Control of Bulls for Breeding Bill, 1985: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The main purpose of this Bill is to give legal effect to the decision taken by the then Government in October 1982 to discontinue the licensing of bulls. The Bill will also provide legislative powers to prohibit the use of non pure-bred bulls for breeding purposes.

The Live Stock Breeding Act was enacted in 1925 and was designed to control the quality of bulls used for breeding in Ireland. Under the Act inspections of bulls were carried out mainly by temporary inspectors selected for their knowledge of cattle. They were, in the main, pedigree breeders who were paid on the basis of fees for inspections. Some 7,000 bulls were inspected annually at more than 400 approved centres. Between 85 and 90 per cent of the bulls presented for inspection were passed by the inspectors.

In the 60 years since 1925 there have been many developments in livestock breeding — changes in animal husbandry, specialisation of production and the introduction of new breeds in cattle. This was reflected in the type of bull in respect of which licences or permits were granted over the years. In all cases the bull had to pass a visual inspection before being licensed. Practically all the applicants were for pure-bred bulls entered or eligible for entry in the herd book of their breed. In general, non pure-bred bulls were not licensed for breeding. However, where and whenever conditions so war-ranted, exceptions to this general practice were made. For example, non-pedigree Shorthorn bulls of exceptional merit were eligible for licensing throughout the country. In the Kerry cattle area non-pedigree Kerry bulls were also eligible for licensing.

Following the first importation of Charolais and Simmental bulls in the early seventies there was widespread concern that the supply of such bulls from the herd-book sector would not meet the demand. Accordingly, as an interim measure, it was decided to inspect for licence initially half or higher cross continental bred bulls. As the numbers of continental pure-bred bulls increased, however, the percentage of continental blood required in the cross-bred for licensing was progressively increased to three-quarters and seven-eights.

Under the old licensing arrangements there were two rounds of inspections annually in spring and autumn followed by two rounds of appeal inspections. Additionally an annual search, more commonly known as "the comb", for unlicensed bulls was carried out. As bull inspections had to be completed by specific dates and as large numbers of bulls were inspected at over 400 approved centres, bull licensing was quite expensive for the Department to administer. The inspection system at current prices cost about £160,000 annually whereas receipts by way of licence fees amounted to only £4,000. This left the nett cost of this service to the Exchequer at around £156,000 annually.

The previous Government decided in October 1982 to discontinue the existing system of bull licensing. The present Government endorsed this decision and announced that licences would not be required for the keeping of bulls in 1983.

EC Council Directive 77/504 on pure-bred breeding animals provided for the harmonisation of breeding quality standards and for such related matters as the recognition of breeders' organisations and associations, establishment and recognition of herd books, standards governing entry of animals into the herd book, and soon. In essence, this EC legislation is stipulating that the quality of animals entering the herd book should be of a good standard and that such quality control should be exercised by the breed society concerned. However, the directive does not cover the use of non pure-bred bulls.

Following the announcement of the decision to discontinue bull licensing the practical consequence was that there was no restriction on the use of bulls for breeding purposes. This gave rise to considerable concern by sections of the cattle and beef industry about the likely adverse effects on the quality of the national cattle herd and on the export trade in cattle, beef and beef products. It was contended that the absence of controls on the use of non pure-bred bulls for breeding purposes would result in the more widespread use of genetically inferior animals, with a consequential deterioration in the standard and conformation of the progeny. Indeed in an adjournment debate in the Seanad this was brought home very strongly by the Members of the Upper House. Additionally, it was claimed that the discontinuation of licensing could dilute the effectiveness of measures taken to improve the national herd through the Department's various livestock improvement schemes.

In the light of those views I requested the Cattle Advisory Committee, which is broadly representative of farming organisations and of the cattle industry, to examine the matter. This committee was established in 1972 to keep all aspects of cattle breeding under review and to make recommendations as necessary to the Minister. The Cattle Advisory Committee advised that the interests of the industry as a whole would best be served by the official authorisation for breeding of only pure-bred bulls registered in the herd book of their breed and they urged that appropriate steps be taken to implement that recommendation.

Agriculture accounts for roughly a quarter of our total exports. The cattle sector accounts for about 85 per cent of agricultural exports and about 19 per cent of total exports. Because of the importance of cattle to the national economy it is essential in the national interest to ensure that the quality of output from the national cattle breeding herd is capable of satisfying the demands of the market — largely an export one — and at the same time capable of giving a good financial return to the producer. The national cattle breeding herd provides the raw material for both the dairy and beef industries. An important element in the quality of production from the cattle sector is the genetic merit of the breeding stock. That is why over the years we have been spending a lot of money on genetics. Cattle breeding is best approached on a whole population basis and it is necessary to ensure that an effective national breeding programme operates. In most countries the state takes a leading role either directly or indirectly in the operation of national cattle breeding programmes.

As 80 per cent of our beef output and 65 per cent of our milk output are exported it is very important that we remain competitive internationally. To do this we must continually improve the quality of our stock and at least match the progress being made by our competitors. It has been clearly demonstrated that improvement and changes to meet needs in our livestock can be brought about by evaluation and measurement of the merit of individual animals and by selecting the best of these to be the parents of the next generation. By repeating this process of identification and selection of superior animals for use in the breeding herd we bring about gradual and steady cumulative improvement, generation after generation.

The necessary recording, evaluation and selection to bring about this genetic improvement is generally done in the pedigree herd book sector. It is important that such genetic improvement be disseminated to the whole cattle breeding population, thus ensuring the continuing improvement of the national cattle herd. This dissemination is done most efficiently by commercial producers continually using bulls from the improved herd book sector either as natural service sires or through the artificial insemination service. Bulls in AI usually undergo an additional phase of selection based on performance of their progeny — progeny testing — thus ensuring the much higher merit and value of bulls in AI.

A further reason for concentrating on herd book registered bulls is the desirabliity of being able to identify the genetic makeup of an animal at the various stages of production. This country has many different markets for its cattle and cattle products — diverse markets each with its own requirements. We have currently in the national cattle herd many different breeds each having its own characteristics and suitability to fulfil the requirements of our different markets. Many of the requirements for these markets are best met by crossbreeding our cattle. It is most desirable that the breed make up of our cattle be predictable from visual assessment — this is usually done by colour pattern combined with other minor indicators. Use of pure-bred bulls allows such identification with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Use of cross bred bulls, on the other hand, gives much undesirable variation in many traits of importance including colour which makes evaluation of genetic makeup and suitability for particular markets much more difficult.

Some representations have been made to the effect that the proposed controls will adversely affect the income of many farmers, especially in the disadvantaged areas This topic has been given substantial media coverage on TV, radio and the national and provincial press. It has been contended that a large percentage of farmers with small suckler herds and dairy herds simply cannot afford, or justify, the purchase, upkeep and insurance of a pedigree bull because of the size of their herds. This view has been strongly expressed by some individuals and I accept fully that it is sincerely held. However, I believe that the overall interests of the country, the farming sector and the individual farmers earning their living by producing cattle on comparatively small margins of profit will best be served by the use of breeding of only the best bulls.

