retailed.

I make the charge that there is an absolutely political purpose associated with this question of bacon production. I make that charge and I suggest to the Minister he is losing his time if he cannot stop that, and continues to sit as a member of the Government while that is going on. He has no business asking the agricultural community for higher production of bacon. We all want to see a higher production of bacon and higher exports if possible. Even in the economic war when things were very difficult, when there was a blistering tax on our bacon going into England, we were still able to get it in there and we still maintained our population of pigs. There is a blight on it now because of the operations of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in regard to the price of cereals and wheat offals and the fixation of the price of bacon. If the Minister makes an Order reducing the price of bacon this week it is as certain as the sun is in the heavens that next week the price of pigs will drop, and that is going on in a see-saw fashion.

I understood this Bill is to stop that.

It has nothing to do with it. The same thing can occur again.

Deputy Allen is in a mischievous mood. When he is outside he is quite a reasonable man. Let him in here and he goes dotty.

I am a gentleman when I do not annoy the Minister——

I said you were a reasonable man.

——but I am a scamp when I annoy him. The Exchequer of this country has been asked for a substantial contribution to create a pool in order to enable the export of pigs when we have them. All the taxpayers of the country will be paying into that pool. Every farmer who produces a pig will pay into that pool, whether it is a grade A, B or C pig. He must pay into that pool whatever levy is imposed by the Pigs and Bacon Commission. It is up to 5/- or thereabouts at the moment. At the present time we are consuming the produce of 700,000 pigs in the country. The number of pigs has dropped by 200,000 in two years, or a little over, of the Minister's term of office. The Minister got a lot of joy one time in this House out of the fact that the pig population was so low when the war ended.

According to the Minister, in the Fianna Fáil Government's time they ruined the farmers by reducing the number of pigs in the country. That was during the war period when there was no food available except for human beings. That is when the pig population dropped. They were competing with human beings for the food that was available. Now there is no scarcity of food and no competition between human beings and pigs or any kind of animals and the pig population has dropped. This Bill will not stop it while the Minister for Industry and Commerce has free rein to do what he likes with bacon and to change the price up and down, with a would-be guarantee of 245/- from the Minister. There is no control whatever over the majority of pigs before they reach the factory. All producers are not in a position to deliver whatever few pigs they may have direct to the bacon factories. Some of them may live 50 or 60 miles away from a factory. The result is that their pigs pass through many hands and no effort is being made in this piece of legislation to ensure that the producer shall get a minimum price for his pigs under all circumstances.

Where does a pig producer live 60 miles from a bacon factory?

I will prove it to the Minister, if he wants me to.

Deputy Derrig wants facts and figures. I would like to have that fact and figure now.

Take 20 or 30 miles——

Now the Deputy is shrinking.

——and a farmer has five or ten pigs: how can he get those to the bacon factory economically?

The factory will send for them.

Maybe they will not. The factory will not send for them.

That is news to me. The farmer must be living in another country.

There is provision here in relation to the colour of pigs. Deputy Dr. Ryan has already adverted to that. I have been told by a good pig breeder that he had a throwback recently and he had some discolouring in a litter. He never had a black pig in his life. He cannot understand what has happened. Now he may have a little of that over a certain period and the Minister should make some provision to meet that type of case. On the question of the production of barley and the feeding of barley, it would be a good thing if the wheat offals produced could be sold at the cost of production and not have them utilised for the subsidisation of flour and bread.

They are sold at the world price and, if the Deputy can buy them cheaper anywhere else, he can import them from Nagasaki, if he likes.

They should be sold at the cost of production in the mills.

If the Deputy can get them cheaper anywhere else in the world, he can go and get them.

They should not be used by the Minister for Finance to subsidise the price of flour. It was proved conclusively that, in the last financial year, he took over £600,000 out of that fund.

There is not a scintilla of truth in that.

It is absolutely true and the Minister cannot prove otherwise. As compared with the administration of the late Deputy Tom Walsh in the last Fianna Fáil Government the price of cereals was stepped up from £22 a ton to £27 a ton within three or four months of this Government assuming office and the resulting profit to the Exchequer was used to subsidise flour. There is no doubt in the world about that.

