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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 19 Jul 1960

Vol. 183 No. 13

Committee on Finance. - Vote 46—Agriculture (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
"That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration."—(Deputy Dillon.)

I had not an opportunity of hearing the Minister's speech last week, but in glancing through it—or at least what I saw of it in the papers—it seems that he gave the House a statistical abstract of agriculture. I do not suppose anyone can be very surprised at that, because probably the farmers of Ireland at present find themselves more financially embarrassed than they have been for a considerable period.

I want to draw the Minister's attention to some aspects of his policy which have produced the present situation. First, I want to address myself to the grain situation which is of considerable interest in my country and in adjacent counties, in other words, in the tillage counties. The Fianna Fáil Government have been repeatedly warned that if they did not put an economic floor to feeding stuffs—and by feeding stuffs I mean feeding barley —they would not achieve the results necessary to maintain an economic balance nor would they achieve a satisfactory ratio between the three principal crops sown here, wheat, oats and barley. However it may be glossed over by the Minister or by members of his Party, very few of whom appear to have spoken here, the indisputable fact remains that we have come back to the position in which we were some years ago—we have not sufficient feeding barley to meet our own requirements. That is entirely due to the fact that the Government would not fix an economic floor.

When we were in office those of us who were supporting the Government in the Fine Gael back benches fought our battle within the Party and achieved a floor of 40/- a barrel for feeding barley. We were told by members of Fianna Fáil that was insufficient and I, personally, was not particularly satisfied with that price but it was the best we could get. At least it was fixed and the barley was produced, or the greater portion of what was necessary for home feeding was produced. The present Government, in spite of the advice they got from this side of the House and in spite of the pressure from Deputies of their own Party, two of whom are in the House at present, refused to take advice from people in a position to know, people speaking on behalf of counties producing that type of feeding stuff. The Government allowed themselves to be put in a position of fixing an uneconomic price which has resulted in the present situation.

We move to wheat. This is a subject on which any Deputy could talk for hours. He could produce a history over recent years of innumerable statements by Government Party members in regard to this crop. I do not think there is any need to stress that further; it has often been discussed here and I think the answer was adequately given to the Government in the recent by-election. As a result of the Government's foolishness over the price of barley they find themselves with too much wheat. Farmers have grown more wheat this year, I think, than in recent years and the question now is how much the levy that the Government will impose on the farmers for growing wheat will be.

I wonder how much money has been spent by the Government in advertising and on publications concerning wheat. In every country newspaper, in every paper, journal and magazine the farmers were told to "grow more wheat". Thousands of pounds were spent in that campaign and the farmers responded as they always respond to a call in this country. The result is that they will be penalised again. Further, the Minister has said the present arrangement is a temporary one and that next year he is going to impose a quota on the farmers.

What about all the money being spent on advertisements asking farmers to grow more wheat? Is it not sad that a Government who advocated a wheat growing policy are this year imposing a levy on farmers who grow wheat? The Minister has not yet stated the amount of the levy. Next year he will impose a quota in order to prevent them growing wheat which over the years they were advised by the Fianna Fáil Government to grow.

What is the situation in regard to grain? Have the Minister and his advisers considered, from a world point of view, what the prospects are for grain growers in this country? Employment on the land has fallen by 4,000 or 5,000 over the past few years. Each year there are fewer people employed on the land. Tillage was calculated to keep people employed on the land. Extra production of livestock would keep people employed on the land. Where are all the promises in regard to mixed farming, grain farming, made by the Fianna Fáil Party? The results are sad.

The Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Dillon, has indicated that the agricultural income has fallen by £17 million. Are the majority of the Irish people, those employed on the land, which is fundamental to our economy, to be content because a few industries are set up from outside? Economists may write articles in the paper indicating that the situation is a bit better here, that the balance of payments position is better. Fundamentally, the country depends on the people who come from the land, who have stood by Ireland all the time and who are the basis of our economy. They are to be driven out by a Party with a huge majority in Dáil Éireann, a Party free to adumbrate any policy but who have no policy.

Will the Minister tell us when he is replying what his grain policy is for the future? The Minister comes from a county which is not very actively concerned with grain. That also applies in the case of Deputy Dillon but Deputy Dillon always had in mind the needs of the tillage farmers. If the farmers of Ireland could get Deputy Dillon back as Minister for Agriculture, they would be satisfied because they know that, in that case, there would be some sort of policy in operation.

What will the future bring? What will be the situation in Europe as a whole? Have the Minister's advisers considered that matter? What is the position in regard to the wealthiest purchasing community outside the United Kingdom, the Common Market, the Six? They have all the grain they want. There is no market there. There is no market anywhere else. The Minister may say: "Let us turn grain into livestock." Let us consider the position in regard to livestock. What are the prospects for livestock? In spite of all the glossing over in this House by those who would defend a futile livestock policy, this is the story: Over the past two years, there has been a gradual decline in exports of livestock from this country; there has been a gradual decline in prices. From time to time, there was a fillip and everybody felt that things would be all right, only to sink back into despondency when the bottom went out of the market again.

Have the Government any policy for the future? If the bovine tuberculosis eradication scheme is fully implemented and if there is no residual tuberculosis in the country, is there any guarantee the Government can give to the people that there is a market for store cattle? I doubt it. Anyone who goes to a mart or fair knows the attitude of the people there. There is nothing but despondency. People wonder if they can cut their losses or even get what they gave for cattle some years ago.

The Minister and his Department may issue statistics and may say that the price of cattle in such a month is better than it was a month before and better than it was a few months ago, that the fall is due to climatic conditions, that it is due to drought in England, failure of crops in England, a decline in the grain crop, a bad return of hay so that the British farmers are unable to feed the stock. The fact is that conditions are changing with regard to the sale of livestock and this Government have done nothing to meet the situation. They have no policy and no stable outlook in regard to the sale of livestock.

Our capacity to sell to the United Kingdom, where the major portion of our exports goes, is entirely dependent on whether the British buy beef from the Argentine or not. The price of cattle recently went up by a small amount. Everybody was hopeful that there would be an improvement. A few days later, it was announced in the newspapers that there had been an enormous shipment of beef from the Argentine into the United Kingdom. Prices went down again. There was another shipment of beef from the Argentine a week or so ago and the price went down again. There is no stability in the market today, no attempt on the part of this Government to get an agreement. At the time when they should have looked for an agreement, they were whittling away their time in an effort to change the system of election. Every country in the world is looking for agricultural agreements.

I have said that the Government did nothing but they did one thing. They did it in desperation. Recently they voted the money for a subsidy for fat stock. That is something. It is an indication that the Government and the Department of Agriculture have accepted the fact that they have lost the store cattle trade, on which this country depended and which gave vast employment and kept people on the land. Above all, it kept the small farmer in existence. The loss of the store cattle trade is the greatest tragedy in Ireland today. The majority of the votes that go to the Government Party come from the small farmers. Yet, the small farmers are the very people whom they have driven off the land and out of the country. The small farmers are unable to exist without the store cattle trade.

Anybody who has cattle, who has a strong farm, who has some sort of financial backing, who is able to stand the racket, can hold on to his cattle, fatten them and sell them. That is the only reliable market left today. What will happen to the small farmer? The bigger farmer by exporting his stores, can create space on his farm for restocking. The live calf market can be kept going. The dairy farmer has a source of income from that and is able to produce milk.

No doubt, when the Minister is replying, he will produce statistics by the dozen. Departments are always ready with statistics. One can prove anything on paper but I want to face the hard facts. I live on the land and work on the land. The hard fact is that at the moment the farmer is unable to sell his produce or, if he can sell it, is selling at a reduced price. The old cry that has been going on all the time is: "Produce more efficiently and sell more cheaply".

It is not for this side of the House to advise the Government. The Government have a huge majority. They have official advisers at their elbow. They were supposed to have a policy when they came into office. The majority of their supporters were small farmers who are being destroyed. It seems to me that in the changing circumstances on the land at the moment, this Government or any succeeding Government must look for an alternative policy and for alternative markets. Agricultural production is increasing all over Europe, in North America and in some areas of South America. There are hundreds of people in the world who have not enough to eat, who are living on the verge of starvation.

F.A.O., the world-wide organisation for the distribution of food and for the increased production and marketing of food, is conducting a freedom-fromwant campaign and is building up propaganda throughout the world. The idea behind that campaign is that every country able to produce and already producing food should produce more food and should endeavour to market that food where possible in other parts of the world.

There is an almost illimitable demand for food in Africa. Though Africa happens to be one of the underdeveloped parts of the world, it still has the purchasing power. Certainly some of these emergent countries have the purchasing power to absorb a great deal of the world's agricultural produce. This country is fortunately placed in that there is no stigma of colonialism such as attaches to other European countries. The position in Africa is that they are not anti-white but anti-colonial.

I can assure the Minister and his advisers that anything Ireland has to offer those countries will be gladly accepted. The marketing of produce in several of the emergent African countries is a simple problem because the majority of their exports and imports are conducted through one firm, a world-wide firm. When these African countries were colonies they imported and exported through this agency and they are doing it still as there is no other medium through which they can export and import. They are anxious, as many of their leaders have stated, to make separate agreements with other States.

Is there any State in the world more fortunately placed than Ireland to deal with these countries? What has the Government done? Has the Government done anything about solving the surplus milk problem which has become an embarrassment not only to this country but to other strong agricultural producing countries? I suggest to the Government that they have the means of making such trade agreements. They can appoint someone, a Commissioner for Food or whatever they like to call him, to try to secure markets for us.

Our chief difficulty is that if we produce more we are not able to sell it. We regard the United Kingdom as our chief market. The O.E.E.C. is closing down on the 22nd of this month to become a wider organisation embracing North America and Europe as a whole. In its reports which have been issued year after year it has stated that the fault with the Irish economy is that we have put all our eggs in one basket. The Government have relied on policies that existed prior to their entry into power. There is not the same demand for our produce in the United Kingdom as there was before and they are in a position to pick and choose. The answer to that is the E.F.T.O. We are looking in the window while six or seven other nations are inside making agreements which will have an effect on our produce here.