By and large, the best bulls to use are those from the herdbook registered sector. I accept that exceptional individual non-registered bulls might in some cases be better breeding animals than the poorest herd book bulls. I accept that use of the AI service may be a little more difficult in certain parts of the country and in certain farming situations. However, it is significant that overall 126,000 farmers availed of the AI service in 1983. I do not wish to impose controls just for the sake of so doing. However, I am advised that without controls, significant numbers of farmers are using and will continue to use inferior type "scrub" bulls and that continuation of official State control on the quality of bulls used for breeding is still very necessary. Imposition of such controls, in practice, must apply broadly and cannot cater for the situation on every individual farm.

The Bill before the House provides that a person must have a permit issued under the Act if he has an unregistered bull. The circumstances in which permits will be issued will be laid down in regulations made under this Act. As a general rule, it is envisaged that permits will be issued to cover only bulls kept for research, bull beef production and similar enterprises. For registered bulls (that is, those entered in official herd books) the breed society will issue a certificate for each bull entered in the herd book. These permits or certificates must be produced on demand to inspectors of the Department of Agriculture or members of the Garda Síochána when they are checking on the status of bulls under the Act. The inspectors and gardaí will have powers to enter land and to examine bulls found on that land.

If a person is believed to have an unregistered bull, or a bull without a valid permit he will be allowed 28 days to apply for a permit for the bull, or else to have the bull castrated or slaughtered. He can make representations against a direction to have the bull castrated or slaughtered. Should he ignore the direction to have the bull castrated or slaughtered, the Minister will be empowered to have this done at the owner's own expense. The Bill sets out the maximum penalties that can be imposed for various offences under the Act. Finally, the Live Stock Breeding Act of 1925 is repealed by this Bill.

I commend this Bill to the House.

(Limerick West): This Bill sets about raising the standard of our national cattle herd and, of course, that is desirable. As the Minister rightly pointed out, it repeals the Live Stock Breeding Act of 1925, which has served the interests of the cattle breeding industry for 60 years.

The concept of the Bill before us I accept in principle. Nevertheless, it has totally and completely neglected the problems of the small farmers in the remote and disadvantaged areas, who have not the capacity to acquire registered pedigree bulls. I very well understand their problems and sympathise very much with them. It is necessary at this stage that the Minister find some way of helping this sector of the farming community. Keeping in mind the importance of upgrading the standard of our breeding herds and also the important role which this section of our farming community play in the development of our cattle industry, the Minister must come up with some positive alternative now to help this section. They are the backbone of our economy and are the most important sector of the farming community. This help can be given by making available some financial assistance towards access to the services of pedigree sires or, alternatively, by allowing the farmers to keep, for a limited upgrading period, non-pedigree bulls, subject, of course, to their being passed as suitable by his Department. I am making this suggestion to the Minister, bearing in mind the problems existing in these areas.

The restoration of the beef breeding herd to its former level, to something in the nature of 700,000, is of extreme importance. This required increase in numbers can only come from the western areas which certainly need encouragement to bring this about. I doubt if this legislation will do that. There will have to be incentives to the farming community in those areas to add to their cattle stocks on a sound farming plan. This should be the target, while improving beef quality at the same time. Ideally, the maximum possible number of beef cows should be bred from a continental type bull. In passing, the Minister could bring in some scheme to promote commercial exploitation of embryo transfers and twinning, especially in beef cows. I understand that this technology is now established and readily available.

If our beef herd numbers increased fairly rapidly — and this is a very effective way of doing that — then the problems which I have outlined and of which the Minister is aware, would be solved. There would be no further need for special treatment.

The Minister referred to the availability of the AI service. In certain areas there is a very serious difficulty, because AI is not the solution. The Minister knows this very well. It does not constitute a solution because of the isolation of the area, the non-availability of the service, delay in the provision of service and, most important of all, the nature of the terrain in this area. There are in the region of 43,000 beef herds in disadvantaged areas, in which herds the average cow number is in the region of seven. Surely it is not practicable or proper for the Minister to impose the provisions of this Bill on those farmers without there also being some flexibility. I leave it to the Minister to introduce amendments on Committee Stage or, when replying, to offer alternative, positive suggestions.

In the course of my comments I shall advance alternative suggestions which hopefully will be accepted by the Minister. We shall also be putting down amendments to ensure that the people to whom I refer — who constitute the backbone of our farming community — will not be left at a disadvantage because of the implications of the provisions of this Bill.

Perhaps the Minister and his Department would investigate the possibility of the introduction of a scheme for the location of bulls on special terms, under which scheme pedigree bulls — I should say this is nothing new but has been operated by the Department for many years — are placed at the beginning of each year in congested districts and disadvantage areas at reduced prices payable by instalment. The custodians of such bulls are required to maintain them in healthy, breeding condition for four breeding seasons and must be available to serve cows and heifers in the neighbourhood. As the Minister is aware, this scheme was highly successful in the areas to which I refer and was operated also by the ACOT committees, or the old county committees of agriculture, under which premiums were allocated more or less on the same terms and for the same purpose. This should be examined. As this Bill progresses through the House I hope to make alternative suggestions for implementation by the Minister.

Perhaps the Minister would also arrange for research into the regulations operating in other countries with regard to bull licensing. For instance, in France, as far as my information goes, no such regulations obtain as are now being introduced here. I am sure the Minister and the House will agree with me that none of the French breeds of bulls could be faulted on quality. In New Zealand I understand that the position is much more flexible than is proposed under the provisions of this Bill. In this vein I would suggest that the provisions of this Bill should enable the Minister to introduce regulations as the need arises, in other words, that there be much more flexibility than obtains at present, and we hope to introduce amendments to allow for such flexibility.

It is important that our beef cattle numbers be increased while raising the standard of the stock. One must pose a question as to the availability of sufficient pedigree bulls to meet the demand. In this context — and the Minister referred to this in the course of his remarks — the use of AI could be considered but I question whether it constitutes an acceptable alternative. In many areas I would suggest it is utterly impractical. For instance, in suckler herds heat detection can often be almost impossible with the nearest AI station being sited some distance away and many farmers in disadvantaged areas are not on the telephone. Another point worthy of mention is that many suckler herds are kept off the farm or grazed on the mountainside. I should point out to the Minister that many farmers in disadvantaged areas must supplement their incomes with off-farm work, in which case AI may not constitute a practical solution.

I might commend the submission made by the Sneem Development Co-operative with regard to the provisions of this Bill, details of which no doubt the Minister has in his possession. I compliment them on their research and study into the development of our beef cattle industry and the raising of the standard of our breeding stock. I note with regret that the Minister has refused to meet this group, to debate in public the merits or demerits of their suggestions. Surely the Minister has an obligation to meet all groups who are prepared to carry out research into the aims and ideals of the upgrading of the standard of our beef cattle herd?

For the record I should like to briefly outline some of the points the group made in the course of their submission to the Minister. They maintained that the proposed Bill will confine farmers to the use of pure bred bulls registered in the herd book of their breed. They contend that monopoly would have serious implications for the huge number of farmers with less than 20 cows because their incomes would not enable them to purchase and maintain a pedigree bull. They continue to contend that it will force smaller farmers to rely totally on AI, resulting in a huge reduction in calves, especially in suckler herds, with obvious implications for marts, co-operatives and the beef industry generally.