Home-grown barley was mentioned by the Minister. Our farmers will grow all the barley in substitution for maize, the maize that the Minister up to recently swore by—good yellow meal was the salvation of the country. We are glad that he has changed. As a result of Fianna Fáil efforts over the years, we have succeeded in convincing the Minister for Agriculture that there can be grown on the land of this country all the cereals necessary to feed our people and our animals. That is what the land should be used for. We are bringing in pollard and bran at the moment from the ends of the earth. It is coming through the Suez Canal. We are buying it in Africa and all over the world.

And still paying too much for our own. How is that?

For our oats?

No, for our own pollard and bran, if we are bringing it in from the ends of the earth.

Our own pollard and bran cost so much to produce and they should be sold back to the producers, who are feeding or fattening pigs, at the cost of production, without any profit to the State.

If there was no pollard and bran coming in, there would be nobody looking for it.

I do not know whether this matter is in order on this Bill, but with relation to the production of barley, when the Minister provides better machinery and encourages farmers by the provision of such machinery, somewhat similar to but not perhaps so expensive as that provided for wheat——

It seems to be very farfetched.

We had the Minister for a quarter of an hour on this.

Did we not get in all the barley this year?

And skim milk. There is very little barley——

More than ever before.

We grew more than we ever grew before and we got it all in.

The farmers grew it and no thanks to the Minister. They grew wheat.

And we got it all in. Will the Deputy thank me for that?

Who brought the rain?

I suppose the Minister brought the rain.

The Minister is all-powerful and everything worked out all right.

Will the Deputy thank me for that?

The farmers are well aware that every time they increase production, it is bad news as far as marketing is concerned.

That can never happen now.

It has happened. It can happen.

The Minister has a surplus of butter at the moment and he does not know what to do with it.

Indeed, I do.

Surely butter is not relevant.

The Minister badly wants exports.

There is nothing in this Bill about butter.

I suggest to the Minister that in the years to come, as barley production increases, machinery will have to be made available for its storage and so forth. It should be taken off the farmers' hands as wheat is taken at the moment when it is ready.

It was taken off them this year, was it not?

That was only a bagatelle.

Do not be crying now. Wait until some year we fail.

I hope this Bill will do some good.

But the Deputy has his doubts about it.

So long as bacon production is used as a political weapon by this Government, it will neither increase nor will the industry prosper.

The Deputy is full of good cheer.

Deputy Allen has an extraordinary view on this Bill. He says there were 25 change Orders in the price of bacon and that that was not a good thing. He forgets that such change Orders were made after the price had gone up or down, depending upon supplies. He objects to a Bill which seeks to regularise the price of pigs.

I do not object to the Bill at all.

If the Deputy did not object to it, he certainly did everything else.

He praised with faint damns.

The position is that here we are trying to do something to remedy a situation and, just because it is this side of the House and not Deputy Allen's side which is taking those steps, Deputy Allen does not approve. With regard to wheat offals, does the Deputy not know that there is no cost of production. They are offals. The best we can do at any time and the fairest thing to do is to make sure that our farmers get these offals at the same price as that obtaining in the British market, or any other market, in which they sell.

Why did they go up £6 a ton?

Because the world price of wheat offals went up by £6. Please God, it will come down £20 in the next six months.

The Minister reduced the price of wheat.

What has the world price of offals to do with the price of wheat here? The production of pigs is not one in which we can look for a very large profit on each single animal. We must compete with the Danes, the Dutch and the British producers themselves if we are to export pigs. When we do that, we are competing with people who keep pigs in large numbers in well-ventilated, well-constructed houses where there is a minimum of labour and a maximum of pig-meat gain for every lb of meal fed. We must look for an economy which will bring us certain profits and which will bring the farmers their biggest single profit with the exception of that on cattle raising.

We will not be on a feather-bed market. We have got to compete. A Bill such as this, designed to set up machinery to regularise prices and seeking to put a floor under grade A pigs, is a good Bill. It is the only basis we have on which to work. A considerable lot has been said about the grade A pig; it has been said that such a grade is too severe. I do not agree. As a pig producer myself, I send my pigs to the factory and I have to take my grade. When we were exporting bacon we were selling it at low prices because the quality was not as good as that of our competitors, notably the Danes.

