Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Milk Price.

71.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if he will now give an indication of the creamery milk price for the coming season; if he is aware of the necessity to give a substantial increase in price; and if he is contemplating any change in the price structure.

I am at present giving close examination to the position generally in regard to creamery milk prices, with special reference to developments in relation to EEC membership, and I will make an announcement in the matter as soon as possible.

What does the Minister mean by "as soon as possible"?

I am acutely aware of the urgency attaching to an early announcement in this regard. I am mindful of the necessity to tell farmers as quickly as possible, so that they may be in a position to plan their farming programmes.

Is it not true that farmers are already engaged in this process of planning their farming activities for the year ahead? Would the Minister agree that it is now, at this stage, far too late to make an announcement? Because of the uneconomic price paid for milk last year a number of farmers have opted for the beef scheme rather than for milk production.

For an assortment of reasons—one of them being the beef incentive scheme—they have done so. I accept the Deputy's point that the sooner an announcement is made the better. I will try to issue a statement as soon as possible.