Another point they make it that is will create a monopoly for pure-bred bulls and a very substantial gain for breeders of such animals, resulting in a huge percentage of milk-orientated bulls for producing quality beef. Inevitably, because of the scarcity and prohibitive cost of quality, pure-bred bulls of a continental-type, they continue to say that the provisions of this Bill will place the AI service in jeopardy because the purchase of the cheapest possible pedigree bull will result in a huge reduction in demand for the service, and they offer alternative suggestions. They stated that a clause should be inserted in the proposed Bill permitting farmers in the disadvantaged areas to use both pedigree and quality non-pedigree bulls. This would guarantee the production of the maximum number of quality beef calves and benefit farmers, marts, co-ops and the beef industry generally. The Minister said quality non-pedigree bulls could produce stock of a better quality than pedigree bulls. We must look at this very carefully in the context of this legislation.

They also said it would safeguard the AI service, as cows that prove difficult to get in calf on AI, could have the back-up service of a realistically priced or farm bred quality non-pedigree bull. They made further realistic points which the Minister must look at. I hope the Minister will have these proposals examined very carefully. While he may not be able to accept all of them, on Committee Stage he could introduce amendments to meet the just demands of this group and many other farmers in the disadvantaged areas.

Bearing in mind the importance of upgrading our breeds, we can also cater for the people to whom I have referred. I have made some alternative suggestions. We must keep in mind at all times the importance of the control of the quality of our breeding stock to ensure that our beef export market is not affected by a low quality carcase. Therefore, our cattle breeding standards must be upheld at all times. This can be done if the Minister accepts the proposals for the provision of suitable premiums or the introduction of suitable subsidies to enable the farmers in question to purchase top quality bulls. I have outlined the scheme of premiums which existed in the past and also the availability of bulls on special terms.

Another suggestion is the inclusion of a double subsidy under the headage grant scheme where bulls are kept by small farmers in the disadvantaged areas. There could be a special payment per year for a period of three years. I should like the Minister to consider the provision of some other type of financial inducement in the short terms so that these farmers would have access to proven pedigree sires. All we need is to get over the transition period. I appeal to the Minister to give us some indication of how these requests can be met, and they can be met provided he has the will and the backing of his Minister and the Government. This will need a financial injection and also help and assistance for these people. Initially it requires to be done over a period of two or three years only.

This would get over the difficulties I have outlined and it would ensure that we would have top quality breeding stock available not only to the larger farmers but also to the less well off farmers in the disadvantaged areas. I am putting up positive alternatives. If the Minister and the Department are prepared to grasp the nettle and give this financial assistance and aid to these people, we can overcome the difficulties. They can be overcome provided the Minister has the will to do so. We must ensure that our beef breeds are of the highest quality and that the small farmers in the disadvantaged areas are not forced to use the wrong type of bull. We want to avoid that. I regret that the Minister referred to scrub bulls. We should forget that word. We should talk about non-pedigree bulls.

A rose by any other name.

(Limerick West): That word has serious implications for our breeding stock and its upgrading. That word should be removed——

It should be scrubbed.

(Limerick West): Farmers in the disadvantaged areas are severely handicapped and the Minister knows that as well as I do. The whole population in these areas are directly or indirectly dependent on the income they derive from the land. The average size farm is very small and only a small proportion of the land is good. The average herd has less than ten suckler cows. For 90 per cent of the farmers the land is used mainly to support suckler herds most of which are relatively small. Practically 100 per cent of the calves from the suckler herds are destined for the beef trade and mostly to be sold as weanling stores in the autumn.

These farmers make a very substantial and important contribution to the Irish economy in terms of exports of beef and lamb. We must look to these areas in the future for an increase in our beef cow numbers. The Minister's Department have recognised this because they increased the headage grants in the disadvantaged areas. I supported that. If the Minister goes a little further and gives the necessary incentives and financial injection, he will ensure that all our herds will use top quality pedigree and non-pedigree sires.

I hope the Minister will give this matter his utmost consideration and that he will come back to the House with a solution which will maintain the standards of our breeding herds and will not put farmers in the disadvantaged areas at a greater disadvantage so far as their breeding stock is concerned. I ask the Minister to look at these proposals very carefully and to come back to the House with positive and progressive alternatives. If he does that he will have the full support of this side of the House for this legislation.

Normally when legislation like this comes before the House Deputies give it a guarded welcome. Farmers living in disadvantaged areas are a bit cynical about the whole purpose of this legislation. It would seem from the consternation it has created in the disadvantaged areas from Donegal to west Cork that the legislation has been drafted for the benefit of the pedigree bull breeders, an elite group, and that the interests of farmers in the disadvantaged areas were not considered. In other words, the Bill will be administered at the expense of the minority. The pedigree breeders are a strong pressure group well known to the Minister and his officials. They meet him and the officials frequently at the presentation of awards in the RDS. The small farmers in disadvantaged areas in the south-west, the west and the north-west, cannot avail of such audiences with the departmental officials.

It is well known that this legislation is based on the recommendations of a body known as the Cattle Advisory Committee in whose composition there is not one farmer from the disadvantaged areas.

(Limerick West): Hear, hear.

The main thrust of the Minister's argument is that he has been informed by that famous committee that this legislation is necessary — that he is introducing it on their recommendations. I ask the Minister to look seriously at these provisions when the Bill is in Committee. I realise that we will have to consider rules and regulations governed by EC directives but let us not forget that the EC recognise the disadvantaged area farmers in Ireland. That is why we have headage and other subsidy payments.

The Minister said that the legislation is designed to cater for the overall good. He should have added that the Bill is designed to penalise the majority of farmers who use their own non-pedigree bulls and who will be forced to get rid of those bulls. In 1983 the Government put an end to the licensing of bulls but they should have known that the penalties provided for are outrageous as far as farmers who use non-pedigree bulls are concerned. A small farmer may be fined £600 and lose his headage payments which could amount to another £600. It is a penal law to crush people in disadvantaged areas.

In those areas, 80 per cent of farmers breed so that they can have suckler calves for sale in the autumn. In Sneem in south Kerry most of the smallholdings are uneconomic and 37 per cent of the people, according to a recent well conducted survey, must depend on off-farm incomes in order to survive. Now they will have to bear these crushing penalties.

The Minister, being a progressive farmer, must be aware that farmers living in the disadvantaged areas have very small incomes from small herds. Such farmers in future, perhaps, will be forced to use the wrong types of bulls, pedigree animals, beyond the financial reach of a farm carrying only five or six cows. In present circumstances farmers living, say, on sides of mountains, may be 25 miles from an AI station and might not be able to avail of the service when they most need it.

I urge the Minister to consider these matters carefully on Committee Stage. He knows that the quality of non-pedigree bulls has improved substantially in the last two years and he appreciates that if a farmer has not a good suckler for sale in the autumn, that if the calf does not appear well, the price will drop dramatically. It is like a greyhound — by looking at him you can tell his class.

