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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 14 May 1969

Vol. 240 No. 8

Private Notice Question. - Milk Price Allowance.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if he will give a detailed explanation of his decision to withdraw a Milk Price Allowance from May 19th and Quality Allowance from 1st June for all surplus milk in liquid milk supply areas, stating the price reduction per gallon for surplus milk arising from these changes.

Under the changes in milk pricing and support arrangements announced by me on 9th May there will be a net benefit to producers of milk for the liquid trade. A surplus is needed in any liquid milk area to meet day-to-day fluctuations in supply and demand, and it is reasonable that the liquid trade itself should meet part of the cost of disposing of this surplus. In fact, where surplus from the liquid milk trade is made into butter or other export products, Bord Bainne will continue to bear the cost of the direct losses on the exports concerned.

Over the country as a whole the withdrawal of the 7d per gallon Milk Price Allowance and, where appropriate, the 2d per gallon Quality Allowance will be more than offset by the 2d per gallon increase in the minimum price to liquid trade producers.

Could the Minister say how many gallons of milk are involved or is there any record in his Department of the number of gallons involved? Is it not a fact that this applies to every area in which there are registered milk suppliers, whether it be Cork, Dublin, Galway, or anywhere else in the country? Does the Minister know the number of gallons involved?

The number of gallons involved is seven million—that is in so far as the allowance is being discontinued. In so far as the increase is concerned it will apply to 55 million gallons in all parts of the country, including Cork and Dublin: Dublin 31½ million gallons and Cork six million gallons and the residue of almost 20 million gallons is spread over different parts of the country. The 2d increase will apply to 55 million gallons in all parts of the country and the cessation of the bonus allowance will apply to around seven million gallons.

How has the Minister a record of this amount of liquid milk because a supplier does not have to give the Minister, or anybody else, a record of the number of gallons he supplies if he is not going through a milk distributor?

One way we would know very well is where a surplus of milk day by day is coming back into the creameries in respect of which there is a claim for this support allowance. It is from this that we get the actual number of surplus gallons at the moment——

May I ask the Minister——

We cannot have any more discussion. The Deputy has already had three supplementaries.

This represents a reduction of ninepence per gallon on, I would say, ten million gallons of milk in this country. The Minister is pretending he is giving an increase. In fact, it is a deplorable action on the part of the Minister whereby the liquid milk suppliers, to whom he has given damn all over the years——

Could the Minister inform us whether there is any net financial gain?


I am asking the Minister, not Deputy Clinton.

The Minister has given his answer.

Is there any net financial gain to the liquid milk producers as a result of this twopence?

They will give their answer to that in North County Dublin.

Could the Minister explain to me if there is any subsidy for milk for the making of fresh cream and ice cream?

Yes, there is a net gain, as I have already said, and the net gain is approximately one penny per gallon or, to put it another way——

To those with a full quota.

——about £210,000 to £220,000 additional earnings to people in the liquid milk trade during the coming 12 months. In so far as ice cream and the associated fresh cream trade is concerned, up to now there has been a subsidy on the milk going into ice cream and fresh cream. This will no longer be the case. These would be two channels into which this surplus liquid milk may now profitably be put without competition from the creamery milk down the country which would otherwise have to be subsidised. There is no subsidy on fresh milk for ice cream. This is an obvious outlet in Dublin for their surplus at prices which will be remunerative.

I cannot allow any more supplementary questions now.

This is very important. May I put this to the Minister? If a supplier, supplying to Dublin on a small quota, now decides that he will supply all of his milk to a creamery down the country, he will be in the same position as every other creamery supplier. But, if he sends a small amount to Dublin on quota, and the balance down the country, he has to take a reduction of ninepence approximately on the amount he sends down.

He takes an increase of twopence on what he sends up. It does not follow that he takes a reduction of ninepence. Outlets for a surplus in a reasonable way will now be available in Dublin shortly, and in Cork also, in the ice cream trade and the fresh cream trade. Heretofore we had a rather queer situation obtaining that, as a surplus developed each morning in Dublin, it had to be gathered up and taken down the country to a creamery. Having been hauled into Dublin, the surplus then had to be hauled out of it again. At the same time as the surplus was being hauled out of Dublin down the country there was coming into Dublin from some creamery down the country another truck to deliver to the ice cream trade and the fresh cream trade milk supplied as creamery milk that morning.

