asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if his attention has been drawn to Foras Talúntais reports (details supplied) to the effect that a holding of 18 good acres of land or 99 acres of poor quality land can give the minimum farm income under EEC regulations; if he has studied the formula involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Farm Incomes.
The report to which the Deputy refers is a study of land potential for grazing in Ireland in the course of which an estimate is made of the minimum area required to generate incomes comparable to those received outside agriculture under a dairy cow farming system. The conclusions are based on the technical capacity of the land only and account is not taken of capital availability or servicing or of managerial or social factors obtaining at farm level. The report confirms my view that a high proportion of small farms in Ireland, if managed efficiently, have the potential for achieving viable incomes.
Is the Minister absolutely satisfied, beyond all shadow of doubt, that a reasonable standard of living can be obtained from a holding of as little as 18 acres of good land? Is he serious when he states that this is possible from a holding of this size?
This is not my investigation. It is the investigation of the Agricultural Institute and they say that it is possible to have 20 good cows on 18 acres of exceptionally good land——
Does the Minister accept that?
——and 20 good cows, with a family income from each cow of £90, would reach the comparable figure.
Can the Minister tell us then how a farmer gets a reasonable income from the 99 acres of poor land which is referred to?
It says that that is the extra amount of land required when the land is poor.
Will the Minister take it from me that in my opinion that survey shows a high degree of lunacy?
Surely the Minister is aware that 18 acres is not sufficient for a farmer to become a development farmer?
You helped to get the farmers into all this. Now you are blaming somebody else. You led the way.
He would need 45 acres.
This is the result of a scientific investigation by the Agricultural Institute and I am certainly not qualified to say it is wrong.
Tell them to hide the survey some place where nobody can see it.
Is the Minister aware——
I have already called Deputy Power.
How does the Minister reconcile the statement he has now made that 18 acres might be sufficient with the statements of previous Ministers, and I think the present Minister for Lands, who said that a 45-acre holding is necessary to keep a family? Somebody must be wrong. Would he reinvestigate those figures and see who is right?
I repeat again that these are not my figures.
Does the Minister accept them? Did the Minister say today that he accepted them?
I say that I am in no position not to accept them. This is a research institute.
May I ask one final supplementary?
Question No. 11. Deputy Cunningham, please allow the Chair to make some progress.