It is time that the Minister for Agriculture who is responsible for the welfare of Irish farmers should make some definite move to establish a marketing system whereby people can dispose of their produce. It might well be answered that if we do get the markets we have not the produce to sell to those who wish to buy from us. There is a certain measure of truth in that. There has been much instability in Irish marketing throughout the years since this Government came into power. The cattle trade started to go, as unfortunately it always seemed to go, when they became the Government. If we were to get a comparatively big order from any country it is unlikely that we could fill it.

Because of the instability that exists it has been impossible for us to go into full production. Anyone who suggests that we are anywhere near full production is just talking nonsense. People complain; people leave the country and turn their backs on the administration and on political life here. They are disillusioned in every way because, after 40 years of Irish Government, we are not in full production for the reasons I have been giving the House. Any time we get production going something happens and our market is gone again.

With regard to the eradication of bovine T.B., one would imagine from the Minister's statement, if I read it correctly in the time I had available, that bovine T.B. was almost eradicated, that the scheme was a success, that the millions of pounds spent already have been well spent and that we are secure in the thought that the country will be free from bovine T.B. in a very short period. I wonder if the Minister knows that in my county, which is not very far advanced in the bovine T.B. eradication scheme, those who have disposed of reactors and tried to replace them have found the situation anything but satisfactory.

In the last few days I have been told by several people in my county who have sold their entire herds, upset their husbandry and their existing method of living, that having bought tested replacements from the clearance areas to which the Minister has been referring, many of these cattle have gone down. One man had 28 heifers of which 24 went down. Like a loyal citizen following the policy of the Government he disposed of the 24 and bought 24 more attested cattle, what he believed to be first-class milking cattle. Every one of them went down. Even though the Government bought them from him again, he was at a loss of about £15 a head. Someone may say that is only one case but it has happened not only once but repeatedly and it is happening to people who are taking cattle out of the so-called clearance area west of the Shannon. I am not alone in that experience. I know many other Deputies can give similar cases. Everyone wishes well to the bovine T.B. eradication scheme. We must make it a success if we are to maintain what little is left of our store trade.

I have said before to the Minister and I say again that to run a scheme for bovine T.B. eradication you must have technical experts in charge. They must be free from the worry of continual file-keeping. The Minister has had difficulty in getting technical experts, but I understand that position has been rectified. I suggest to the Minister that these experts should be scattered throughout the country, not necessarily to carry out the tests themselves but to superintend the scheme. A small secretariat with central control would be sufficient to run the scheme on a proper basis.

My information is that it is somewhat like the complicated machinery of the Land Commission. With machinery like that of the Land Commission, you will never get anywhere. One group will be supervised by another group which, in turn, will be supervised and so on. The system makes for the gathering of files but not for efficiency in a practical scheme such as this. The Minister should allow it to be an entirely professionally-controlled organisation with, naturally, the secretariat of the Department of Agriculture and the Minister in supervision. It is not necessary for 20 or 30 officials to write letters to overworked veterinary surgeons to spur them on to greater energy and to send them regulations regarding what they should or should not do when they already know their business full well.

Nothing will satisfy me that there is not some directive to go slow on the land project. We are told that more work is being done on the land. That may or may not be. I should think it is more likely that it may not be. However, we shall accept the Minister's statement. There are more applications as people become alive to the benefits of reclamation, manuring and improving of land. These applications should be dealt with expeditiously. No matter how influential Deputies may be, no matter how interested they may be in the people on whose behalf they make representations, the stock reply seems to be that the application has been noted and will be dealt with as soon as possible.

Would it be possible to have a few more inspectors? We have other inspectors without whom we could do. Quite a number of officials in other Departments might possibly be done without also. Land reclamation means increasing production and the arresting of emigration. Surely the Minister could ask the responsible authority to sanction the employment of a few more inspectors so that land will be inspected and the very necessary work carried out? I cannot accept that the land project is running freely and efficiently and that cases are being dealt with in any sort of rapid sequence.

Deputy Esmonde spoke of the necessity for having Deputy Dillon as Minister for Agriculture once more. Surely that would be demotion for him in the eyes of his Party? I gather he is looked upon as a future Taoiseach. Unless he combines the portfolio of the Department of Agriculture with that of the Department of the Taoiseach I cannot see how he can possibly resume in the Department of Agriculture.

I went to the trouble of reading the various contributions to this debate. It was a form of penance; I do not know what Purgatory is like but it could not be worse than going through some of the contributions. It emerges from them that this most important Department is not in a healthy condition. Agriculture is our main industry. Nevertheless, it is treated as a political football in this House.

It emerges from the debate that the small farmer is in desperate straits. One reason put forward is that conditions are not good in the store cattle trade. I fear there is no future for the country and particularly for the small farmer if our economic salvation is tied to the store cattle trade. For years, the west has been depending almost entirely on the store cattle trade. We now see the fruits of that policy. Various reasons are given for the changes that have taken place in recent years in that trade and for the lack of stability in store cattle prices.

British farmers are increasing their cattle output. The more they increase their output the less dependent they will be on store cattle from the west of Ireland. That is one reason why the very attractive prices that were offered for a few years at cattle fairs in the west are no longer available. Even if those good prices were restored and were to continue indefinitely I still hold that industry is not the cure for the economic ills of the small farmer in the west.

Is it seriously suggested that the man with 15 to 20 acres can rear a family on that holding if it is devoted to what can only be described as ranching in a small way? The same type of farm operates west of the Shannon as operates in Leinster. The same type of husbandry is in operation on the 15-acre unit in the west as on the 500-acre unit in the midlands. In recent years, husbandry in the midlands was devoted purely to the rearing and fattening of cattle, mostly fattening. The cattle generally were supplied from the south and west. More recently, when it was discovered that it would not be a crime to plough the midlands, the landholders there turned from the cattle business to a great extent and took up wheat ranching. Those large units were in a position to hold on, irrespective of market conditions.

The small farmer in the west of Ireland was left with store cattle as his means of livelihood but his future was in jeopardy from the word "go". How has it come home to the Deputies of this House and others outside? In my opinion the facts are beginning to disclose themselves now through a change in the pattern of emigration. In the past as we sent the store cattle from the west to Britain we sent also a fair volume of human beings. Our principal exports from the west were young men and women and store cattle.

The young men and women, when they went, sent back the emigrants' remittances. They in turn helped those on the small-holdings to eke out an existence and keep the local shopkeepers in existence as well. The position now, as has been already pointed out in this debate, is that the son and daughter in Britain have decided to stay there and they are taking over their parents with them. The father who left to work in Britain, and who came home regularly to look after the small-holding, has decided that it is not worth while doing so. He has packed up and with his wife and family has gone to enjoy the benefits of the welfare State. The people from the west who should be living with some sense of security as far as their land is concerned are now lost to this country.

To a great extent this turn of events has taken place because of the wrong type of agricultural policy followed for the past 40 or 50 years. In the various contributions here, whether they were from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Clann na Talmhan, the case was put forward that something must be done to help the small farmers. Deputy Blowick even went so far as to advocate that the time was overdue when a minimum price must be made available for their produce, cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry. A Deputy in the Fine Gael Party, a colleague of mine from Roscommon, went so far as to suggest that it was high time the bacon industry and the dead meat trade were taken over by the Government.

They are only two Deputies. I shall not name any more. This thread runs through all the speeches if anybody cares to see it. The Government must do this, that and every other thing. I think it is time those Deputies should realise that every time they make that plea they are condemning the free-for-all type of enterprise which has been in operation for the past 40 years so far as agriculture is concerned. I could not agree more with all those Deputies who say that it is the duty of the State to step in and provide the stability and make the necessary organisational arrangements to secure marketing for the produce and save the farmers and consumers from the exploitation which goes on at the present moment.

Other Deputies in what I describe as the Right Wing of this House are actually advocating a form of nationalisation for agriculture. I hope they realise that and are prepared to stand over what they said. A Deputy suggested that it was time the bacon industry and the dead meat trade should be taken over by the Government. Let us examine one of the propositions. I know that Deputies may be bored with this again because some of it is repetition but I shall make a few comments on it. I believe this Government have made absolutely no move whatever in the past three years to save this very important industry. Not to speak of increasing the output or improving the conditions, they are actually making no attempt to save it although it is in a most serious position.

In November 1957 I asked a question here. I shall not go back any further because I put down similar questions for four years before that. In 1957 I asked the Minister for Agriculture if he was prepared to take any steps to bring stability into the industry, if necessary by the establishment of a semi-State company on the lines of the Irish Sugar Company in order to ensure that farmers would get a fair return and so that proper marketing arrangements might be made outside this country for the sale of their produce.

The Minister in his reply to me said —and I shall not give the reply in detail; I shall condense it—he was not prepared to accept any such suggestion. He felt that stability had come into the industry since the introduction of the grading system and particularly since the introduction of Grade A. The guarantee there was that it was going to bring stability. He said it was debatable whether any other arrangements would or could secure better results. On that occasion Deputy Dillon chimed in and agreed wholeheartedly with the Minister that this was the be-all and end-all and that the introduction of the Grade A guarantee had brought a measure of stability and would continue to do so.

We know how it failed to do so. The following year, on the 26th November, 1958, I asked the present Minister for Agriculture what progress had been made with regard to the report of the Advisory Committee on the Marketing of Agricultural Produce and if the Government would even publish the report of that Advisory Committee on bacon. His reply was that no decision had been taken by the Government as to whether or not that report would be published. Belatedly, in the course of the Minister's introductory speech, he told us that the Government are going to reorganise this industry. I wonder are they? I wonder will they take the necessary ruthless steps that must be taken to put this on a sound basis and give confidence to the farmers that their interests are to be protected?