In future we must proceed on a basis that will reward the farmer who does his job well. We can produce grade A pigs out of the large white as well as out of any other breed. I know a farmer who kept 1,000 large white pigs and his average of grade A pigs was 80 per cent. Is that not an excellent result We must try to achieve a greater average of grade A pigs, and if that is to the detriment of the man who produces the other type there is nothing we can do about it.

With regard to the production of corn, I will not indulge in any lengthy remarks. I will say that we must produce quite a large quantity of our own barley and that we must feed quite a bit of it on our farms if we are to get a profit from our pigs. The cost of manufacturing the barley, after haulage from the farm, into compound feeding stuffs is extraordinarily high. The cost of the traveller who sells the product is extraordinarily high. The cost of the sacks into which the meal is put is extraordinarily high. We must, therefore, feed quite a large proportion of our barley on the farm itself. At the same time, we must remember that a great number of farmers at the moment sell a big proportion of their barley as a cash crop and that they will continue to do this for the next 20 or 30 years. The Minister has taken pride in the fact that all the barley produced has been collected this year. That is a good thing. I think that when the acreage increases we shall have more to say about it.

Unlike Deputy Allen, I have the utmost confidence in the Minister. I believe that he will create the new machinery required for the marketing of barley that is not fed to pigs. I should like to refer briefly to the marketing of pigs. I believe a difficulty is encountered at the moment in the sale of grade A bacon. I do not think there is any need to brand a whole side of bacon. As the Minister said here on a memorable occasion, everybody wants a back rasher but he did not know of the pig that walked on back rashers or that rolled in the mud on back rashers. The difficulty is for the shopkeeper to sell any bacon except grade A bacon.

What do they do with the rest of it?

Quite a lot of it goes into sausages and other products. I do not think there is any necessity for the straight marking of bacon as grade A, B or C. As regards the fixing of areas, I think that is a good idea. It is most uneconomic to take pigs in lorries from Donegal to Cork or from Louth to somewhere else, except in situations where factories in certain areas suffer from scarcities and must be supplied or go out of production. However, there is no reason why the pig producer should be called on to pay the freight in such cases.

I welcome the provision, which is contained in existing legislation, which makes it an offence to keep any pig other than the large white. We must grade up our pigs and the decision to grade them up has been exclusively worked through our large whites. There has been great criticism of that pig. Alternative breeds have been suggested; alternative breeds have been introduced by the back door. You will probably get as good results from the large whites as from any other breed in the world to-day. We see that the Americans have taken a few of our large whites for breeding purposes. They did that for a twofold reason: (1) because the large white was acknowledged as the third most efficient breed, and, (2), which was a more serious consideration, because it was extraordinarily free from disease. Finally, I should like to say that I welcome this Bill. For as long as I can remember, the price of pigs has been going up and down. That will not be so in future, whether or not Deputy Allen likes it.

Like Deputy Donegan, I welcome the Bill. I cannot understand how Deputy Allen and Deputy Dr. Ryan could not have got together outside the House. I might say the same thing to Deputies Lynch and Donegan. However, I suppose a bit of variety within the Parties is welcome. The bugbear of the bacon trade has been price variation and if this Bill can stop that—it appears to be able to do it—and if it puts a firm floor under the price of bacon pigs, a very good step will have been taken.

It is a bit depressing for me to look back to the period round about 1939, when there was a commission on agriculture, before which I remember giving evidence on behalf of a group of pig producers in County Donegal, and to remember the sort of pious hopes expressed as to what was to be done and as to the courses that should be followed, and to realise how little has been done in the interim period. Admittedly, the war did upset things very much, but this Bill seems to me to be the first concrete step towards remedying what was one of the major complaints of pig producers in 1939. That was the variation in prices which caused rapid fluctuations in the number of pigs produced and helped to bedevil the entire industry.

