Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Livestock Development Project.

25.

asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline the nature of the £45 million livestock development project for which a loan of £15 million is being sought from the World Bank; when application was made to the bank; and when he expects the project to be in operation.

The proposed livestock development project for which World Bank assistance is being sought is designed to make credit available to farmers to enable them to take better advantage of the opportunities which will be open to them in the EEC to increase livestock production. It is proposed that the project should apply to cattle and pigs and that farmers following a suitable farm programme should be entitled to participate.

Discussions on the possibility of such a project commenced with the bank some time ago and arising out of these discussions the present proposals were submitted late last year. If the normal procedures of the World Bank are followed, the negotiations should be completed by the end of the present year and the scheme should become operative next year.

May I take it that the scheme has been submitted to the World Bank in some detail and, if so, can the Minister tell me what conditions, other than mere participation in a farm development plan, will be applied to applicants for this special credit? Further, could the Minister tell me if the credit will be available to applicants at a subsidised interest rate?

No, I could not tell the Deputy that at the moment. It is true that some details of the scheme have certainly been submitted but, as I have indicated, there will be further discussions with the World Bank during the course of the present year and certain aspects of the scheme may be altered as a result of those discussions.

Could the Minister tell me if he has sought opinions of farm organisations in relation to his submission to the World Bank in order that it may reflect the best brains in agriculture both inside and outside the Department?

I am satisfied that adequate consultation with agricultural interests took place in the formulation of the scheme.

Could the Minister tell me if consultation took place specifically in relation to this submission?

No, I could not say that.

I do not think it did.

Would the Minister say whether I am correct in having not heard the word "sheep" in his reply?

Yes, the Deputy is correct.

Why are sheep omitted?

That is a separate question.