Here is the position as I find it at the moment. A small farmer in south Roscommon has two pigs for the market. He goes into the nearest town with his two pigs. He finds a buyer at the factory and he sells the pigs. He does not know whether those pigs are Grade A, Grade B or Grade C. He does not know what price he will get for them. He must keep his fingers crossed until he hears from the factory and receives his cheque before he knows what grade the two pigs were. One thing which he does know, and one thing about which he can be sure is that when those two pigs have received "the treatment" at the factory—when they have got a shower, a shave and a shampoo—they will come out as Grade A on the breakfast table, irrespective of the grade the farmer was paid for when the pigs were bought by the factory. The housewife will also pay Grade A prices for those pigs when she is making her purchases.

Where is the guarantee or the security for the farmer? Where is the protection for the housewife in that performance? What interest will be affected if the Government take the necessary steps to put this industry on a proper basis? Is it not a fact that the bacon factories will have to be dealt with and dealt with severely? Are this Government in a position to deal with the bacon factories? I do not want to delay the House but if I pointed out that quite a large number of the bacon factories are closely associated with the Government can we then expect the Government to take the necessary disciplinary action against these bacon factories? If I wanted to have a controversial debate here I would mention the factories and their associations with the Government but I think they are well known to the House already. The proof of the Government's sincerity in dealing with this industry will be the steps they are prepared to take to deal with the middle-man between the bacon producers and the consumers, in this case the bacon curers.

I am glad to see that members of the Fine Gael Party agree with me that it is time for the Government to take some steps. I am also glad that members of Fine Gael agree with me that the Government have a duty in regard to the dead meat industry. The difficulty at the moment is that this very important industry has been left in the hands of private concerns. Naturally the main object of a private concern is to make profits and private concerns are not interested in the general welfare of the community or of the nation. They are interested in making profits and in the course of making their profits they may be damaging the welfare of the community. Therefore it is only fair and just that the interests of the farmers, the consumers and our export rights, should be preserved from exploitation. The Government are the people who are in a position to give that protection.

I mentioned already that the view seems to exist that the store cattle trade is the be-all and end-all as far as this country is concerned. I find that there is a very great measure of agreement at the moment on that matter between the two major Parties in this House. I do not want to be taken as suggesting that the store cattle trade is not important. It is important, but if we give it the position of importance which it seems to hold in the eyes of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, we shall never have anything here except underpopulated ranches—that is, if we depend mainly on this trade. Of course, unscrupulous people can go down the country and suggest to the small farmer that people in this House and elsewhere are trying to damage his income and his livelihood by suggesting that the store cattle trade is not as good as the small farmer thinks it is and that people are trying to suggest that a levy should be put on store cattle for the purpose of setting up a dead meat industry.

I shall put it very simply. The way I look at it is this. I take west Roscommon which is an area in which farmers' valuations vary from £3 to £17. In a year some of those farmers sell three or four beasts in Ballaghaderreen. In my opinion that would be the maximum number they would sell in twelve months. The position at the moment is that very often a small farmer in that locality sells one or two beasts at the local fair and I have not the slightest doubt that that same farmer has one son or two sons working in England and it is probable that his own sons are employed in some industry which depends on the by-products of that beast bought in Ballaghaderreen. I believe every effort must be made to expand the dead meat trade so that the farmers' sons in such localities will be employed in this country. I do not care in what part of the country they are employed as long as it is in Ireland. It would be much better to have the beasts processed here than to send them on the hoof to Britain. It would be a much better proposition to sell the dead meat to Britain and process the by-products ourselves so that we can give employment.

It is not a simple proposition; it will not be done overnight and certainly it will not get the support from the public that it should get if we leave it in the hand of private enterprise which is exploiting the public at the moment. If the public are to have confidence in the dead meat trade, the trade will have to be handled by a State or semi-State body. I need not point out the confidence which the people have in a body such as the Irish Sugar Company. From the farmer to the consumer that Company has the confidence of the public. It is efficiently run and is reasonably fair and the question of exploitation never arises. The public and the farmers realise that, and surely the same should apply to a very important aspect of our agriculture, namely the cattle industry.

I am afraid this industry is in the wrong hands. Over the best last few years I have noticed the anxiety displayed by the commercial banks to throw money at organisations in this country to set up cattle marts like mushrooms It is significant that in many instances a great measure of the control over these marts is exercised from outside the country. It is significant that a number of farming groups in Britain, through their banking connections, have very close associations with the Irish cattle marts.

Whatever benefits accrue to the eradication of bovine tuberculosis through the erection of these marts, the fact remains that a straglehold is being placed on the farmer. The idea is that he is to be kept there purely as a supplier to the British markets, to be manipulated by British interests in whatever way suits them. Let us realise that so far as the marketing of cattle or anything else is concerned, we have no such thing as a marketing arrangement with Britain. Even with regard to the cattle produced in Ireland, it is British agents who buy them; it is British agents who export them; and in many instances it is British ships that carry them, so all we do is provide the raw material. One of our biggest needs, therefore, is a proper marketing arrangement and the State must provide that arrangement.

I have referred already to the fact that the same type of farming takes place on the 15 acre unit as on the 500 acre unit. Both carry out extensive farming rather than intensive farming. That is very plain to be seen if we examine the returns for tillage. In relation to the amount of land under the plough from time to time and the amount of land devoted to crops, we have a lower ratio, so far as I can gather, than any other country, although our land, our climate and everything else are suitable.

I notice that one year we have a record acreage and production so far as wheat is concerned; the following year there is a reduction in the acreage and the acreage of barley goes up, and vice versa. When we look at the overall increase, we find there is no overall improvement, and that one is up and the other is down, depending on which the farmer, or whoever grows the crops, thinks will be the more remunerative in a particular year. I believe we must have discipline and organisation in regard to the growing of crops, and especially in regard to the growing of wheat.

Deputy Esmonde rightly criticised the idea of thousands of pounds being spent on posters and advertisements all over the place urging the agricultural community to grow more wheat. The position for the past few years has been that when a certain amount of wheat has been grown over a certain figure, a levy has to be imposed. How does any farmer in his senses know what is the most judicious amount to grow in any year? Would it not be a better and more reasonable proposition to bring in the contract system? Why can the contract system not work here as it does in the growing of beet? Have we not had over the years practical concrete evidence of the scandalous exploitation that went on in relation to the growing of wheat? Have we not had evidence given by various members of this House of company directors, telephone farmers, and even foreigners, taking large tracts of land here in conacre for the growing of wheat and making tremendous profits? Have we not had evidence over the years that those people who took a large acreage of conacre are the people who brought in the big machinery, the large combine harvesters, which displaced the human element and, at the same time, contributed to upsetting the equilibrium in our balance of payments?

Surely, therefore, we should decide at this stage to cut out any question of large scale conacre and the exploitation of the community as such. We should concentrate on the medium or small farmer so far as the growing of wheat is concerned, and let him know what his price will be for a certain production and for a certain figure. That would mean that a certain amount of hard work would have to be done by the Department and it would mean that more control would have to be exercised over the millers. I understand we have a grain board, Bord Gráin, functioning at the moment. Surely if that board are to do any good work at all, that is the type of work they should be doing.

Barley is a very important grain and it is ideal for growing in certain counties in Ireland. An expansion in the growing of malting barley is held up because the processing of that barley into whiskey is in the hands of a few distillers who do not care tuppence about the country as a whole. Their records over the past 150 years show that they were anti-Irish. Those people had their chance, time after time, to tap the foreign market for the end product of malting barley, and time after time they let that chance slip through their hands because, as I have said repeatedly, they were not concerned with a foreign market.

Surely there is room in that field for the State to move in. Surely it would be much better for us to have intensive farming and to go in for industries based on agriculture rather than to be left dependent to a great extent for our industrial expansion on raw materials which have to be imported. We have no control or no say whatever over the price of those raw materials. Yet the concentration of effort goes into that arm while right under our feet we have the necessary wealth, if only we exploit and develop it.

I should like to ask the Government have they given serious consideration to developing the various types of agricultural produce which have been neglected up to the present. For instance, I am reminded of something which has been mentioned by other Deputies, namely, the growing of fruit and vegetables. I do not think it can be denied that for the small farmer, particularly in the west of Ireland, the ideal type of husbandry is horticulture.

At the moment there is a distinct prejudice, and the Minister knows it, in the minds of small farmers against the growing of vegetables and fruit. The rural community know very little about the scientific aspects of the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. Very few farmers grow vegetables. A change in production methods then will entail first-class educational facilities at the outset; first-class horticultural officers will have to be made available, perhaps one to every parish, for the purpose of advising, guiding and helping the small farmers in the growing of fruit and vegetables.

This is something, again, that will not be done by private enterprise. I want to pay tribute here to the Sugar Company for its pioneering activities in the growing of fruit and vegetables. At the same time, I have some criticism to offer, in that I cannot understand why it should be necessary to set up the pilot plant in connection with the processing of fruit and vegetables in Carlow. I understand that in Carlow the farmers are wedded to the growing of beet. We all know that in the west of Ireland the growing of beet has not been the success it was initially hoped it would be.

I believe that the concentration of effort with regard to the cultivation of fruit and vegetables should be sited in the west of Ireland. It is in the west of Ireland we need such cultivation to give some hope there for the future. It is from the west of Ireland that the biggest population drain takes place. It is there we will have to stabilise the population. We shall not do that by depending on store cattle. We shall have gradually to win the people from that type of husbandry to a more paying one, a more important one, and one that will give much more employment.

The market is there in Britain. Let the Minister not tell me that the market is not available. The figures for processed food and vegetables in Britain reaches the £1,000 million mark. Over 25 to 30 per cent. of that market is met by imports from other countries. We have not tapped even an infinitesimal fraction of one per cent. of that market. Why? Because we have left the cultivation of fruit and vegetables in the hands of a few private concerns which are interested in producing peas, or jam, or something else, for the home market and which have shown no interest whatever in getting into an export market.