Whether or not complete stability will be achieved by the Bill or whether there is room for some variations I do not propose to know. Just how far the home price of bacon might—because it would require too big an amount to subsidise the producer's price for bacon pigs—tend to lower prices I do not know. I do not know whether that may eventually force prices down. I should hope it would not, but I would like the Minister to consider very seriously and if possible agree with Deputy Dr. Ryan's suggestion—a very sensible one I thought—that at least nine months' warning should be given of a change. I think the suggestion that there should be no question in the Bill that the guarantee ends at any particular time; it should be left open on the terms that the prices will remain the same until notice is given and that notice should be fairly generous. I do not think that 12 months' notice should be given; nine months' notice would be quite sufficient and it might even be a little less.

You do not necessarily have to look for an unreasonable cushioning for every owner of every sow: that would be very nice, if it could be done and I assume any Minister in power would do his best, but it might be impossible to secure that. After all, all the sows in the country are not going to breed in one day, so that whatever effect downward price changes might have would be reasonably well cushioned to the agricultural community if the warning was moderately long. I do not think you can possibly legislate down to the last individual.

On this vexed question of grading, I am a bit horrified to find anyone in this year still left with even the amount of nostalgic looking-back that Deputy Lynch indulged in towards the days when there was no grading. Indeed Deputy Allen went further and he frankly deplored the change. No worse policy could be put forward in this country than any suggestion that at any time we should revert to the old free-for-all and let everybody decide what sort of pigs he wanted to produce and fatten.

I know there are farmers who have a sort of hankering that they should be allowed to determine for themselves the type of pig to produce, but it is quite inevitable that the consumers' taste must be considered first. Anybody who starts producing anything and thinks he can dictate what the consumer should have is making a very great mistake and is going to run into trouble. You must start from the consumers' wishes and work back and it is the business of any producer to consider the tastes of the consumer. There is no doubt about it that the trend is towards leaner bacon and that means grade A pigs. If you once start to mitigate in any way the reduction of prices for animals that do not come up to standard, if you give any sort of cushion to the fellow who does not make the grade even though it may be only a small departure from the standard, you will ruin the scheme.

The only way, in this case, is to be firm and say that you will guarantee the price for what you want and to the person who cannot produce it you will say: "If you cannot produce it, you had better go and do something else." If you start cushioning the fellow who is a pound or two out—and I know there is an argument made to the effect: "What does a pound one way or the other matter?"—the scheme will be ruined. The Minister must be very firm and must not give way to any representations from anybody on that score. Otherwise we will ruin our trade because our only hope of getting in on the export market is to have first quality bacon. That is what ruined us before on the export market; we could not compete with the Danish bacon and the chief reason for that, I was informed, was not so much that he could not get better Irish bacon than any produced by the Danes, but when a wholesaler in Britain ordered a side of Danish bacon, and when he had seen one, he had seen the lot, because they were as alike as peas in a pod.

I remember a big wholesaler in London saying that he knew he could with careful selection get Irish bacon better than anything in Denmark but that he could not be sure if he ordered 100 sides of Irish bacon he would not get big variations in quality and colour. It was standardisation that made the Danish market in Britain and that is what we have to get.

On that point of grading, I did not quite catch the reply the Minister gave to somebody yesterday—I think it was yesterday—about grade A pigs which became grade B bacon and grade B pigs which became grade A bacon.

That was the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

To me that was a most disturbing thought. I could quite appreciate that a pig that was grade A because of some defect which turned up which was not visible earlier, could become grade B, but it is not so easy to see how it could be the other way round. There may be a very good reason.

Grade B pigs can become grade A middle while having a grade B shoulder; but if the pig fails in any one of three points of measurement it is grade B bacon.

I hope that some attention will be paid towards the percentage of grade B pigs that go into grade A bacon.

It is microscopic. In my experience the number of grade A that would have to go into grade B and the number of B that would get into A would balance out.

That is reasonable. At the time it was given as a percentage and as I did not know the original numbers, the percentage did not convey very much. That is reasonably satisfactory.

The only other point I would like to make is with regard to Deputy Allen's complaint about people having pigs and having many miles to go to the factory before they can sell them. There is a perfectly obvious way out of this. If there is no bacon factory near, let the producers in the area form a group and market their pigs themselves at the factory. We did that in Donegal in 1937 and it was most successful. We would have beaten the pig jobbers out of the county but for the war coming and upsetting things.

