asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if 16,000 tons of Irish beef is now in intervention in Rotterdam and elsewhere; if beef is being offered to intervention at a rate of 600 tons per week and if this figure is likely to rise to 3,000 tons per week later this year when cattle will have come off grass; if he expects that by having beef sides boned additional storage will be available; and if he will take steps to ensure that all boning for EEC storage depots is carried out in this country in order to give employment in the industry.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Intervention Beef.
The total quantity of beef accepted by the Irish Intervention Agency to date is approximately 15,000 tons of which 11,000 tons is stored in other member states, including Holland. Recent acceptances of beef into intervention in this country have been at a level varying from 800 to 1,000 tons weekly. It is not feasible to predict the quantity that may be offered into intervention each week later this year but the steps recently taken to strengthen the Community Beef Market, including the requirement linking the purchase of intervention beef to imports from third countries, should ease the situation considerably. The deboning of beef now being provided for will enable better use to be made of available storage facilities. Such boning of the Irish beef will be carried out in this country.
Could the Minister indicate the quality of the meat that is being sent into intervention at the present time and whether it is right to say that the Irish meat going into intervention at intervention prices is of the very finest quality and not canning meat at all?
This is not a question of canning. Deboning is not just for canning.
That meat is going to manufacture. It is the finest meat in the world.
And it is not suitable for manufacture at all.
It depends on the leanness of the meat.
T-bone steaks for canning. Catch yourself on.
Has the Minister any idea of the volume of increased employment deboning of meat will give to those engaged in the meat trade? Am I foolish in presuming that it will be substantial?
It will be substantial.
That is what I wanted to hear, because there are meat factories in my constituency.
It will take some time to train the operatives. Incidentally, when this proposal was made last January to the processors they were not interested because all their boning staff were fully engaged in boning for the American trade but later on they expressed an interest and since they did we pushed it as hard as we could and it is now there for them and they are very pleased with it now.
I would like to ask the Minister if he has asked the Commission to improve the ratio of Common Market beef to imported beef from 50/50 to 70/30, 80/20?
I had difficulty in getting 50 accepted—great difficulty— and it was my proposal originally.
It should be 70/30, 80/20.
Is the Minister aware that boning is a special trade and it would take a considerable time for butchers to learn this trade?
Yes. I understand that it takes three months fully to train an operative.