I suggest that officers of the Department of Agriculture want to squeeze small farmers out of existence. Many of them live facing the Atlantic and their incomes are so low that they have only potatoes and salt for their dinners two days a week. Therefore I ask the Minister to look closely at the advantages of retaining non-pedigree bulls. It must be realised that non-pedigree bulls can produce first class progeny, that cross-breeding can produce excellent animals. Any of the cross-breeders who come to the south will tell you that.

This legislation will be rough on the people I have been talking about. In Sneem they did an excellent survey and study of this legislation and they suggested the insertion in the Bill of a clause that would permit farmers in the disadvantaged areas to use either pedigree or non-pedigree bulls. On that basis they suggested an amendment, which has been endorsed by the ICMSA, Macra na Feirme, ACOT and the county committees of agriculture. I suggest there is nothing wrong with that amendment and that the Minister should consider it.

Deputy Noonan has said many of the things I had intended to say and there is no point in repeating what he said. However, I must point out to the Minister that his statement that these people must carry the can for the rest of the country is not good enough. In the interest of fair play and justice the submissions made by many people on the Bill should be noted and acted upon.

Deputy Noonan, our spokesman on Agriculture, and Deputy Begley have highlighted the matters that concern me in the Bill. We agree that in principle it is necessary to improve the quality of our cattle. That is a desirable objective and one that should be kept in mind at all times and the proposals I intend putting forward will not mean any disimprovement in the quality of our cattle. I am surprised that the Minister in preparing the Bill accepted advice entirely from the Cattle Advisory Committee because that committee does not have a member from a disadvantaged area. One could conclude that the Bill will create a monopoly for pure-bred bulls and is designed to benefit a tiny but very powerful pressure group of breeders of such animals. In my view it will be damaging and discriminatory against the vast majority of the 111,000 farmers who have fewer than 20 cows.

There is no provision for exemptions in the case of smallholders who live in remote areas. I should be obliged if the Minister will tell the House the number of pure-bred pedigree bulls, the number of cows and the number of heifers likely to go to dairy this year. It is my view that there are not sufficient pure-bred bulls to service all the cattle. I am anxious that the Minister should make provision to permit the use of non-pedigree pure-bred bulls in the severely handicapped areas within disadvantaged areas. I am concerned about areas such as Sneem, Kenmare and south-west and west Kerry. The majority of farmers in those areas have fewer than 20 cows. In fact, many have fewer than ten cows. In some severely handicapped areas the average is seven cows. A farmer with seven cows in a remote rural area could not maintain and insure a pure-bred pedigree bull. The AI service is an excellent one and is operated by dedicated officials. It is a pity that the AI subsidy scheme was withdrawn because it has made the service very expensive for farmers, especially those who live in remote areas.

Farmers who rear their own breeding heifers have a problem. Those animals are generally kept separate from the main herd and a farmer will find it difficult to know whether the heifers are going to dairy or not unless there is a bull running with them. That important point should be taken into consideration by the Minister. It is for that reason I suggest that the Minister permit farmers to have quality non-pedigree bulls. Those bulls should be passed by inspectors from the Department or ACOT officials, who are well trained.

The Minister of State in the course of his statement said:

Practically all the applicants were for pure-bred bulls entered or eligible for entry in the herd book of their breed. In general, non-pure-bred bulls were not licensed for breeding... For example, non-pedigree Shorthorn bulls of exceptional merit were eligible for licensing throughout the country. In the Kerry cattle area non-pedigree Kerry bulls were also eligible for licensing.

Will, the Minister elaborate on that statement?

I am convinced that the provisions of the Bill will lead to the creation of a monopoly for the Pure-bred Pedigree Breeders Association. Small farmers in severely handicapped areas cannot afford to buy a pure-bred pedigree bull. I am familiar with the position of the farmers in the Sneem area, mentioned by Deputy Begley. I met representatives of the organisation involved and I was surprised to hear that the Minister did not meet them to discuss the matter. The group have an unanswerable case which has been well researched. The Minister should take cognisance of the case made by the Sneem Development Association on behalf of smallholders in the area. The Minister's proposals, if fully implemented, will undermine, if not destroy, the AI service. Is there a difficulty between the Cattle Advisory Committee and the AI service?

I am convinced that the proposals support big farmers and those adjacent to the AI service but are not in the best interest of small farmers. If the Minister does not accommodate smallholders in the west and south-west we will table amendments to the Bill. Some areas should be exempt. Annual subsidies should be paid to farmers in severely handicapped areas who are anxious to buy a pure-bred pedigree bull. A farmer with between 17 and 20 cattle cannot afford to purchase such an animal. Many areas are remote from marts. Some areas in south Kerry are up to 70 miles from a mart.

The Minister should seriously consider the provisions of this Bill. He should bring in amendments and exempt the areas I have already mentioned. If he does not do this, this legislation will prove disastrous. I can visualise inspectors calling on small farmers who, if they are found to have non-pedigree bulls, will lose the headage grants, will be taken to court and so on. We may even have to come back within 12 months to amend this Bill to exempt these areas. Now is the time to give these concessions and to make the necessary amendments. This Bill should be put through the House in a way that will benefit all sections of the farming community.

I cannot agree entirely with the proposed legislation. I welcome the Minister's concern to ensure that our exports are of a higher quality and that whatever inconvenience may be caused to farmers and breeders in the short term will be compensated for by the better quality livestock they will export.

It is a reflection on the farming community if, in spite of all the efforts of our advisory services and agricultural colleges, we are still in a situation where we have to introduce the policeman into farm management and to introduce legislation to force farmers to do something which is in their best interest, if it is in their interest. I would like to comment on the end of the Minister's speech.

I suggest that the Garda should be left out of this legislation because they have enough to do. Their role in presentday society should not be to look after dog licenses, bull licences and so on. They must specialise in dealing with the problems of society at different levels and we should not distract them from giving the maximum attention to the most important matters. We should not involve them in farm management. I do not believe the Garda would go around looking for breaches of this law because if they did it would not be a good thing. The Garda need to cultivate the best relationship possible with people in remote rural areas and if they were to get involved in this legislation, it would take up a great deal of their valuable time and damage the interests of the force.

There are plenty of ways under the existing livestock schemes to police this scheme if and when it becomes law. In spite of financial and administrative difficulties, never before were the Department in more constant contact with the agricultural community, particularly in the west where we have the headage grant scheme, the calf premium scheme and so on. The inspectors visit most farms. The Minister did not mention the penalties a farmer will incur for a breach of this legislation. I understand most livestock legislation and regulations contain a clause that farmers in breach of any Act will lose benefit under the various livestock schemes, premiums and payments. This means that if a farmer is brought to court and fined, the chances are that in the short term he will lose the benefit of the other livestock schemes.

The suckling herds are scattered in remote areas. Mostly they are small herds and the owners have a very small income. The bigger herds are run in a more business like way and the farmers will know what is in their own interest and they will have the resources to pursue the most modern management techniques. They will buy quality animals for breeding, but the problem arises with the small breeders. AI should be the ideal solution for small suckling herds but it is impossible to detect heat in suckling cows and therefore AI is not the solution. The only solution is to have a bull with the herd and this is where the problem arises. The first thing we should have done was to examine the market to see if there are enough pedigree bulls to service all the herds. I do not believe there are a sufficient number, but when this legislation comes into operation we will reduce the farmer's choice between, maybe, a second rate cross-bred Charolais and a fifth rate pedigree Hereford animal. I do not want to discriminate between the breeds because they all have their purpose. Under this legislation the farmer will be forced to buy a pedigree animal. This means that he will have to look into the different beef breeds and sometimes he may chose an inferior animal of a breed he does not want because it may not be the most useful, and in the short term this is more likely to happen.