The one thing radically wrong in Ireland is the daft, medieval system of marketing which the farmers themselves seem to want to carry on. This applies particularly to cattle, but it applies to pigs also. I remember men on my own committee stating that a pig jobber was able to pay more than the factory and they were convinced of that, even though the jobber had to sell the pigs to the factory himself. How the bacon factory could keep open on that principle I do not know, but that was firmly believed. It is often amazing how silly propaganda put out by the pig jobbers sinks in, while any amount of facts and figures produce no results. However, if there are marketing difficulties, I think the producers should take over and do their marketing themselves.

Do they still do it in your county?

No, we do not need to do it now because we have a couple of bacon factories and their agents come and collect the pigs. There is no marketing problem now but there was at that time and our marketing operation was very successful.

On the question of the use of barley, I could not agree more than I do with the sentiments expressed by everyone on the subject. I wish both Parties would realise how sick, tired and fed up the people are—at least in my constituency—with the spectacle of one side blaming the other. It is a highly desirable thing that we should grow barley to feed to pigs but I am not so happy about the suggestion which seems to come from Deputy Allen and Deputy Donegan with regard to the provision of storage. I am not so sure that that is a good thing to do. It means the sinking of what is very scarce in this country, capital, into physical assets which are of practically no use for anything else except the purpose for which they are designed. I think it is a retrograde step.

If there is too much barley in relation to the storage space available, the farmers should be encouraged by a price differential to stack it and keep it. There is no better form of storage since no grain can be lost. I do not like what has happened in regard to wheat. It is terrible that we should have £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 sunk in something when we might have done better by way of an improved price differential to encourage people to stack the wheat. If we rapidly approach the point in regard to barley that there is more of it available than the market can handle during the few weeks of the harvest, the Minister should carefully consider offering a better price differential and ensure that the farmers will stack the barley themselves and condition it in the best possible way as most grains condition best in the stack.

I think mechanisation can be overdone in this country. I congratulate the Minister on ending another piece of emergency legislation. Obviously, it is very desirable to have all these things wrapped up as soon as possible. This Bill is another step in that direction, as Deputy Dr. Ryan said. I am glad he agrees that the sooner we get down to the business of covering the various points needed in statutes the better. I am sorry he did not manage to convince Deputy Allen that the Bill was as good as Deputy Dr. Ryan thought it was.

I have no objection.

The Deputy will excuse me for having wholly misinterpreted his observations.

I have no objection to the Bill.

Only to the Minister.

I have no objection to the Minister either.

If I were to follow in the path of the previous speaker I would probably find myself speaking about breeding, grading and pig testing and I would be still much nearer the mark than I would be if I started to talk about stooking and stacking the grain. But I do not propose to go so far afield and the few remarks I have to make I shall try to make in as short a time as possible. I did not think the debate on this Bill would have dragged out so long. I know the Minister is anxious to get away to his tea.

One of the things which always intrigues me is the way in which the Minister can fulminate. Another thing is his incandesence—the way he can illumine the ship of State to replace the dark spectre painted by the Minister for Finance. The Minister congratulates us because of the fact that the bulk of the population are in the happy position of having eaten so much bacon that we are all overlapping on the curves. In his remarks he made a reference to the amount of barley produced in the constituency which I represent.

At least 50 per cent. of the barley produced is produced in that constituency and in the counties adjoining it. The funny thing is that, while barley is a primary product in the production of bacon, we cannot boast of the fact that East Cork is a highly intensive bacon producing area and this gives rise to the fact that barley as a primary product in the production of bacon is transported out of the constituency into what are the bacon feeding areas.

East Cork is an area in which a considerable number of pigs is not produced, and yet it is a barley producing area but I think the Minister was inconsistent when he urged us in East Cork to walk our barley off the producing farms. If that could be done I know it would be the ideal situation but I am at a loss to know how the Minister can reconcile the suspension of grants for the erection of grain lofts in that constituency and in the country generally. I want to appeal to the Minister to treat the erection of grain storage as as urgent a matter as the erection of cow byres.

I would ask him to reconsider the suspension and to restore the grants for the erection of grain stores. There is no use saying you can produce pigs on the farm where barley is produced if you have not storage space for the grain there. Again, there is the question of drying plants but I think that is a bit outside the scope of the Bill.

