Written Answers. - Lamb Production.

555.

asked the Minister for Agriculture given the Agricultural Institute findings that 15 per cent of farmers surveyed recently see lamb as the preferred area of expansion, as compared to 2 per cent in 1983, if he considers it appropriate to take steps to encourage the production of high quality lamb which will hold its own on the highly competitive export markets.

Sheep producers have been continuously advised of the need to produce lean lamb to meet the requirements of the export market and in recent years there has been a noticeable improvement in the marketing of higher quality lamb particularly in the early part of the year. However, in order to meet the high standards on export markets, further improvement is required in the presentation of lambs, especially in the latter part of the year when lambs have a tendency to be fed to heavier weights. In this connection, my Department is currently engaged in discussions with representatives of producers and exporters on the question of introducing a lamb classification scheme.

EC rules, of course, prohibit the granting of direct national aids for lamb production or exports.