Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Fertiliser Exports.

9.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will take steps to prevent the export of nitrogenous fertilisers.

Under the provisions of the Treaty of Rome exports to other EEC countries may not be restricted.

The imposition of restrictions on exports to third countries is governed by Community regulations on protective measures to be employed to prevent critical situations from arising on account of the shortage of essential products or to remedy such situations. As matters stand, it does not appear appropriate to take steps to initiate Community procedures in regard to nitrogenous fertilisers.

Is the Minister aware that Nítrigin Éireann are exporting nitrogen to Northern Ireland? In view of the statement he made that we will be short of 40,000 tons of nitrogenous fertilisers this year, will he take some action to protect the farmers and to ensure that they will have sufficient nitrogenous fertilisers for next year?

The expert advice from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is that there will be sufficient nitrogenous fertilisers this year to meet home market requirements. It is possible that that expert advice is wrong, of course. This is something which needs to be monitored. On the best advice available to me now, a short-fall is not anticipated. If there is not a short-fall, I do not see any reason for restricting exports. If they can keep their volume up and generate some exports, provided this does not hurt the home market, good luck to them.

I hope it will not be too late when it is discovered.

If I see evidence that there is a threat I will have the matter re-examined.

Does the Minister anticipate lower consumption of nitrogenous fertilisers this year because of the big increase in the price? Is this the reason why the Minister thinks he has a sufficient quantity?

The projections available to me do not postulate a decline.