Does the Deputy rule out the storage of grain in stacks?

No. As the Minister is aware, the storage of grain in stacks is bound to lead to wastage in wet and stormy weather and farmers generally try to get threshing done in the harvest. That, as far as I am aware, is the practice in the grain producing areas in the south. It is only on very few farms that you have early spring threshing. I think that if farmers were encouraged to provide storage space for grain it would be an incentive to increase the production of pigs in the area and it would considerably reduce both the expenditure and the losses incurred in marketing by grain growers who have no storage space and who at threshing time sell the grain to grain merchants and then buy it back in a miller's bag as they require it. The fact that we eat so much bacon is not so much a factor as the fact that we are unable to make any substantial or constant increase in our export of bacon.

Only last week, I had an opportunity of examining figures of the imports of bacon from the main exporting countries into Great Britain. I discovered that, for the week ending 20th October, 1956, the export of Irish bacon to Great Britain represented something like .03 per cent. of the total consumption of bacon there in that week. I have the figures of the main exporting countries and they will give some idea of our position in relation to our competitors. For the week ending 20th October, 1956, the Danes exported to Great Britain 3,800 tons; Holland, 700 tons; Poland, 800 tons; the Irish Republic, 280 tons; Hungary, 80 tons; South Africa, 50 tons; Sweden, 300 tons, and Great Britain themselves produced 3,000 tons. Strange as it may seem, these are figures which I got from one of the directors of the Danish Bacon and Wholesale Company over there. How could we hope to make any impression when that figure substantially represents our contribution to that enormous market?

Again, we have to realise that, even though the amount is so small that it could be consumed in one small centre —if we were exporting—we have nothing like the marketing facilities of our competitors there. I was amazed to discover that the Danes have over 40 marketing centres situated in the main centres of population. Not alone that, but, on British soil, they have erected their own bacon-smoking plants. They are able to distribute their bacon direct from their own smoking plant to the bacon trade in all the highly concentrated centres of population. That is our difficulty.

The amount we export is so small that we cannot create a taste for Irish bacon over there. If and when, as we all hope, there is an increase in the export of bacon from here, one of the things we must do is to improve our marketing facilities over there. I was amazed to discover that much of our bacon is handled by the Danish marketing companies there. One of the directors of the Danish company informed me that, among his orders for Danish bacon, at different times would come an order for, say, so many sides of Irish bacon. He would then have to get the bacon from our agents in London and distribute it himself to his own regular customers. That will give some indication that, not alone have we failed to produce the quantity that would create a market, but we suffer from the further disability that our production is mainly seasonal. The highest figure the Minister can quote for any year represents only a trickle so far as the consuming market on the other side is concerned. We suffer from the disadvantage of being unable to continue to export that product over the whole year. Our production of bacon, in the main, is seasonal. We have a long way to go even when we develop grade A bacon and are able to export the bacon in sufficient quantities. Then we have got to develop a proper marketing system at the other side.

I wonder if a stabilised price of 235/- will be the biggest incentive to an increase in our exports to Great Britain. The amount we consume at home is not the factor in our present financial position: the main factor is the amount we will have available for export.

I see that the Minister was ready to reply and therefore I shall try to be very brief. I welcome this Bill because I think it is a very good Bill. It will give stability to the pig and bacon trade as a whole in this country. It will be of particular interest to the people in congested areas in the West of Ireland where, to a very large extent, they rely on pig production. I think those people will be very pleased that this Minister, by the introduction of this Bill, has taken steps to put a sound floor under the whole industry.

As other Deputies have pointed out, the unfortunate ups and downs of prices for pigs and bacon over a considerable number of years have caused serious uncertainty and many farmers who were good bacon producers went completely out of business. It is unfortunate that that should have happened, but there is not use in crying over spilt milk.

In my opinion, this Bill will give the stability that is required to help this industry. I agree thoroughly with Deputy Moher on the question of marketing our bacon. We do not seem to have gone into the matter as thoroughly as the Danes, the Dutch and other people have for the purpose of ensuring that our very good bacon customer across the water is properly treated. I have no particular love for the British, any more than anybody else in this House, but neither have I any hatred for them. They have been very good customers for our bacon. If, to-day, we are not exporting very substantial quantities of bacon to England, I think that, in the main, it is our own fault.