As has been said elsewhere by a well-known statesman: the winds of change are beginning to blow. It is encouraging in this debate to hear Deputies from the Fine Gael benches advocating that the Minister and the Government should step in now and control the bacon industry and the dead meat industry. It is encouraging to find the Leader of the Clann na Talmhan Party advocating that the small farmer should be given security and a guaranteed market for his produce. It is encouraging to hear the same leader advert to the fact that the welfare State is the attraction for the migrant and that we, consequently, must provide some alternative at home. When that view becomes prevalent in these Parties, then it is certain that same view obtains in Fianna Fáil. The only trouble is that, up to the moment, Fianna Fáil have remained almost silent in this debate.

Let us hope that when the necessary changes are being made in the near future—I gather certain changes will be made with regard to the setting up of State or semi-State bodies to deal with improving agricultural output— there will be agreement in this House on these changes. Let us hope that it will be possible to forget the idea which has been so prevalent up to this, namely, that when Fiann Fáil are out of office, they can delude the small farmer into believing that they are his best friends; when they are back in office, others suffer from the delusion that the only way to save the small farmer is by putting back into Government the people then in Opposition, namely, the Fine Gael Party.

There is no difference between them as far as the small farmer is concerned. For the past 30 years, both Parties have pursued the same policy, with, perhaps, minor adjustments in relation to the price of wheat, or oats, or a guarantee in relation to something else. Fundamentally, there has been no difference between the Parties. Neither has made a genuine attempt to get the export market properly organised or controlled. Both must carry the blame for that.

Let us hope, before it is too late, that we shall get agreement in this House that marketing arrangements must be handled by the State, through the medium of State or semi-State bodies. Let us hope these bodies will have on them representatives of the farming community—the producers. We cannot hope to achieve here in a short time what it took Denmark and other European countries 70 to 100 years to accomplish. The co-operative movement in Denmark grew up over a century. It is now the driving force in agriculture. Such a co-operative movement cannot, in my opinion, be put into operation here for various reasons, reasons which I do not propose to examine here now, but the next best thing can be done. We should be able to bridge the gap between us and these more progressive countries by the establishment of State or semi-State bodies working in conjunction with the farmers' cooperatives.

One example we have of that is the Beet Growers' Association. That body acts as the farmer's protector, adviser and friend. They consult with the State body, the Sugar Company. and, between the two, the interests of the State and the interests of the producers and consumers are looked after. That is the ideal to be followed in all the other fields. Let us hope there will be no further delay in getting down to work.

Listening to this debate, one thing is very evident. I did not have the advantage of hearing the earlier debate, but I did listen to Deputy Esmonde to-day. Like myself, he comes from a tillage county.

Apparently the only hope he holds out for wheat farmers is to get Deputy Dillon back into office. I am rather surprised to hear him say that because I wonder does he know his leader's views on wheat? As far as we know, wheat is something we convert into bread and, if Deputy Esmonde would like to know Deputy Dillon's views on bread produced from Irish wheat, I shall give them to him:

... for the first time since the emergency, we had the enthralling, stimulating and surprising experience of eating bread made out of Irish wheat. Before you ate it, you had to hold it out in your hands, squeeze the water out of it, then tease it out and make up your mind whether it was a handful of boot polish or a handful of bread. If it was boot polish, you put it on your boots or shoes and if it was bread, you tried to masticate it if you were fit.

That is from column 2050, Volume 106, of the Official Report for the 18th June, 1947. He is the man who, for six years when in office, did his damnedest to kill the growing of wheat, and he got stifled in wheat just as he himself was going to smother the English in eggs.

I remember going to him in 1955 as a representative of the Wheat Growers' Association and he told me he had a headache for a month bothering about what he would do with the surplus wheat on hands. He got over that problem by leaving the surplus wheat after him when he cleared out of office and letting a certain incoming Minister deal with it.

Did you like the way it was dealt with?

It was dealt with anyway. There was no hesitancy about doing what was my responsibility.

It was thrown away.

Did you want to put it in a cage? Do tell us.

When those two have finished, I shall continue. To be quite frank about it, I do not see any hope for Deputy Crotty's constituency, Deputy Esmonde's constituency, my own constituency, or the constituency of any tillage area in the country by reverting to Deputy Dillon as Minister for Agriculture.

Then, too, we heard a growl from Deputy Esmonde about feeding barley and the price paid for it, but we must remember that during the three-year period while the late Tom Walsh, God rest his soul, was Minister for Agriculture, the price of wheat was 82/6d. a barrel and the price of barley was 48/- a barrel. That was for feeding barley and in 1953, there were 881,867 pigs in the country. In 1955, during Deputy Dillon's term of office, that number had fallen to 798,845. I shall give the reasons for that later, but, despite the fact that feeding barley cost 48/- a barrel, there were 881,000 pigs fattened in 1953, and no one was complaining, not even those who were feeding the pigs with it.

To understand the position in which prices are now 40/- and 38/- a barrel, one must investigate its background. On 17th February, 1960, as reported at column 404, Volume 179 of the Official Report, Deputy Dillon asked the Minister for Agriculture:

whether any steps can be taken by way of freight subsidy or otherwise to reduce the cost of homegrown barley to the farmers of North Monaghan, whose costs of production are seriously increased by the obligation to use barley derived from sources as far away from them as County Cork.

Apparently, even though that is Deputy Dillon's constituency, they were not in a position to walk them off the land. I do not know what happened them.

They went across the Border.

The Minister replied:

Under the arrangements made for the marketing of home-grown barley of the 1959 crop I am satisfied that the millers and compounders catering for the feeders in North Monaghan made every effort to secure their requirements of feeding barley from the nearest and cheapest source. As evidence of this there is the fact that the prices of pig foods in North Monaghan are in line with the prices for similar feeding stuffs throughout the country. In the circumstances it is not proposed to introduce special facilities for that area as suggested.

That shows where the shoe pinches and I am making no bones about it. The tillage farmers in the south who grow feeding barley are faced with that position of affairs. That is what brought the price of barley down from 48/- to 40/- a barrel and I say that is what is holding it at its present figure of 38/- a barrel. I make no bones about it.

Tell us what is wrong with that?

There is no one fool enough in the country to grow feeding barley at 38/- a barrel and go "broke". That is what is wrong with it, in very plain and unadulterated language.

They grew more last year than any year before.

They did, and when they found out what happened, they went back to wheat.

Not all of them.

I would advise Deputy Corry to come over to this side of the House.

I would advise Deputy Palmer to try to mind his pen and pencil and not interest himself at all in farming. I am describing the position as I find it. I say that we tillage farmers cannot afford two reductions, one after the other, and it is as well to be plain and straight about it. That is one of the reasons why the bottom was knocked out of the price of barley and the other was Deputy Dillon coming into office in 1954.

When I see Deputy Dillon weeping crocodile tears about the small farmers, I feel compelled to quote the statement he made in this House—the Lord between us and all harm! Deputy Dillon was dealing with the problems of the beet farmer. This is what he said:—

There remains beet—the blessings of beet! Some day, and in the not too far distant time, our people will have to ask themselves whether it is in the best interests of the community as a whole to continue the production of sugar from beet in this country at an annual cost to the community of £3,000,000 sterling. That is what it costs in normal times to keep the beet industry going in this country. If, instead of growing beet and converting it into sugar, we import refined sugar into this country there will be £3,000,000 sterling more for the national exchequer...

That is the statement made by Deputy James Dillon in this House on the 18th June, 1947. That is the statement of the man the Deputies opposite want to put in charge of our agriculture.

I was wondering what were Deputy Dillon's reactions to the manoeuvre carried out by the British Government during his term of office when a special levy was paid on sugar imported into Britain to provide a build-up for the British Commonwealth price. Deputy Dillon told us himself when he spoke here on the 12th July last:

Now, that is a pretty comprehensive Article and yet with that Article in existence, I understand that goods containing Irish sugar are being subjected to a very formidable levy, the proceeds of which are devoted to the subsidisation of goods of similar quality containing sugar derived from crown Colonies of the British Crown. I am told, I think, by some of the Minister's colleagues, that when Deputy Norton was Minister for Industry and Commerce, this matter arose and that he did not consider it desirable to press the interpretation of Article V which would give us the right to claim exemption from that levy.

I do not know what the position is in regard to that. I have no recollection of hearing the matter discussed when I was a member of the inter-Party Government, although it could have happened and has passed out of my memory but I do not remember it and I have not discussed the matter with Deputy Norton.

The decision on that matter would seem to lie with a Minister other than the Minister for Agriculture.

I am quoting from the debate on agriculture in this House last week and I am reading extracts from the speech made by Deputy James Dillon. Surely if he was in order to make that statement, I am in order in quoting it?

It does not follow. The Deputy was referring to a decision made by a Minister other than the Minister for Agriculture, the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

I am dealing here——

I heard the Deputy deal with this matter.

I intend to deal with it further.

If it does not arise, the Deputy may not deal with it any further.

I do not like quoting yourself, Sir. Shall I quote you?

The Deputy would in a minute.

I have him here. He informed me it was a matter for agriculture when I was last dealing with it in the House.

That is the position in regard to Deputy Dillon's activities in this line. It is no wonder that the gentleman who told us the proper thing to do was to close the beet factories and bring in foreign sugar should adopt that line. At the same time his colleague, Deputy Norton, was opening the door to let in £2,000,000's worth of foreign sugar. No wonder Deputy Dillon took no interest in it when he was Minister for Agriculture. He had a hatred of beet. He wanted to see beet go up the spout.

That is not at all correct.

Shall I read it out for the Deputy?

I have heard enough of the Deputy's reading.

If Deputy Palmer wants to know his Leader's opinion, I would advise him to get this and study it.

We have nothing to study from the Deputy's speech so far.

Take it home and read it in your leisure hours.

We want something constructive.

From what I know of our Minister for Agriculture he is more interested in beet than Deputy Dillon. I raised this matter here last February but few people were inclined to pay much attention to it. However, it came up again on the 2nd June when we had this matter out very fully. I was supported then by Deputy Cosgrave. In seeking markets for our agricultural products we are up against the blunder made by Deputy Norton in 1956 and the ignorance displayed by his fellow Minister, Deputy Dillon, which has brought about a position in which we are robbed of a market worth £2 million to the farmers.

