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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 16 Apr 1969

Vol. 239 No. 10

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Skim Powder Prices.


asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if he proposes to take any steps to implement the Cooke-Sprague recommendation regarding the stabilisation of skim powder prices; and, if not, why.

Implementation of the recommendation mentioned could involve a subsidy on exports of skim milk powder and, as I indicated in reply to a question by the Deputy on 1st May last, any such subsidy would, in effect, represent a double subsidy on about one-fifth of the national output of milk. It would benefit only the skim milk which is used for the manufacture of powder and would confer a special advantage on the sellers of that skim compared with sellers of skim for other purposes and the many farmers who use skim for livestock feeding.

The skim milk powder manufacturers in conjunction with An Bord Bainne have formulated a scheme for the stabilisation of skim milk powder prices over a ten-year period. I would have no objection to such a scheme provided it does not involve any losses for the State.

Can the Minister enlighten the House as to how it can be true that the disease of protein deficiency can be endemic in Africa and the FAO seem to be wholly unable to bridge the gap between the need for powdered skim milk in protein poverty-stricken Africa and the surplus of that commodity which appears to exist now in all European countries?

I have no rational explanation except to say that we are not the only country experiencing difficulty in disposing of a relatively small surplus. Other countries have had a very much larger surplus. Attempts have been made to sell this surplus in all parts of the world and, where such attempts have been successful, the commodity has been sold at a very poor price indeed. Much more would be available if the price were sufficient to induce the production of this commodity. While there may be a need for proteins there is no agency through which to obtain a price which would induce the sending of surplus supplies of skim powder milk to these unfortunate areas.

Would the Minister not agree that the FAO would be much better employed concerning themselves to bridge this gap between surplus and need in regard to this protein product rather than blathering about Malthusian theories in Rome?

That is a point of view.