asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries the reasons for investigating the amounts of milk supplied by individual farmers to various creameries throughout the country.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Creamery Milk Supplies.
The purpose of the inquiry referred to by the Deputy is to obtain more up-to-date information than that already available on the numbers of creamery suppliers by reference to the size of their annual milk deliveries. It is intended also to obtain information on the extent to which very large suppliers are industrial concerns or individuals who do not derive their livelihood wholly or mainly from farming.
Could the Minister say at what level it is the intention of the Department to stop subsidising milk production?
The Deputy is now asking about a decision of which I am not aware. The implication is that a decision has been taken to stop subsidising at a certain level. No such decision has been taken by anybody.
It is not true that the substance of the inquiry is the number of suppliers with amounts over 20,000 gallons? That is the concern of the creameries. What is now regarded as an economic unit, not only here but also in Britain, with one man would be producing more than twice that quantity.
I am not quite sure what is disturbing the Deputy or whether this is a reflection of disturbance within his own Party. Am I to take it it is the 400-cow farm prospect that is possibly in danger?
This is typical of the Minister.
If that is bothering the Deputy then I shall try to clarify his mind.
I am asking the Minister what does he regard as an economic and efficient unit in milk production?
The question has nothing to do with that. Is the Deputy's anxiety founded on why we want the information?
We want to find out what, in fact, the pattern of milk suppliers in size and scale is. That is No. 1. Secondly, we want to find out how many people are involved and to what degree our milk is being supplied by people who are not, in fact, farmers in any sense of the word and to what degree public money is being paid to people who produce milk as a sideline.
Is it not a fact that the Minister has already quoted figures on this?
Widely quoted figures.
Figures giving the percentage of people who have got certain amounts.
No, no; 15 per cent of the suppliers are drawing 45 per cent of the subsidy and 85 per cent are drawing 55 per cent of the subsidy. Over £25 million is being paid this year and the Deputy can sort that out and see what 15 per cent of suppliers are getting and what 85 per cent of suppliers are getting.