We imported last year—I like to be exact in my figures——

Put on your glasses.

I have them on. We imported 64,550 tons of refined sugar, value £1,921,816. That is a market that belongs to our tillage farmers. I am not concerned, but there is some advice I would give. That is that in future when negotiations on matters of that description are taking place somebody should be present who knows something about it. When you are negotiating on the question of sugar——

Is that sugar not coming in all the time?

Do not draw me.

When you are negotiating a trade agreement on sugar with another country the proper thing is to have the general manager of the sugar company present—he knows all about it—instead of having him spend a week or a fortnight dinning the ramifications of the matter into the head of some civil servant and then having that fellow go over and make a mess of it——

Is it proper for the Deputy to make these allegations against the civil servants? Is the Minister not responsible for the civil servants of his Department?

The Minister is responsible for his Estimate. The Deputy made no specific allegation against a civil servant.

He said the civil servants made a muddle of the trade agreement.

I was only trying to relieve Deputy Norton and if Deputy O'Sullivan does not want it that way, well and good. Would it not be better for Deputy Norton if he had taken General Costello with him when making that agreement? Then perhaps we would not have the muddle, trouble and annoyance that every one of us in the beet-growing area had last year through the cutting down in the acreage of beet. Why did Deputy Norton —even though Deputy Dillon did not like it, apparently—not take General Costello with him in making that agreement? I do not want to throw too much water but the Opposition must be like ducks; they seem to like it.

Anyhow, that brought about the present condition of affairs and we are now asking our Minister for Agriculture to take up that situation and work on. In 1948, we negotiated a Trade Agreement, according to Deputy Dillon. Article 5 of the Agreement reads:

The Government of the United Kingdom undertake that where goods, the growth, produce or manufacture of Ireland, are dutiable at preferential rates of duty, they will not vary the existing preferential treatment of these goods in such a way as to put any class of goods, the growth, produce or manufacture of Ireland at a disadvantage in relation to goods of that class from other sources enjoying preferential treatment.

That is a quotation given by Deputy Dillon on the 12th July, 1960.

What happened in connection with this market of £2,000,000 for Irish farmers for beet? Evidently, Deputy Norton, when he went across, did not read that; his attention was not called to it by his advisers, apparently. Therefore he did not raise any difficulty. He thought there was not a breach of any agreement. What happened was this: you have a preferential duty on sugar and sugar goods going into Britain which is the same as the Commonwealth rate of duty. In 1956 the British got a brain wave. They put a special levy of 16/- per cwt. on all Irish sugar going into Britain and on all Commonwealth sugar.

This would seem to be a matter for the Department of Industry and Commerce.

Unfortunately, it is not: it is a matter for Agriculture. It concerns the sale or production here of £2,000,000 worth of beet.

It is a matter for the Department of Industry and Commerce. A decision in regard to it would lie with a Minister other than the Minister for Agriculture.

The Minister for Agriculture is responsible for the production of all agricultural produce.

That is certainly a very wide statement.

By this manoeuvre the 16/- per cwt. was used to subsidise Commonwealth sugar imported to Britain. They said to the Commonwealth countries: "We shall give you a guaranteed price of £54 per ton for sugar." The Irish sugar was selling at £40. The British used the 16/- a cwt. to pay that subsidy. That is why foreign sugar was imported and why our beet growers are deprived of a market worth £2,000,000.

The Deputy may be correct but nevertheless the Minister for Agriculture has no responsibility in this matter. The decision did not lie with him.

The Minister for Agriculture is a member of the Government and the Government have a policy. If anything happens that may injure the agricultural community or the industry that the Minister for Agriculture represents, it is his duty to make representations to the Government to protect the farmers from that danger.

The Minister is responsible for his Department and not for the Department of Industry and Commerce which the Deputy has been discussing for the past twenty minutes.

Put on your glasses again.

All gone up the spout.

I refer the Chair to Column 637 of the Dáil Debates for 2nd June, 1960. When I was dealing with this matter the Ceann Comhairle said:—

I suggest to the Deputy that that can be discussed more relevantly on the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture.

I replied:—

Yes, but if I talk about this on the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture, you, Sir, will tell me that it is a matter for Industry and Commerce.

That is what the Deputy has been told.

I refer you to Column 637.

I am referring the Deputy to the ruling I have just made.

All right, Sir. The question of beet, therefore, is like the will-o'-the-wisp. It was forbidden from Hell and from Heaven to follow the will-o'-the-wisp. That is the position as regards the beet industry. However, I have made my point, but I could not follow it up. We shall have another day, I hope, on that.

I was dealing some time ago with Deputy Dillon's activities in regard to feeding barley. I pointed out one reason why Deputy Dillon was anxious that the price of feeding barley would be dragged down from 48/-, at which it was held by the late Deputy Tom Walsh, to 40/-.

The Deputy did not know what feeding barley was until he introduced it.

I have to go back a fairly considerable period, to Wednesday, 23rd March, 1955 and then I shall give the other reason. I quote from the Official Report of 23rd March, 1955, Column 514:—

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Norton): I move:—

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £250,000 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1955, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, including certain Services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain Subsidies and sundry Grants-in-Aid.

This Supplementary Estimate is required to meet the increased costs of the flour and wheatenmeal subsidy, £372,000, ... It was originally calculated that the reduction in flour and bread prices as from the 1st May, 1954, would add approximately £900,000 to the bill for subsidy for the financial year 1954/55. In actual fact the reduction will cost £927,000 against which, however, can be offset items amounting to about £555,000...

The chief offset items... are:—

(a) increased receipts by flour millers from sales of wheaten offals over and above the amount originally estimated:

Increases in the price of offals, from £20 to £23 per ton in September, 1954, to £24 10s. in December, 1954, and to £26 a ton in January, 1955, account for increased receipts by millers of approximately £170,000.

That would not arise on the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture. The Deputy has pointed out that this was moved by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Therefore it could not be discussed relevantly on this Estimate for Agriculture.

I should like to point out to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle that I am giving the reason why we farmers got a cut of £4 a ton in our feeding barley. The reason was that the then Minister for Agriculture, in cooperation with the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, wanted to collect from the pig feeders of this country a penal tax. They imposed that penal tax in this manner.

The Minister for Agriculture has no responsibility in this matter. The Deputy has informed the House that this was a matter for the Minister for Industry and Commerce and not for Agriculture.

No, Sir. I have read the statement made by the then Minister for Industry and Commerce when he increased the price of the pig ration that had to be used by those who were under the wing of the Minister for Agriculture. When I followed that matter up, Sir, I found that early in 1957 the statement made here by the present Taoiseach was that there was collected in that manner £1,096,000 from the pig feeders. Then we have the crocodile tears here and we are told about the doors that were locked and the small farmers who went away. Every time that one of them went out with a bucket of ration to feed his pigs he had to contribute an indirect tax to the Government of Deputy Dillon and Deputy Norton. That was the position and that is another reason why Deputy Dillon reduced the price of feeding barley from 48/- to 40/- a barrel.

Is it not extraordinary that these people did not go away until now? Did that ever strike the Deputy?

I was down canvassing the Deputy for a Seanad vote. He was out. I was unable to meet him. I was sorry I did not meet him. I travelled five miles along the road at that time and saw many empty houses and I was sorry. That was in the inter-Party Government's time.

Perhaps the Deputy will come back to the Estimate for Agriculture.

I will, Sir, when the boys stop interrupting me.

Coming down to Bill Murphy for a Seanad vote—would you believe that?

Deputy Murphy will get every opportunity to make his own statement.

Would you believe that he would come down to me for a Seanad vote?

It shows that there was something wrong.

I got all the Deputy's pals but not himself.

The Deputy did not get all my pals.

Deputy Murphy should not interrupt.

All right, Sir.

That was the condition of affairs that brought the number of pigs down from 881,000 to 700,000 in 1955. That is the sympathy Deputy Dillon and Deputy Norton had for those 10 to 15-acre farmers about whom they are weeping crocodile tears now. I think the Minister has been wrong in fixing the price of feeding barley at 38/- a barrel. I agree with Deputy Esmonde that the Minister has driven the farmers back to wheat by that action. It is very hard to understand some of the things that are done. For example, in January to December, 1959, we imported 873,000 tons of offals at a cost of £843,000 and exported 191,000 tons of offals for £167,639. Whether it was to keep the shipping companies going this kind of lunacy was indulged in, I do not know, but can anyone imagine a ship coming in one day with £843,000 worth of corn offals and on the following day, going out with £167,000 worth?

The question of shipping would arise under another heading.

The question of the importation of corn offals for feeding cattle arises under this heading.

The Deputy is discussing shipping.

What is the reason for exporting animal feeding stuffs to-day and importing foreign feeding stuffs tomorrow at the same price? Furthermore, 35,000 cwts. of malt for £74,000 were exported and my information— and I challenge denial of it—is that the exporters of that malt who bought our barley at 38/- a barrel, converted it into malt and exported it, were rewarded with licences for the importation of maize meal and they sold those licences to a Cork merchant at £3 a ton. There were 1,347,000 cwts. of maize imported in the past 12 months costing £1,293,000, and I notice in Deputy Moher's speech here the other night that that was being sold at around 34/- a cwt.

For whom are we working? Is it for the farmer or the importer? There is a big difference between 21/- and 34/- a cwt. Who got the money? If a maize licence is worth £3 a ton, as it was worth to the boys who exported the malt, would it not be worth £3 to the farmer who had to pay for the maize? I claim that money is the property of Irish farmers.

We spent some 20 odd years in carrying out experiments in the Cork County Committee of Agriculture on the feeding and fattening of pigs with barley as against maize. When I saw this craze for maize coming back, I looked up those reports. That is one of the misfortunes of being such a long time in public life. You can always put your finger on these things, just as I put my finger on Deputy Dillon's statement in 1947. According to the results of these experiments carried out over a period of 20 years, Irish barley, cwt. for cwt., is equal to maize meal for fattening pigs. If it is equal to maize meal for fattening pigs and if the pig feeder has to pay £34 a ton for the maize meal, as Deputy Moher stated last Thursday, I see no reason why 48/- a barrel should not be paid for the barley. It would mean only a little less profit for the man throwing it into the bag and a bit of sawdust with it and sending it back to them. I can see no justification for the importation of over £1,000,000 worth of foreign meal whilst the Irish farmer is prepared to produce feeding barley for the needs of the nation.

