Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Meat Marketing Board.

15.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if, in view of the findings of a recent study by the Agricultural Institute that the farm price of cattle rose by 20 per cent in a recent two year period while the marketing margin rose by 62½ per cent, he will reconsider his attitude towards the establishment of a meat marketing board.

The purpose of the calculations in the Study was to show the farm-retail price spread for fat heifers and store bullocks in the period 1963-1965. The percentages stated in the Deputy's question do not represent a correct interpretation of the figures in the Study as they appear to be calculated on prices for fat heifers only for two particular months out of those given in the Study and, even for these months, the correct interpretation of the figures shows an increase in the farm-retail price spread not of 62½ per cent but of 20.3 per cent, from 36 per cent at the beginning to 43.3 per cent at the end of a selected two-year period. The relationship of the figures, like the prices themselves, varies from one month to another and, for example, taking the figures for store bullocks only for two other particular months, the farm-retail price spread actually declined by 4.7 per cent between the beginning and end of a selected two-year period.

On the question of a meat marketing board, I have made it clear that it is my intention to establish a livestock and meat export promotional body. I intend to make a detailed announcement on this matter at an early date.

In view of recent happenings when the chips were down, would it not be more appropriate now for the Minister to reconsider the whole position with regard to the Government's attitude towards organised farmers?

That is a separate question.

Would the Government not consider the setting up of a National Agricultural Council representative of the farmers which would see that the farmers get justice and fair play?

That does not arise on the Deputy's question.

It certainly does.

If the Minister is not prepared to answer, he can hang his head now.

Why does the Deputy not put his questions down if he wants them answered?

We can put them down.

You cannot.

We put the questions down when the chips were down last week.