This is to avoid wasteful and unnecessary spending on freight and on the shifting of milk around. It is for the purpose of rationalising the whole approach to our milk in this city that this is partially designed. As announced on 9th May, 1969, this is a beginning as a step towards putting milk support arrangements——

The Minister is trying to put them out of business.

Obviously, Deputy Clinton has not put down this question for information.

Obviously, Deputy Clinton has put down this question to try to make propaganda. He is not particularly anxious to hear the answers.

I should be very pleased to hear them.

Would the Minister consider meeting the people concerned about this in order to clear the air? There is a certain amount of confusion as regards the application of this particular twopence. Could the Minister meet the people concerned and explain exactly to them what he has in mind——

He would have to meet the people in Cork also.

Will the Minister— if he is going to put people out of business—postpone his decision for six months at least?

I want to ask the Minister this question.

I am sorry——

I want to answer all these supplementary questions.

Will the Minister tell the House if any of this surplus was used for cut-throat competition down the country to put smaller companies out of business?

A Deputy

I am surprised that Deputy Sheridan should adopt that approach.

The Deputy need not be one bit surprised. I was a milk suplier and I am still, to a degree. I know as much about it as anybody else.

I am allowing Deputy Timmins to put the final supplementary question.

What amount of milk is supplied direct to the creameries by the liquid milk producers? Will they lose the sevenpence on that amount of milk? Is the Minister taking that into account in his overall figure? What amount of milk is supplied direct to the creameries by the liquid milk producers at the moment?

If you want to have the advantages of being a liquid milk supplier, then be one. If you want the advantages of being a creamery milk supplier, then you should be that. This idea that the Fine Gael people are trying to get across that every milk supplier should have the benefits of both sources and none of the disadvantages is not "on"—and well they know it.

The Minister knows well about winter milk production, when he is talking about this.

I must accept that Deputy Clinton is talking in good faith but I must also point out that he does not know what he is talking about. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot have all the advantages of both systems and none of the disadvantages. Either you are in one or in the other. In addition, this whole operation is designed to make logical the support arrangements that are there but that have grown somewhat illogical in practice over recent years. As I have already indicated, we have a situation obtaining whereby milk is carted in from 50 or 60 miles to Dublin in the morning and then there is a surplus and this surplus has to be put together again and carted out of Dublin and——

There are a lot of people supplying direct.

——at the same time as——

The Minister has not answered my supplementary question.

Why does the Deputy not sit down and wait for it to be answered? The Deputies do not want to hear the answers.

Will the Minister meet the people concerned?

I have told the House about the milk coming in in the morning to Dublin and then, when a surplus of milk arises there, it is collected and got together in the evening and it is sent back down the country and, on its way down the country, it is meeting trucks coming up to the city with milk from creameries to deliver subsidised milk in Dublin. This is the illogical situation that has been brought about under support arrangements in recent years and which I am taking the first steps to change. In doing so, I am securing against any loss to the producers, who are my prime concern. I am ensuring that their total intake for milk production next year will be approximately one penny per gallon more than it has been up to this moment and that their total intake this year will mean a cheque from £210,000 to £220,000 bigger than they had last year for the same amount.

This is not correct and the Minister knows it.

Deputy Clinton cannot talk his way out of this. He will drown himself in the surplus beforehand. There is no getting away from this because these are the facts. This is the way it will work out. So far as meeting the people is concerned I have a request from the board and I intend to meet them. I have a request from the NFA and I am meeting them and already arranged to do so——

That is a change.

——tomorrow morning.


Deputy Clinton should bear this in mind: my meeting either or both of these requests has nothing to do with his question because I had arranged to meet the NFA before he even thought of putting down his question.


Will the Deputy please resume his seat?