The more one looks into this Book, the more puzzling it becomes. Just imagine bringing in over £800,000 worth of corn offals and at the same time, exporting 831,000 cwts. of wheat for £866,000. Is there any man living, except a lunatic, who will tell me that the skin of wheat in the shape of wheat offals is better for our cattle than the whole wheat we are exporting? That was done. Why, I do not know. We paid exactly the same sum for the corn offals we brought in as we were paid for the wheat we sent out. I am reasonable in most things but I cannot understand that kind of policy.

I shall give Deputy W. Murphy another quotation in regard to his leader's policy to take home with him. This quotation comes from the Official Report of 18th June, 1947, column 2048. Deputy Dillon is reported as follows:

We are subsidising butter production to the tune of £2,000,000 per annum. How long will that go on? Do we expect butter to get dearer in the markets of the world? Do we expect a time in the early future when the price of milk will become so adjusted—

He did not say he would reduce it; he said it would be "adjusted".

—that it will be possible to suspend this subsidy or do we intend to continue producing milk for conversion into butter in creameries at an annual cost to the taxpayer of £2,000,000 per annum? I want it to go on record most emphatically that I think such a policy is sheer insanity and is purely pursued for the purpose of maintaining the prestige of incompetents in the offices of the Minister for Agriculture...

That was Deputy Dillon's statement on the conversion of milk into butter. He had two spells in office. He evidently continued to maintain incompetents in the Department of Agriculture because we still have the creameries and the butter. The three main items of Deputy Dillon's stated policy are: (1) closing the factories and bringing in foreign sugar; (2) abolishing wheat-growing; and (3) fixing the price of feeding barley at such a level that the farmers will give up growing it and importing maize meal instead.

I cannot understand the difference of treatment in relation to the eradication of bovine tuberculosis as between one county and another. Veterinary officers tell us it is a very contagious disease. I have booklets showing the number of ways in which it can be spread amongst the herd. Consider a small farmer in my county with ten cows. The veterinary surgeon examines them. Suppose three of them go down. Then, when he examines the dry stock, there are two yearling bullocks that go down also. The Minister has been fair and generous as far as compensation for an animal that has to be removed is concerned. What is the use of removing the three cows and leaving the two yearling bullocks to spread the disease? Once they are earmarked, there is no more about it. No man will buy them except perhaps Deputy Dillon. However, they are left there. The Department will take no steps to have them removed. There is no compensation whatever for them, whilst in the next county, just across the ditch, a man is paid the value of his bullocks when they are taken away.

If there is to be any hope for our cattle trade, bovine tuberculosis must be eradicated. How will we get rid of it? Will we get rid of it by making a big circle of counties on a map and saying that within that area we shall pay no compensation for the store cattle or bullock and saying in respect of the other counties that we shall compensate the farmers for every animal that goes down, bullock or heifer? That is the difference between the policy pursued in certain counties and the policy pursued in county Cork.

It is like a dream to me that I heard that before.

I hope that by hearing it long enough it will sink in. The facts are there. If we are to get rid of bovine tuberculosis in this country, it will not be got rid of by a Government policy which allows to remain on the land animals suffering from bovine T.B. Personally, I am clear. I think that my neighbours are not. First of all, I showed them the road by example. When I come to my neighbour, he points to two or three little heifers or bullocks branded as having gone down by the vet. They cannot be sold. They have to remain there until they become two or three year olds and are turned into beef if the owner is to get anything at all.

A sensible approach to this matter would be, when you are clearing a herd, to clear all of them. It would not cost much more money and it would speed up the eradication of bovine T.B. in Cork county by at least two or three years. It would be a lot faster than the scheme introduced for Bansha by Deputy Dillon. I believe it is the one parish in this country where there are more reactors to-day than when this scheme started six years ago. That is a very bad example.

I should like the Minister also to speed up the examination of herds. A neighbour of mine came to me about a fortnight ago. He told me that it was nearly three months since he notified the veterinary officers in connection with 120 cows. They are since eating the furze off the ditches. He cannot sell those cattle until such time as the Minister's veterinary officers come down to vet the cattle. Something should be done to speed up the matter. That is all I have to say. I have put the case as clearly as I could.

I think that the Estimate for Agriculture is one which should not be spoken to idly. Listening to Deputy Corry for the past hour or more, I certainly cannot help thinking that he seems to make a joke of the whole thing. During that hour or more it was a pity he did not put up some constructive ideas which might be helpful to the Minister to carry out what is no doubt an arduous task for him. Instead of that, the Deputy seemed to be rambling over the past. Deputy Dillon seemed to be the one bee in his bonnet. His own Minister did not escape. According to Deputy Corry, the task of the Minister for Agriculture, no matter what Party he belongs to, is certainly not an enviable one. According to the Deputy also, Ministers for Agriculture do things they should not do and do not do the things they ought to do. That is about as far as he went so far as constructive debate was concerned. I shall leave Deputy Corry at that.

When I commenced my speech, I said this was an Estimate which should not be idly spoken to. I say that because I firmly and honestly believe that it is an Estimate to promote an industry which has on more than one occasion proved to be the saviour of this country. I also say it is an Estimate of the utmost importance. It is an Estimate which should be considered in a cool, calm and commonsense way.

This is the year 1960 and if Ministers for Agriculture of the past and even the present Minister, according to Deputy Corry, have made mistakes, surely it is about time now they learned from those mistakes if they got the help of the House? Needless to say, without Deputy Corry I think something constructive could be done.

Agriculture as it stands is the one industry which can in its own way be very easily handled. It is an industry for which special factories have not to be built, nor have we to bring in foreigners to tell us how we can run it. Every little farmyard in this country, let it be big or small, is undoubtedly a cog in the big wheel in that industry—even the labourer's cottage where the housewife may have only two little pigs or a flock of hens. She is an asset to that industry.

We make every effort to see that the goods from industry are properly marketed. Here we have our own little factories producing everything they were asked to produce. They have gone into the ground to take the best out of it to produce and overproduce for that agricultural industry. The more they produce the less they get. There should be markets for that exportable produce. Above all, that exportable produce should be marketed in such a way that it will be capable of competing with similar products from the different countries. To my mind, that is of the greatest importance.

It was only the other evening that two English visitors called to my home. A friend of mine told them to call to see me if they were passing through Ennis and that I would direct them on the road to Galway where they would see something to interest them. It was their first time in this country, due to Bord Fáilte. The good lady told me she was influenced to visit this country by the constant advertisements which met her eye about coming to Ireland. She made up her mind and came over, accompanied by her husband. They were delighted with the country, with the way they were treated and with the people. However, she asked me one question which stayed in my mind.

One of the things she liked was our butter and she asked me how it was that she could not get anything like it in England. I said that we sent our butter to England but unfortunately we sent it in bulk and not in pound packages like that which comes from Denmark and New Zealand. That is where the difference lay.

I am not blaming anybody for that but it is something which might usefully be considered by the Minister or the marketing board which is to be set up. At the present moment, everybody will agree with me, the cattle trade is at a very low ebb. I am not going to say who is responsible for that and I do not know what is the cause, but I know that the state of this industry is hitting our rural towns and villages very hard at the moment. There may be one or two reasons for that but I believe the principal reason is the bovine tuberculosis eradication scheme. That scheme has been criticised and at times criticised severely. If we study the matter, we find that it is a problem which England has been tackling over the past thirty years. As yet, their scheme has not succeeded fully and is it not too much to expect that in ten or twelve years we could do what England has not been able to do in 30 years?

This is a scheme which appeared as a strange one to the farmers when it was introduced. As a matter of fact, I remember when Deputy Dillon was Minister for Agriculture and this scheme was in vogue, I heard many farmers saying that it was a madcap scheme and I well remember that when he was in office, it was boycotted to a certain extent. The result is that it was only during the past five years that the scheme got under way at all. That is why I say we cannot expect to do in a few years what England has failed to do in 30 years.

The farmers had their doubts about the scheme and they are still doubtful about it, and it is extraordinary how those doubts have been substantiated due to the many changes which have taken place in the tests. Today, you have a herd tested and you may find two doubtfuls and one or two reactors. The reactors are taken away. Then, you have the next test and you find that the doubtfuls are all right and that some of those which were previously tested are now doubtfuls. That is something which the Department must look after. It is something about which the farmers have to be educated. Personally, I believe that it does not matter what instructions come from the Department and it does not matter what the Minister may do; if he and the Department do not get the cooperation of the farmers, the scheme will never come to fruition. I say that because I honestly believe it to be true. For that reason, I believe it should be brought home to the farmers that things cannot be done in a year or two. They must get time and it is up to the Department of Agriculture to instruct the farmers.

At present we have many organisations looking after this industry. We have the National Farmers Association, Macra na Feirme and others. I believe that if they want to do any good, they should combine. They should come together as one body, carrying with them their own ideas and pooling their knowledge to instruct the farmer in what he should do. Until such time as that is done, I believe the agricultural industry will be in jeopardy. Certainly at the moment its position is very bad. Today the farmer, especially the small farmer, cannot afford to give his cattle away for nothing. The big farmer has his chance all the time, but I believe that if you offered the cattle for nothing, they would not be taken. Something should be done about that and it must be done quickly. Otherwise, the whole structure will fall down.

I am making these remarks without prejudice against anybody. As I said at the beginning, this is the one Estimate which should not be taken idly but which should be spoken to in all sincerity. It should not be spoken to as Deputy Corry spoke to it, with his Dáil Debates of previous sessions. That does not count now. We must forget the past. We are living in the year 1960 and we must stand up to 1960. We must forget the past if we want to do anything for our people and now is the time to work for a brighter future for our people than they have at the moment.