We should appreciate that to-day's bacon market is a very competitive market and for our bacon factories at home to be communicating by telephone across the water with merchants, wholesalers and retailers, who require bacon from time to time, with the amount of delay that naturally arises, is not a good method of handling the industry. I would like the Minister to consider the suggestion of Deputy Moher in that regard and try to establish distributing centres in England. It is worthy of note from the figures he quoted that the percentage of our bacon sold to Britain at the present time is very poor indeed, having regard to our geographical position in relation to England and considering that many of our competitors live so far away. It is proof positive that there is something wrong and I would urge on the Minister the necessity, as Deputy Moher has already done, of considering proper distributing centres in parts of England where we have a good market.

The question of grading of pigs has been gone into thoroughly. We must realise, having regard to the facts as already stated, the keen competition of the present time. It is of the greatest importance to have our bacon graded. There were times in this country when we could sell the heavier types of bacon at home and we also had a foreign market for them. That market seems to have disappeared and to-day the market for heavy pigs is very small. I want to tell the Minister, and he is probably aware of it, that there is a system in operation in this country that is, if you like, detrimental and defeating its own purpose. It is the purchase of pigs on a live weight scale. Farmers come in and get a certain price for pigs up to 16 stone weight, regardless of the particular grade, which might be either A, B, or C. It is a flat price that is paid and the average farmer sells on the live weight scale to the factory agent. He is not compensated for producing grade A pigs. That being so, he does not mind which type of pig he turns out. He still continues the old method of pig production—feeding rapidly and with the wrong foodstuffs, foodstuffs which are wasted. That has been very convenient for farmers in some areas but, while it continues, you will naturally have a lot of heavy pigs coming on the market.

I understand from people engaged in the bacon industry that it is worthy of note that pigs purchased at fairs by dealers are sent direct. But farmers have a higher percentage of grade A pigs than pigs sent in from the live weight scales. Where bacon factories are within a reasonable striking distance I would not like to see that system seriously discouraged. I do not know what steps the Minister will take to deal with that situation. I myself engage in the pig business and I naturally know something about it. Perhaps if the Minister took action it would put such people out of business but I would rather consider the industry as a whole than consider my own interests in the matter. There are many people engaged in this way, in the purchase of pigs, and paying farmers on the spot. While it may be convenient it does, at the same time, have the effect of keeping up a higher percentage of grade B and C pigs.

On the question of the growing of barley I should like to say that in the West of Ireland, particularly in the part I come from, land is so poor, in the main, that it is hardly fit for growing a lot of barley and we must rely on the producers in other counties to produce the necessary barley for our requirements. It is, therefore, of the greatest importance that people in the congested areas would be able to purchase barley at keen prices. That is the grumble of my neighbours. They do not grumble so much about the price of bacon which they say is fair enough if the feeding stuffs were cheaper. That is our problem. It is a serious problem. I do not know how the Minister is going to get around it. At the present time, maize is very expensive and then again the Minister discourages, and rightly so, the use of maize as far as possible, but even barley is not always readily available at an economic price in the congested areas. If the Minister can do anything——

What about potatoes?

Yes, potatoes are quite plentiful but I think the Minister would much prefer the producers to go on barley and skim milk.

I would like them to grow potatoes this year and barley next year and also produce skim milk.

In any case the point I have made to the Minister is that feeding stuffs could be made available more cheaply. I think it would be of great advantage.

Reference was made to people having up to 1,000 pigs. That is quite a lot of pigs to have for any one individual but no such gambling in pig production goes on in my part of the country. People have pigs in twos and threes and some may have four or six. I would say to the Minister in all seriousness, if people could be encouraged to go into the production of small lots of pigs it would be very healthy for the Irish economy and better than having people gambling with a couple of thousand pigs who get out of business in a flash. These people, to my mind, are more or less undesirable in business.

In conclusion, I again welcome the Bill, which seems to me to be most desirable, for the purpose of putting a flow in the pigs and bacon industry as a whole.

Debate adjourned.