Under this legislation the Garda will be involved in farm management and this will most affect the small farmers, but the Garda will not be involved with pedigree breeders. The breeders at the top of the scale have conducted their business very successfully but at the other end of the scale we found the little pedigree bull at the marts or shows in the spring attracting a price because he drank the milk of two cows over the previous year. It has always been very hard for the inspectors to distinguish between these animals and they got their licence at the end of the day, but if one saw them on the side of a mountain the following October, I guarantee nobody would consider giving them a licence. It is easier to judge on their merits non-pedigree animals produced in commercial conditions. I am very concerned about the possibility that inferior stock will get licences because they are well presented, well groomed and well fed.

I understand some Opposition Deputies, including Deputy Noonan, said a grant should be give to farmers to buy pedigree animals. If a farmer has to pay a very high price for a pedigree animal to breed with seven cows, it is hard to know if the economics are justified, and when we add a Government grant to that, it makes it a little more difficult. But then we must ask ourselves to whom does the Government grant go. The old idea is that money can resolve any problem but in this case money is not always the solution. The chances are that you will just increase the price of bulls by that amount and, if they are scarce, the breeder, not the farmer, will reap the benefit. The breeders have mounted a lobby condemning all the indiscriminate breeding which has been carried out. I do not blame them for this as many of them have given dedicated service, although they are no more dedicated to the trade than the small farmer, but they have a right to make profits. However, there will be indiscriminate breeding until there are enough pedigree bulls to go around. If this legislation came into effect in the morning, many small farmers would not be able to acquire bulls because the price would be prohibitive.

We have been using livestock schemes for the past number of years and the argument is that we should provide grants to encourage farmers to participate in them. Next year the Government plan to raise the suckling premium which will be about £65 or £75 more. That will bring the total assistance for a suckling cow up to about £100. This scheme could be considered for the purpose of improving the breed of livestock as we have been doing in relation to sheep. The question of management or standards did not come into it. I am not suggesting that we should be very tough but these schemes should be used to nudge small farmers who are recipients of those aids in the right direction over a period of time. Of course this would create problems for public representatives because when somebody is refused a grant on the grounds that his stock is badly managed they will complain to us. However, it would be in everyone's interests to do this. It is reasonable for the Government to give assistance subject to conditions and that would be better than trying to enforce the law by sending in a garda. The Minister should have discussions with his colleagues to see whether these schemes can be used to improve the quality of livestock and the performance and management of farmers.

If the Civil Service make a mistake or something goes wrong they are pilloried. However, we do not give them the freedom to use their discretion and common sense. I do not think that anybody has produced evidence to show that the quality of livestock has disimproved. From my own observations, I believe it has steadily improved. While we can use the aids we give to improve the quality of livestock we are getting past the stage where we should use the Garda to impose standards of management in the agricultural industry. The beef producer who does not impose the required disciplines on himself will not survive for very long. The European Community is more than self-sufficient in this product and, in the future, it will need subsidies to sell it. In spite of what we hear about markets in the Middle East and other places, our beef can only be sold outside this country with the aid of European subsidies. Within the Community, we will either have a severe reduction in prices or an imposition of quotas or other measures to save farmers from a total collapse of prices. There is no future for the farmer who does not produce beef which can compete in Europe and international markets. I ask the Minister not to seek to solve the problem by paying a direct subsidy because that will go to the breeder. He should also ensure that the Department must have precise knowledge of the number of animals available and the herds likely to require such bulls. If it is not possible to amend the legislation in this regard, it should be phased in over a period of time taking the likely markets into consideration.

While I do not give an unreserved welcome to the Bill, I am glad the Minister is trying to improve management at farm level and the products which we are trying to sell. It is in all our interests that the Minister succeeds in his objectives and I hope the final legislation will make it a little bit easier for the people whom I represent, those with under developed small farms.

I agree with the thinking behind the Bill but the debate so far has demonstrated the conflict between the regions. It also demonstrates how little has been done since we joined the EC. There is a deep conflict between the 12 western counties and the remainder of the country.

I agree with the last speaker when he said there was a great improvement in the upbreeding of our stock and there should be more emphasis on this in future, not just in breeding but also in management, because we are faced with a serious situation in so far as beef in the EC in the future is concerned. One has only to read the recent CBF review of 1984 to see how dependent we are on EC countries exporting outside the Community. We have a problem regarding competitiveness and it is a pity that there is so much emphasis in the Bill on milk versus beef. In future they will have to be far more closely related. This is one of the reasons why I am so concerned that there is not greater emphasis placed on milk production in the west. Farmers would have been in a position to avail of the milk quotas and would not be solely dependent on store cattle. That kind of farming is more appropriate to an area with fragmented holdings.

Deputy Noonan mentioned aids that could be given to people living in isolated western areas such as a built-in subsidy under the severely handicapped areas scheme.

Mention has already been made of the importance of beef production for the west. A figure of 43,000 has been given for beef herds. Beef cow numbers dropped from 541,000 in the 1975-79 period to approximately 440,000 in 1983. This is very serious. We must recognise that we will face serious problems if some kind of assistance is not given. I visited a factory recently and one of the Department's inspectors was grading beef there. He identified the different carcases by putting a tag on them. All the beef was purchased on a level basis, no matter whether it was Charolais or Friesian. It all commanded the same price. I hope the time will come when we will pay for quality and not have an overall price paid by the factory. Farmers are not being paid for better quality animals.

Mention was made of AI. This has been a great breakthrough as far as cattle breeding is concerned. However there has been some dissatisfaction with the system. If AI fails cows are brought to the bull. Great work has been done by farmers in the high acreage class as far as the importation of milk and beef type bulls are concerned. We must recognise that. They import the animals and have improved the breeding stock considerably. Mention has been made of future requirements as regards twinning and upbreeding. This is an area where I hope something will be done to ensure that the future of herd owners in the west is safeguarded while at the same time improving the overall performance of the breeding stock.

The super-levy introduced an element of despair in farming. People should look to the future. We will probably have a quota system for some time but hopefully confidence will be restored to farmers, particularly in the area of cattle production. That is the only area to which people in the west can look for development. I hope the review of the measures for the west will be proceeded with as quickly as possible. When these measures were announced in 1979 many of us felt it was a glorious opportunity to build a sound base for farming. One of the most notable schemes introduced was the cow to beef scheme. This should have been a good scheme but it fell on its face. Schemes are introduced to improve the lot of the people in a particular area. However, the qualifying limits which are set down debar the majority of people from applying for them. Unless these limits are changed the schemes will not do any good. The same thing applies to suckling grants. Unless the limits are changed they will not be of any benefit. These schemes should be examined on an ongoing basis. If subsidies are paid directly to producers in all probability the price of bulls will be increased. Aid is available for production and manufacturing under FEOGA funds. Some system should be devised to make funds available for areas where hardship will be imposed if they have to work within the constraints of this Bill.