My intervention in this debate will be for only a few minutes. I rise mainly to give my contribution on what I believe is the most vexed problem in agriculture at the moment. If I followed the line of my colleague, Deputy Corry, and had a long line of books before me, some of them going back as far as 1947, and quoted from speeches made here last week, I do not think I would be doing anything very effective for the farmers of East Cork who sent me here. I prefer to follow another line and I hope my contribution will be constructive, or if not constructive, at least will provide food for thought for the Minister and the Government.

I want to refer also to what I have already described as the most vexed question in agriculture in Ireland today—the eradication of bovine tuberculosis. Deputy Murphy has just referred to it also. I want to be quite frank although I know that what I am about to say may be treated with ridicule, and perhaps scorn, by members on all sides of the House. I shall say it because I believe it to be true. I do not know who first conceived the idea of the eradication of bovine tuberculosis in other countries but I believe whoever conceived it was thinking with the wrong side of his head. That is a strange statement to make here but I am convinced that it should never have been thought of. If it should never have been thought of in other countries, it must necessarily follow from my argument that it should not be thought of here.

I believe that if we are to pursue the solution of this big problem logically—and a big problem it is—we must think of other ways and means of circumventing it. If instead of spending all those huge sums of money which we have been spending and propose to spend on the eradication of bovine tuberculosis, we took another view, I believe we would accomplish a better day's work. My personal view is that instead of attempting to deal with the problem in the way proposed we should subsidise the export of fat cattle.

How, I may be asked, does that get around the problem of the eradication of bovine tuberculosis? We shall get around it in this way. We all know quite well that when cattle are fat and near slaughter—"near the knife," as the butchers say—the problem of bovine tuberculosis does not arise. I honestly believe if we tackle the problem this way and spend this money, or part of it, on subsidising the export or the slaughter of fat cattle at home, we would be doing a far better day's work than by poking around this problem—and "poking" is the only way I can describe it. Personally I cannot see the end of it. We shall still be spending millions and millions and we still shall not have solved the problem.

With regard to the question of subsidising fat cattle for export or slaughter at home, the first thing that will suggest itself to any thinking man is that that would do away with the export of store cattle. That is true. I still believe in the policy of the previous Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Dillon, that we should walk them off the land. Is this not a most admirable way of walking them off the land? Someone may perhaps say that the small farmer may be victimised and that he will not have a market for his store cattle. My suggestion is that a subsidy should be paid not only on our cattle for export and fit for slaughter at home but also on the cattle at home. Then the small farmer or the man who rears store cattle and, as a rule, makes his living out of the rearing and selling of those store cattle will still be safeguarded against the man who is getting the subsidy and is prepared to pay him a reasonable price for them, and is also prepared to fatten them here himself.

If any encouragement was given the job could be done. There is no doubt that we have in this country land and grass well fit to fatten cattle in the summer and with a little encouragement, and the application of the scientific knowledge of agriculture we now possess, they could easily be fattened also in the winter months. That would have the advantage that much of the grain which we grow could be used at home. It would also have the advantage of keeping some of the people who unfortunately have to leave the country at home working, tending and fattening those cattle. I believe that if we had another look at this big vexed problem, perhaps the suggestion I am now making, contemptible or ridiculous as it may seem, would, after the second or third look, appear to have something in it.

I rise in all sincerity to put that point of view. I know it is highly likely that one section will have little regard for my suggestion. I refer, of course, to the veterinary surgeons, but I think there are very reasonable men in that profession also. In fact, quite a few of them are personal and sincere friends of mine. I think that if their view were canvassed in a sincere way, they would agree that no matter how we tackle this problem—and we have seen all the snags over the past 12 monthsit is highly unlikely that bovine tuberculosis will be successfully eradicated in the manner in which it is being tackled now. I appeal to the Minister to have a look at my suggestion. It may be belated, but better late than never.

I hesitated to rise in order to give members of the Government Party an opportunity of contributing to the debate. In any debate it is frustrating when a situation arises when three or four Deputies on one side have to rise, one after the other, because those sitting behind the Government do not appear to be in a position to say anything in support of the Government's policy. The debate started badly because, after the Minister sat down, obviously an order was issued to Deputies sitting behind the Minister to keep out of the debate. It took a courageous Corkman like Deputy Moher to break the barrier and make a contribution.

Listening to Deputy Moher, one began to understand why that prohibition was placed on Deputies sitting in the Government benches because some of his remarks were highly critical of the Minister's handling of the Department. The limit was reached when his colleague, who likes to regard himself as a senior member, spoke a little while ago. In the midst of the drivel we had to listen to for upwards of an hour, there was one clear statement which must attract the attention of the entire House. Deputy Corry said he does not know what the Government's policy is in relation to agriculture. If Deputy Corry makes a statement such as that, how can the people of the country be expected to know it?

I see Deputy Loughman is in the House. I thought he would avail of this opportunity to intervene following on his statement last week that the farmers were well off, that he would rise to prove how well off they are, and bring home to us the events which brought about this extraordinary prosperity which he claims they now enjoy. He was careful to put on record when Deputy Flanagan was speaking, that he did not say they were very well off, but that they were well off.

I pointed out that Deputy Flanagan was exaggerating.

At any rate, he said they were well off. If they are well off, having suffered a reduction of £17.4 millions in their incomes, I wonder how Deputy Loughman would describe their conditions at the time this Government assumed office? That figure of £17.4 millions does not take into account any changes in the costs of production since this Government assumed office and that is a facet of the whole situation with which I intend to deal.

I contend that the most undesirable development in agriculture over the past two years was the increasing cost of production. If I may, I should like to recapitulate the developments of the past decade. In 1947, we had a situation where, far from being able to provide substantial exports to contribute to the country's wellbeing, we were not in a position to give the people resident in this country enough food.

Butter was rationed. Exports had reached an all-time low level. We had to break through the long-established conservative attitude of the farmers, because over the years, they had grown so dispirited with the policy of the Fianna Fáil Government that they could not see the latent possibilities in the agricultural industry. It was only after the change of Government in 1948, and the enactment of the 1948 Trade Agreement, that the latent possibilities in the agricultural industry were brought home to the farmers. It was no easy task for the inter-Party Government of the time to inspire the farmers and bring them to a realisation of the capabilities of their holdings. It was only after they had enjoyed the substantial increase secured for their livestock that they began to invest in the improvement of their holdings and their homesteads. It was only after the farm improvements scheme had been introduced and developed, after rural electrification had been extended on the widest scale, after soil testing had got under way, and after an expansion in advisory services, that it became possible to record a growing volume of exports with the concomitant higher standard of living those exports made possible.

What was the position on the advent of this Government? This Government were presented with a situation which they said they found embarrassing; they had inherited a number of agricultural surpluses. But they did not have the headaches of the Government who came into office in 1948. Nevertheless, they told us they were embarrassed by the surpluses they had to look after. What a change! All this Government had to do over the past two years was to find markets for the goods our people were producing. They added to their difficulties in that respect by increasing the difficulties of the primary producer in adding to his costs of production.

Let us examine the methods they so mistakenly adopted in bringing about that situation. First of all, they removed the food subsidies. Speaking here on Social Welfare, the Minister for Social Welfare implied that great benefits accrue to the farmers whenever the cost of living goes up. Let us examine the position from another point of view. When food was subsidised in this country—let me emphasise, in this country—not alone was it subsidised to the consumer but it was also subsidised to the producer because it assisted the primary producer in our main industry in combating some of the difficulties with which he was faced. The farmers had reached the zenith. In the south, there was a challenge. It was the challenge of margarine to Irish creamery butter.

The inter-Party Government maintained the food subsidies. They had also to find more money to subsidise other foodstuffs as they became available. They eliminated controls and restrictions. They did away with rationing. There is no doubt that the Minister for Finance of the day, and his Government, were faced with tremendous difficulties. Nevertheless, they felt that by finding the money for the subsidisation of food, they were assisting the agricultural industry. It is accepted by all that the highest consumer of Irish agricultural produce is the Irish consumer. The Irish consumer is prepared to pay a higher price as compared with consumers in other countries, even despite their higher standard of living; but there is a limit to which the Irish consumer can go, and that is something this Government forget.

When the inter-Party Government returned to office in 1954, having criticised the preceding Government for partially reducing the food subsidies, the first step they took was to contribute towards a reduction in the price of butter, thereby assisting the consumer from the point of view of the cost of living, and the health of the people by making it possible for growing children to be provided with a sufficiency of good food, such as butter. That Government protected the dairying industry against the growing challenge of margarine.

Unfortunately, on the advent of the present Government, a different policy was adopted. The Government proceeded to do what they had said they would not do: they proceeded to abolish the subsidies on food. It was indicated to the people that this abolition was really effecting a saving. The plain fact is that people now have to meet expenditure far in excess of the level of expenditure they had to meet when this Government assumed office. At the same time they have to find the increased cost of maintaining the household.

The Government, as a public employer, and private employers throughout the State, by one means or another —either by additional taxation, a higher levy of rates, an increased cost for the goods and services which the private sector provides—have had to find the money necessary to pay increased salaries and increased wages to organised labour. All that was a consequence of the Government's action in abolishing the food subsidies.

We are entitled to know what was done to ease the situation for those engaged in the primary industry. According to the Central Statistics Office, there has been a reduction of £17.4 millions in the incomes of the agricultural community. Urban dwellers generally are inclined to consider themselves as the only people affected by an increase in the cost of living; they appear to think that everybody engaged in agriculture is in a position to provide all the food he requires. That, of course, is far removed from fact.

The cost of living hits the people in the rural areas just as hard as it hits the people in the urban areas. It hits the people in the lower income group far more heavily than it hits those with higher incomes. People had increases in salaries consequent on the increase in the cost of living. I claim that some of them—I have said this before —were not much affected at all by the increase in the cost of living. They enjoy meat three times a day. An increase in the price of bread and butter does not affect them very much. The people really affected are those who look on bread and butter as part of their diet at every meal.

