Written Answers. - Milk Processing.

549.

asked the Minister for Agriculture if he agrees with Bord Bainne's aim to reduce over the next ten years the share of milk going into butter production by 20 per cent, as in 1984 about 77 per cent of milk was processed into butter while 55 per cent of the skim resulting from this process was dried into powder; if he further agrees that it will require a considerable investment in terms of product and market development; and if he can give an indication of the steps both he and the European Commission plan to take to encourage investment as well as the requisite cooperation of the part of the dairy cooperatives.

It is, of course, most desirable to reduce our existing heavy dependence upon intervention products such as butter and skimmed milk powder. In this connection, I am glad that Bord Bainne recently decided to proceed with the establishment of a market development fund which is to be funded by producers themselves.

My Department and the State agencies concerned will continue to offer every possible assistance to the dairy industry in its efforts to achieve increased diversification, and I would urge the industry to avail itself fully of the grant aid which is currently available for this purpose from the Industrial Development Authority. I have also been urging the European Commission to reintroduce aid from the Guidance Section of FEOGA for suitable investment in the milk sector.