We should go further in bringing in new controls with regard to improvements in our cattle breeding. We have placed much emphasis on our export markets. We are debating this Bill at a time when there is practically no factory quoting prices for beef after all the hullabaloo that was made about deals in the past few months. I will deal with that matter later.

The elimination of non-licensed bulls will have serious effects in certain areas. After the Minister I am the first person to speak whose area is not included in the disadvantaged areas scheme. I can foresee a problem, namely, that many small suckler cow herd producers will not be able to afford a licensed pedigree bull. A person with, say, 25 animals will have no choice other than to use the AI system. My information is that working on a percentage basis on suckler cow herds the AI system has a success rate of only about 70 per cent at best. One of the reasons is that the animals are not seen when in heat and a loss of 30 per cent be suffered in using that method.

In the early seventies I had half-bred continental animals and the Department inspector inspected them when I applied for a licence. These half-bred continental animals should be considered when one takes into account the cost of buying a fully licensed pedigree bull. Getting away from the overall concept of a licence system, if we used that method we could produce the animals required for the continental markets. I do not see any reason why small producers should not be allowed to produce half-bred continental animals. From my experience it worked well in the past and the Minister should reconsider it. I never believed that the system of licensing bulls could be used throughout the country. One Government abolished that system and another one endorsed it in 1982. It was a retrograde step in so far as our cattle industry was concerned.

I do not think we will do justice to small producers if we do not amend the proposals that have been put forward. My suggestion regarding half-bred continental animals should be considered. The average income of a small farmer is less than £5,000 per annum and yet he will be asked to buy a pedigree bull that may cost £1,000. Alternatively he will have to use the AI system and have a 30 per cent failure rate. Up to two years ago there was a large swing away from using continental and Hereford inseminations in the AI stations but that may have changed in the past year. The reason was that people in this line of farming were using their own animals. It is my view that we can amend the proposed legislation to allow for using the half-bred continental animal as we did in the past.

We are talking about legislation to improve our animal stock to ensure that we have top-class beasts to export to European and other markets. In the past few days I have had a number of calls to the effect that our exporting factories who deal with Middle East countries are not quoting for our beef animals. I have to question the validity of the Opposition taking credit for the proposed deal that we knew was made before they went to Libya some months ago. Now farmers are in severe difficulties because they are not being asked to quote for animals they wish to sell. The Opposition have tried to take credit for something at the expense of the farmers. This is the second time false impressions were given about increased prices in the past nine or ten months and it was done by the same people who made the same trip at great cost to the farmers. On the basis of my information there are about 2,000 beef farmers in my country who are unable to sell animals at this time of the year when there should be swift trade.

These people were given a false impression regarding the prices available and the deals that were made. The farmer paid increased prices over two months last spring and thus lost money under the summer system of grazing. Now the winter man is buying stores and losing money. Two weeks ago cattle could not be bought at 118p a pound and last week there were no quotations. Here we are today in this House talking about improved quality for the future of those markets. I must ask where are the proposed markets about which a large number of Opposition Members came in here and tried to boast. Unfortunately, it comes back to the man in the street or the farmer down the country paying for that now.

We are talking about the future and about the type of animal we would like to see available for these markets. I hope, this being one of the days when we will have many more important things to talk about regarding the future of the country, being budget day, that we will remember the damage done on two occasions within ten months by trying to inflict on the Irish people proposals and deals which will mean that the farmers on the second occasion will be losing large amounts of money.

I welcome the figures that the Minister gave of the number of farmers who are using the AI service. It is an excellent service which has improved enormously the quality of our breeding stocks throughout the country. Recently I visited the district milk board's breeding station in my constituency where excellent work has been done but I cannot for the life of me believe, with that system and the added expense of only pedigree bulls being allowed, that we will have the results from the suckler cow herds that we require. We are all aware of the emphasis placed on getting out of milk production because of the super-levy and people in Europe are asking farmers to transfer or change their line of business into other areas. One very important area is the suckler cow area, and in so far as the disadvantaged areas are concerned I welcome the calf grant which was announced as coming in early this year. If we are in earnest about the concept of increasing suckler cow herds that grant should be available throughout the country and then we would see large increases in the transfer from dairying to perhaps suckler beef. If we were in earnest about it as a Government or as a country we would increase the business in and the income from that area. We are all aware that the income from there is very small compared with dairying. If we are prepared to do that there will be a great deal of substance in bringing in and permitting only licensed and pedigree bulls for that section of farming.

I have talked to many people about the proposed legislation and as a result I feel there is only one way out for the poorer farmer with the small herd, that the half-bred continental type animal be allowed to be licensed, provided he passes the criteria of the Department. I am sure that Department officials who have been working on that since the early seventies are aware that some of these animals can be excellent and of top quality, depending on the type of animal that the half-bred animal is bred from. I am sure the Minister will take what I have said into consideration.

I welcome the proposed Bill, but with the cost and the emphasis we must place on the future of the cattle trade and what we require in so far as our European and third country buyers are concerned, we must improve the standard of our animals. Over the years that has improved enormously, and if we make the kind of amendment that I have mentioned to the Bill we will not do any severe harm to the cattle breeding industry. We will give the small producer an opportunity to provide for his herd at a very low cost, animals that would be quite acceptable and would produce top quality beef cattle.

This Bill is welcome for the reason. I stated earlier, that there should be no question of allowing any animal to be used throughout the country without taking into consideration whether the animal is of top quality. I hope that in the aftermath of what has happened to our cattle trade in the last ten months, the false allegations of proposals and counter-proposals of increase in prices and trade and markets being available for our animals, those farmers who unfortunately have lost thousands upon thousands of pounds even in the last three to four weeks at least will be able to sell their beef animals at this time of the year when the cost of winter feed is greatest. Certain people in this House have much to answer for in that connection.

I hope that the Minister will take into consideration what I have mentioned here this morning. I know that he cannot do anything about the other aspect of the increased prices in the cattle trade that I have mentioned, but it is no harm to put on record here that a large number of farmers in this country in the last 12 months have lost a great deal of money over allegations of proposed deals that never took place.

This Bill will have an adverse effect on this country for the next couple of years due to the fact that less milk will be produced in that time and also fewer beef cattle will be produced. For a number of years people in the pure-bred bull breeding business have been putting pressure on the Minister for Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture to allow none other than pure-bred bulls to be used. Now when this Bill has come before us the Minister and the Department have acceded to their request. I have nothing against the people in the pure-bred bull business. Last year the price of pure-bred bulls ranged from £1,500 to £3,000. This legislation will mean that there will not be sufficient pure-bred bull to meet the requirements because 75 per cent of the bulls used in the past 30 to 40 years have been non-pedigree animals. The shortage in the numbers will mean considerable increases in the price of bulls and this will make it prohibitive for many small farmers, especially dairy farmers, to purchase pure-bred bulls.

Last year I spoke with a farmer who travelled from my country to Limerick to purchase a pure-bred bull. He was anxious to acquire a pure-bred Hereford, but the cost of those animals was so high that he had to settle for a lesser quality bull which, though a pure-bred, did not suit the farmer because calves that would be born to cows serviced by that bull would be so big as to cause problems at the time of calving.