Despite the contention that the farmers are all well off, can we say, reviewing the position of the agricultural community at the moment, whether anything at all has been done to ease the burden on them of the higher cost of living?

What about the increase in the cost of milk?

I am coming to it. The Deputy would appear to have taken his cue from his senior, his senior for whom he so often acts as acolyte. The Tánaiste would imply this is a wonderful increase. There is no doubt that many people who have to pay the tenpence per lb. increase in the price of butter are under the impression that it is conferring a great benefit on the dairy farmers, and there are as many dairy farmers in Deputy O'Malley's constituency as there are in mine.

Recently we heard a very frank statement by the Taoiseach in this House, a statement which was completely at variance with that of Deputy Loughman last week. It was to the effect that, while other sections of the community had secured higher incomes, the position of the agricultural industry was causing him some concern. Arising from this admission, there was a feeling in the country that the Government were about to do something dynamic to improve the position of people engaged in agriculture, but what has happened? We find a lower consumption of butter than the country has ever experienced. We find it being smuggled back over the Border-surely an extraordinary situation to develop? We find that because of the increase in the price of flour by 3/7 a stone a situation has arisen, as admitted by those engaged in the milling industry, in which there is a sharp fall in the consumption of bread and consequently, a fall in the consumption of wheat.

In those circumstances we were led to believe that the Government were about to produce something that would considerably ease the lot of those people and it was announced that all consumers, be they farmers, industrial workers, or people living on private incomes, would be called upon to pay threepence a lb. more for butter, again widening the gap between the price of butter and that of margarine and, unfortunately, making it imperative for too many homes to displace Irish creamery butter from their tables and substitute margarine. This has arisen out of the Government's direct action; yet we are told that the increase of 1? pence to the dairy farmer is a substantial one.

Perhaps Deputy O'Malley might inquire from the co-operative creameries in County Limerick, as I have done from creameries with which I am familiar, what proportion of this 1? pence has reached the milk suppliers because we do know that, in company with so many other industries, costs have risen in creameries. Staffs have had to get increased wages, and quite a substantial part of the increase of which I speak has been absorbed by the creamery industry itself to help meet the increased cost of running creameries.

Deputy O'Malley will recall that, since this Government resumed office, a new technique has been adopted to relieve the Minister for Finance of the embarrassment of having to find moneys to meet the sale of excess agricultural products—the technique of placing a levy on the industry which has done what this and successive Governments asked it to do, namely, to produce more. We have found that, having produced more, a levy was placed on milk, but in consequence of the Government's failure to maintain increased production this levy was not imposed for a time. Production fell considerably last year and no doubt the bovine tuberculosis eradication scheme contributed to that. There were many other factors as well but, even though the levy of one penny a gallon was removed, this was far less than was promised the dairy farmers in the course of the general election when they were led to believe that they would get an increase of as much as threepence in the price of milk.

Far from getting an increase they found that a levy of one penny a gallon was imposed, reducing the price which obtained at the time this Government came into office. This levy was to be devoted to the subsidisation of surplus butter whereas the Government previously in office found that money from the national Exchequer. Now the industry that worked too hard, produced too much and did its job too well, is to be discouraged from working too hard in future.

During the course of the local elections campaign, I tabled a Question asking the Minister for Agriculture what the Government's intentions were in relation to the levy, whether it was to be imposed this year, and how much it would be, and the Minister adroitly answered, not saying "yes" or "no".

He could not say "yes" or "no".

He learned that in a school that operated in this House for many a long time—the facility of never saying "yes" and never saying "no".

That is not the reason.

Deputy O'Malley says that is not the reason but, even though it was during the middle of the local elections campaign, the Minister did not say he was not going to reimpose the levy. So we can take it that, as well as having the 5/9, more or less, which the Minister states he is to impose on the wheat growers, we could have a reimposition of the penny a gallon, more or less, on dairy farmers, before this year is out. If that is the case then I want to know from the Minister, from Deputy O'Malley and from the Tánaiste—who considers the delegates attending the Fianna Fáil Árd-Fheis are country bumpkins— what is the dramatic something done since the last Budget to improve the lot of the agricultural community?

The argument that I have advanced so far has not taken into account any increases in production costs since this Government came into office. There is a duty imposed upon the Minister for Agriculture in any Government to ensure that nothing is done by the Government which would make it more difficult for farmers to produce agricultural goods. In that respect I wonder what part had the Minister— mind you, he is a former Minister for Local Government and must have been quite familiar with what was occurring—in the Government decision some few months ago to levy £100,000 taxation on vehicles transporting milk to creameries and bringing agricultural goods to markets? That was another difficulty created for farmers and another reduction in their incomes by deliberate action of the Government.

If the Minister for Agriculture has any voice at all, or is allowed to open his mouth, it is surprising that he did not succeed in bringing it to the notice of his colleague, the Minister for Local Government, and his other colleagues, that this was putting another burden on the backs of the primary producers in this country. It may seem a small thing but it is the accumulation of such taxation down through the years that has brought us to the position of finding it so difficult even to hold our own in foreign markets where others are successfully competing with us, and when others have succeeded in pinching some of the markets we heretofore enjoyed.

Instead of assisting the farmers to produce more economically we find greater obstacles are being created and put in their way. That is a most disturbing factor and it has been particularly noticeable over the past year. It is also true that following on the abolition of the food subsidies, despite the difficulties that may arise for agriculturists and any circumstances that may warrant any increase to them in the price of goods they produce, the fact that there is no buffer between the producer and the consumer means that you will have an energetic consumer voice which will be clamant in ensuring that no further burdens are added to that sector considering that the cost of living has already risen so alarmingly.

Still another repercussion of the Government's policy has been to eliminate the buffer which existed, giving that bit of give and take which made it possible for the Government to come to the assistance of the farming community without adding to the trouble of the consumer. Again, that was removed. It means now that no matter what difficulty may arise for the farmer, if anything is done to increase his income there will be an immediate outcry from consumers.

In company with Deputy Moher and, for once, Deputy Corry, I must ask the Minister what sense was there in importing maize and exporting feeding barley? Although both of those Deputies were critical of the Government's action they did not advert to the fact that the mistake was made long before this year. The mistake was made when this Government encouraged the siting of storage at the ports. What had they in mind then? Apparently, they had not fully realised the potentiality of feeding barley and the policy advocated by Deputy Dillon of walking it off the land. They were still living in the era in which you had to import the grain necessary to feed livestock. It was unfortunate that the investment of so much capital in storage sites at ports was encouraged. That would appear to be one of the reasons for this movement in and out. I doubt if it was to facilitate the shipping companies, as Deputy Corry claimed. Certainly, there were interests anxious to see that their money was not poured down the drain since they had been encouraged to site their storage in such locations.

I want to join with other Deputies in referring to the delay in the payment of farm improvement grants. We are led to believe that money is freely available in many Departments of State to give encouragement to this, that and the other thing. But far from there being a loosening, there seems to be a tightening up in the payment of grants to farmers carrying out such laudable work as the improvement of their land and their farmyards.

Many Deputies have spoken of the really great task facing us in the elimination of bovine tuberculosis. There has been considerable concern, particularly in the south of Ireland, at the lack of progress in the elimination of this disease. Despite Deputy Barry's feeling—he may be a voice alone and there was a lot of sense in what he said regarding this whole business of the eradication of bovine tuberculosis —once Britain, our best customer, decided to get rid of it, we had no option but to do likewise. The regrettable thing is that no progress was made in the period 1951 to 1954 towards commencing the scheme. There was gross neglect then and to make up that leeway is one of the most difficult tasks facing the country.

There should be more supervision of the veterinary staff. I do not say that in any sense derogatory of the veterinary profession. In fact, I have heard members of the profession state that the fact they are thrown so much on their own, that there are not sufficient officers to carry out a proper check of the work done, is placing too great a burden on them and they are obliged to have a super-rigidity of conscience. The regional offices also seem to be understaffed. The office in Mallow is most efficient and is in the charge of a really excellent officer. But it would be humanly impossible for that man to cover the immense area for which he is responsible. That is an aspect of the scheme which should be re-examined.

I also heard recently that in the registration of shorthorn herds in the South no question was asked relative to the condition of these cattle vis-a-vis the bovine T.B. eradication scheme, and registration was granted without a question being asked. It was certainly regarded by the herd owners as extraordinary, in view of the losses they had suffered and the efforts they were making to eliminate the disease, to find that there was no proper cooperation within the Department itself.

One other thing which is of concern in the south of Ireland is the indiscriminate erection of cattle marts. It is private enterprise, but just as President Cosgrave had to intervene in the early days of the State to save the creamery industry, the time is approaching when somebody will have to intervene in this matter of the erection of cattle marts and ensure that people will not lose a lot of money. We know the capital involved and the expense incurred in the operation of marts. If they are to be erected indiscriminately, a situation will be created where one will be drawing so much off the other, that their continued existence will be uneconomic. I know of instances where this has occurred already. This is a matter well worth the Minister's consideration.

In relation to the advisory services, I claim we have not yet sufficient staff to meet the demand for them. Some Deputies who spoke on the Government side, Deputy Moher in particular, sought to put across the view that there was duplication of services when Deputy Dillon launched his proposal for parish agents. We know of many Departments of State in which there is duplication of services. Were it not for the action of the Government and the Minister of the day, the committees of agriculture would never have wakened up to the duty of providing these staffs. However, these committees were faced with the important limitation that the rates would have to bear the cost of these officers.

To summarise, I wish to express dissatisfaction at the conditions prevailing in agriculture today. Those engaged in that industry have to work long hours. They have none of the advantages of the limitation of hours of people engaged in industry. Yet they seek no more than those engaged in other walks of life. All they seek is a comparable standard of living on a comparable income. They have been as much affected as anyone else by increases in the cost of living; yet we find from the Government's own returns that they have not secured any compensatory increase in income. In fact, the situation has now developed where they have many millions less income than they had 12 months ago.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.