: Before moving the adjournment I was suggesting that in order that border regions could avail fully of the funds in the non-quota section and of the regional fund generally a development board should be established to co-ordinate the efforts of the various groups at present handling this matter—there are the regional development organisations, county development teams and local authorities all involved in the formulation of proposals and suggestions. During the month of September Bord Fáilte placed an advertisement in provincial papers seeking suggestions from groups and individuals regarding the development of tourism in border regions. While they are to be commended for seeking such suggestions and endeavouring to get a consensus in that area they should have been doing so about five years ago. Public representatives and the other groups I have mentioned have been deeply involved over the last four or five years and Bord Fáilte should have been active during that period.
Mention was made in the Minister's speech and by the previous speaker of the accession of Greece. Its inclusion in the EEC, bringing the number of member states to ten, should not be in conflict in any way with our membership. Probably it will be an ally as far as the common agricultural policy is concerned. I agree with the previous speaker on the importance of the common agricultural policy. It is generally agreed that to date it has been the most successful of all the common policies of the EEC. Indeed it has come under increasing attack recently. I should like to congratulate the Minister for Agriculture on his successful efforts during the year against the imposition of the milk super levy and also in his opposition to the suspension of intervention beef in the summer months. The suspension of intervention beef during the summer months — coming at a time when many beef producers would not have been prepared for it and were dependent on grass in the early months of the summer to finish their cattle — would have been very serious indeed.
I mentioned earlier Regulation 1820 of 80, approved on 24 June, in regard to agriculture in the western counties under which some £150 million in FEOGA aid will be matched £ for £ by our Government over the next ten years. Certainly it will provide a unique opportunity to set up a proper agricultural structure in the 12 western counties with regard to the development of our resources, processing and marketing. Under this heading it was maintained that there would be some £8 million in FEOGA aid available, with a 50 per cent subsidy from the EEC for calf to beef systems to improve our method of production. This form of interest subsidy on loans of £100 for two years for each calf reared to the fattened state would be available provided that an applicant followed the planned scheme.
Under the heading of marketing and production there is an allocation of £32 million, a special FEOGA project scheme, with again a 50 per cent subsidy, which would increase the grant aid for processing and marketing from 25 to 50 per cent. The various Departments involved should take a very close look at those two proposals to ascertain how best those funds can be utilised because the present method of marketing of our beef products leaves a lot to be desired.
In the October edition of Farm and Food Research there was an article entitled “Do beef prices make sense”. That article outlines very clearly fluctuations in beef prices, showing that in the 12 months since July 1979 prices varied from 76p to 64p, then back up to 76p and back down to 68p, this at a time when the retail price of meat had steadily increased and was 6 per cent higher in both England and Wales. Admittedly during that period also slaughter by-products and hides fell drastically but in no way accounted for this type of price variation. We must face the fact that over one-third of our beef sales takes place in the last quarter of the year. These continuing variations of prices in Britain account for 60 per cent of our meat. Within the EEC an effort will have to be made to increase marketing outlets throughout Europe because, when one realises that one penny in the £ amounts to approximately £5.60 per hundredweight, or £56 for a 10 hundredweight animal, one realises that that type of situation is not desirable.
Those two measures must be carefully examined in an endeavour to implement the calf to beef system which would mean also a steadier flow of animals into the factories. It is important in the meat trade that we have some type of selling agency. Apparently at present when slaughterhouses and factories find it difficult to sell or are beyond their cut on the British market they endeavour to offset that variation by charging steep prices to the producer. This is a very serious situation and one that must be closely examined.
Also included in those measures are rural water supplies with 40 per cent FEOGA aid. I would ask the Minister to have this measure implemented as quickly as possible because there is a large number of group water schemes throughout the country awaiting this aid. We are delighted that the Minister was successful in his efforts in this respect, which was a great achievement.
There is £16 million devoted to the rural electrification scheme. I hope in this case that not alone would this money be spent on improvements to existing supplies to farmers who are putting in larger motors and heavier equipment but that they would also subsidise farmers by way of subvention to first time house builders who at present are faced with high quotations from the ESB. In many rural areas there are small industries where a three-phase supply is essential, where they can no longer operate machines on the single phase and I hope that money will be provided for that. We have also the proposal for £51 million for farm investment with 50 per cent FEOGA aid. This would go by way of capital investment to increase livestock numbers, where grants for development would be paid to farmers. There would also be special exemption for western farmers in regard to the restriction of investment aid on dairying, 40 per cent of grant aid rather than the present 30 per cent.
The final measure which was outlined was £8 million for farm training and for agricultural colleges. In an area where only 25 per cent of farmers avail of the advisory service, farm training centres would be ideal. Not alone should money be spent in that way, but the new agricultural body, ACOT, should consider withdrawing almost completely the advisory service from top bracket farmers, farmers who over the years have accumulated sufficient knowledge, and should consider concentrating instead on the lower income farmers by trying to improve their production methods and management systems.
There is also £18 million in respect of forestry development. It is welcome at a time when so much emphasis is placed on alternative sources of energy. I mentioned earlier that those two — cross-Border regional aid plus the aid for western development — should be looked at as one. This money was to be provided for both State and private planting. Therefore, it would be an opportune time to concentrate on providing aid and assistance to both individuals and groups, either for timber or for short rotation forestry, for this biomass production which is on trial in various areas. It is accepted that we should now be in a position to save about £45 million per year by using the produce of our forests rather than importing timber. Those are the measures which were introduced from 1978 to 1980. In that field there has been a great measure of success and with proper planning of those two schemes, the face of the whole western region — those less developed counties in the west, plus the three Ulster counties — could be transformed by these measures. It would ensure continuation of our rural communities.