I come from a great dairying country, a country in which about 90 million gallons of milk are produced each year. While there are suckler herds in the country, the activity is mainly in dairying. With such a high output of milk, it is obvious that the producers are very conscious of this Bill. I wonder if the Minister of State has ascertained from the managers of marts the number of non-pedigree bulls sold at the marts each year. I undertook such a task during the weekend and I found that between 70 and 80 per cent of the bulls sold, bulls that would weigh between 12 and 14 cwt. and which are very suitable for factories, were non-pedigree.

The AI service is used fairly extensively in my country. There are some fairly big milk producers in the country but also some very small producers. While a number of dairy farmers in my constituency can keep up to 50 cows there are others who keep only ten or 12. It is very difficult to succeed in putting all the cows in a herd in calf by means of the AI service. Consequently, a number of farmers in my area keep non-pedigree bulls but bulls that are of good quality. These farmers have their very good dairy cows serviced by way of AI and use the non-pedigree bull for the remainder, leaving the bull to run with the heifers. Anyone who knows anything about farming knows that if there are a number of heifers together and if they are not running with the cows, it is difficult to know when they are in heat. Since many farmers would not be in a position to purchase pedigree bulls, many heifers that are not running with the cows will not be put in calf because to ensure their being put in calf it is necessary to have a bull running with them.

Down through the years farmers have been using non-pedigree bulls but the quality of the calves produced as a result of using those bulls was as good as, if not better than, the calves produced by using pedigree bulls. Because of the high preponderance of dairy farming in my county, we supply calves to a number of other counties. Up to 75 per cent of the calves produced each year are sold. As a farmer I have occasion frequently to visit the marts but I have never had any reason to complain about the quality of the calves or of the cattle generally in Kerry.

I noticed that the Irish Farmers Journal are opposing the Bill. In last week's issue there is a reference to the legislation being unnecessary and to it doing untold damage to the suckler herds where non-pedigree bulls have been used up to now. During the years when there were inspections of non-pedigree bulls, the number of inspections, according to the Minister's figure, was about 7,000 each year and 90 per cent of those inspected passed the test. The cost of that scheme to the Exchequer was £156,000. Even at this late stage we should reintroduce that scheme instead of relying solely on pedigree bulls because a few years will elapse before we can build up an adequate herd.

The Minister should have given at least 12 months notice of this legislation so that those involved in breeding pedigree animals could have taken steps to increase production.

I submit that the figures in 12 months time will show a drop in milk production as a result of cows not being put in calf because of farmers having to use the AI service and not having non-pedigree bulls to fall back on. At this point they do not know whether the milk levy is on or off. Perhaps the Minister would welcome a reduction in milk production on the basis that it would save him some embarrassment in regard to the mistake he made in dealing with the levy.

Many of the farmers in my area have said that they would prefer to breed their cows to a non-pedigree bull. If the breeding is too fine one gets a beast which might not be suitable to our climate. In a couple of years we may have to go back to the non-pedigree bulls. The Minister in his speech mentioned scrub bulls, but they have been gone for the past 20 years. The non-pedigree bull is a good animal and most farmers are educated enough to keep a good non-pedigree bull so as to get a good calf for sale. If this Bill is passed the price of pedigree bulls will be so prohibitive that many small farmers will not be able to afford them. The Minister should introduce a subsidy, perhaps for farmers with under 30 cows so that they can purchase pedigree bulls. In recent times farmers had small farms assistance but that has been virtually discontinued. They also enjoyed an AI subsidy but that also has been discontinued. Now we are introducing this Bill which will be a further burden on them as they will not have the money to purchase pure-bred bulls.

Deputy Farrelly talked about the sale of cattle. The prices of cattle were never better. We should appreciate the fact that Deputy Haughey went to Libya with a delegation and did a great deal for us in getting back our order for cattle, beef and poultry. As a result of that the price of cattle went from £80 to £100 a head here. Deputy Farrelly said that the sale of cattle in his county last week was not good. There was not a depression in the sale of cattle in my county. There are always peaks and valleys in the sale of cattle for one reason or another but we should appreciate the fact that we can now export our cattle to Libya. The present Government did not succeed in getting that order from Libya——

Your leader did not succeed in meeting Colonel Gadaffi.

Our leader got that order.

The Evening Herald got it wrong, so.

If the Deputy asks the small farmers in his constituency in West Cork, they will tell him who got the deal.


Deputy Sheehan will have his opportunity shortly.

If this Bill is passed we will have less milk and less cattle in about 12 months time. The Minister should introduce a subsidy for small farmers to purchase bulls or he should reintroduce the inspection for non-pedigree bulls in the disadvantaged areas where farmers who cannot use the AI services need to have bulls. If this Bill is passed it should be interesting to see what happens in the next two years.

On the morning before the presentation of the budget we have heard sufficient comment about bulls so I will not detain the House long with what I have to say.

Everybody agrees that to the Exchequer, for the financial well being of the country and to the farming community the livestock industry is most important. Every effort should be made to ensure that quality animals are produced. I could never understand why the previous administration decided to discontinue the licensing of bulls in 1982. It had been part of the farming structure since 1925 when the Act was introduced and it helped to increase the quality of animals and the quality of breeding considerably in that time.

Submissions have been made to every Deputy from the Sneem Development Co-operative Society Limited. They are seriously concerned about the effect of this legislation and every Deputy from the Kerry area has seemed to echo their sentiments. I do not entirely agree with what has been said by them and the Bill will not have the effect that they envisage. I agree with the Minister in reintroducing measures to ensure that quality bulls are registered. I may disagree with the Minister slightly on some points but the Minister has been advised by officials of his Department in relation to the quality of animals and how the livestock industry, particularly the beef sector, is developing.

Quite sizeable fines are imposed under this Bill for keeping an unregistered bull. The farmer will have to apply to the Department to find out the conditions for registering. The breeding societies are the important people with regard to the supply of quality animals to the market. They will have their animals submitted for registration into their herdbooks at the age of nine months and subsequently. A lot of concern and dismay have been mentioned in relation to the non-availability or scarcity of such quality animals, but that will sort itself out. The market place will determine whether it is profitable to become breeders of such quality animals.

Deputy McCartin expressed serious reservations about the involvement of the Garda Síochána in becoming inspectors. This is not necessary. Yesterday we debated the Animals Bill into which the Garda Síochána were drawn and now in this Bill the Garda Síochána are again being asked to play a very vital role. They have sufficient work of their own. If we are serious about this legislation in the interests of the economy there are sufficient personnel within the Department of Agriculture to be used in the local veterinary offices to ensure that the law is carried out to the full. It would be wrong to ask the Garda to become involved in this and I would agree totally with Deputy McCartin in that regard.

The £600 fine for keeping an unregistered bull is severe and farmers will think twice about doing so. There is a £250 fine for failure to produce a certificate and £1,000 for altering a permit. These are quite substantial fines which will have the necessary effect. The legislation has advantages. Of that there is no doubt. The objective is to ensure a supply of quality beef. This is an important element in our economy.

Deputy McEllistrim gloated that his party's leader, Deputy Haughey, was able to go to Libya and bring home what appeared to have been a lost beef deal. I do not think that Fianna Fáil members honestly believe that and the great majority of people throughout the country do not believe it. The Deputy may have made a contribution towards it and we congratulate him for that. We welcome any contribution from any member of the Opposition which will ensure sale for any product, beef or otherwise.

Surely Deputy Haughey could not refuse the IFA's invitation to go?

Deputy Haughey wanted to go.

I do not think that the IFA would agree totally with what the Deputy has said. It is important that we keep any beef deal, be it with Libya, Egypt or any other country.

Would the Deputies stay in Dublin and leave Libya out of it?

Perhaps Deputy Haughey might consider stopping off in Canada? I understand that he is about to visit the United States and he might stop off at Montreal, Ottawa, or some place, and perhaps he might get a deal there as well. He has the magic wand in that regard. We would be delighted, because it would mean £30 million or £40 million into the farmers' pockets in the long term.

It looks as if he will have trouble ahead of him.

The only reasons for countries trading with one another is because of advantages. If Libya wants meat from Ireland and needs it badly then if given the right price it will buy the meat. The Departments of Agriculture and of Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism are quite alert to that. Their role must not be played down by the politicians. There are many inherent dangers in doing that.

Reference was also made to the milk levy and it was mentioned that the Minister for Agriculture had made a mistake in this regard. I could not let that statement go without comment. The Minister for Agriculture did not make any mistake. Unfortunately, there was a difference of opinion about a certain tonnage of milk, but I am confident that that difficulty will be sorted out in time also. It is what has actually been produced in 1983 which is important. All the farmers and people in non-farming areas, are assured of the commitment of the Minister for Agriculture to getting the best deal for the country and are aware of his efforts in securing what was way and above that anticipated at the time. Both sides of the House were complementary in that regard and we should leave it at that. There should not have been references to mistakes made.

With regard to the advantages in this Bill, improvement of quality is admirable. The IFA animal committee would be fully supportive of that. Other organisations, perhaps the ICMSA, have a wider umbrella over a smaller area and would have doubts about the desirability of this legislation. People often have found difficulty in recognising the desirability of certain legislation, but something which is in the national interest, and this surely is, must be a matter for congratulating the Minister for taking this vital step. I have been told by people going to marts that the quality of calves is dropping. I do not know the reason for this. I am not sure if the concept of pure pedigree quality is to some extent the reason. I have seen pedigree breeds drop in quality. I have been associated, right through my youth, with the breeding of Aberdeen Angus cattle. That breed was very much in demand in the forties and fifties, but there does not appear to be the same demand for it today. It has been said by experts that that breed was allowed to degenerate to such an extent that it eventually became unacceptable.

This legislation would lead to the greater use of artificial insemination, which has most certainly improved the quality of animals over the years. The Government have always been committed to ensuring the availability of artificial insemination for all parts of the country. In the areas where there are small cow numbers it has been claimed that this legislation will reduce them still further. These fears are to some extent unfounded. The Opposition spokesman did not reflect the fears expressed in the submissions of the Sneem co-operative and he was wise, because he understands the industry. He knows what is involved in having proper quality bulls for the production of beef.

Not to permit some continental breeds of bull might be a mistake and amendments have been suggested to the Minister in that regard. He has been asked to investigate further the possibility of licensing good quality non-pedigree continental bulls for beef purposes. Good crosses of certain types of breeds have ensured a good supply of beef cattle. There is the very legitimate claim that not all farmers, particularly in the suckler cow herd area, will be in a position to own a bull themselves unless the price dramatically drops because of an increase in the number of people producing such quality bulls. Through the agency of ACOT perhaps the Minister would consider providing premiums or other incentives to ensure such possibility of ownership. Cow and calf numbers could drop in disadvantaged areas unless there is introduced what has been referred to as the straw bull element. I know of no farmer who will allow in a straw bull just for the sake of having one on his farm. Most of these people are experienced and recognise what is a good cross breed. Indeed, this element exists in every industry, whether it is horse racing, dog racing and so on, when one can come up with the occasional good cross breed animal which can be extremely successful. Nobody can say for certain whether cross breeds are less effective in certain circumstances than the pure bred. If we confine ourselves absolutely to the pure bred area then we shall tend to reduce the quality and size of animal produced. The Minister might investigate some of the very important continental breeds such as Simmental, Charolais, and others, whose progeny I have seen and are of excellent quality.

I hope the Minister will bear in mind the many sincere contributions and suggestions made on behalf of people genuinely interested in the development of the industry along lines welcomed by the Department of Agriculture.

I welcome this Bill as constituting a contribution to the upgrading of our cattle herd generally, both beef and dairy herds. As I see it there is only one contentious section, section 3, which insists on the use of pure bred pedigree bulls only. However, under subsection (1) it may be possible to allow people in disadvantaged areas — and to whom all Deputies have made reference — to be issued with permits. I am thinking of people in remote, severely disadvantaged areas and those on islands off our coast who have not had the availability of the AI service or the necessary resources with which to purchase pedigree pure bred bulls. I join with other contributors from both sides of the House in requesting the Minister to examine the possibility of introducing some amendment on Committee Stage to give some amelioration to those people. I realise this will be difficult because one either has pure bred or one has not. It is somewhat like trying to be almost a virgin, a virtually impossible status to achieve.

It should be borne in mind that the beef industry is a £1,000 million industry of which approximately 75 to 80 per cent of its product is exported. Therefore, we need top quality. In recent times the status of this industry has not been that good with the collapse of certain meat plants, in particular, and difficulties encountered with contracts in Libya and, more recently, in Canada. The Libyan situation has been sorted out and I would hope that the Canadian one can likewise be. I hope that the recent cessation of the derogation vis-á-vis the status of the Irish cattle industry in regard to our “white country” status regarding the foot and mouth disease regulations did not have any deleterious effect on the Canadian situation because we had there a £40 million export market which was terminated rather abruptly.

Regarding the dairy herd the position has not been too good despite the availability of the AI service to those herds over the past 30 years. The yield of the Irish dairy cow is only approximately half that of the better dairy producer in the Netherlands and, in particular, in Denmark. If we want to improve that situation I suggest that our AI centres and cattle breeding stations become more through in their selection of sires. This programme, having been in operation for 30 years with a yield still in the region of 700 gallons per cow, demonstrates that there is something radically wrong. There is no reason whatsoever why that yield could not be raised to at least 1,200 gallons. There has been reference to the pedigree breeder — an exclusive, elite club, 99 per cent of whom have yields in the higher bracket — setting a headline for the rest of the industry.

In addition to having a relatively low volume factor, the constituent content of milk is also relatively low. It is somewhat a disgrace that Ireland can still achieve only 85 per cent of the EC target price of milk. We should be able to achieve much closer to the 100 per cent, as they do in the Netherlands, where it is 104 per cent to 106 per cent of the target price. The reason for our figures is the poor quality breeding. I would hope that the provisions of this Bill would contribute to such improvement. I hope milk purchasers, in particular some of the larger co-operatives, would move away from the recent development of paying for milk on volume only. Rather it will have to be paid for on a constituent basis because it must be remembered that it is converted into milk products and volume is of no great value unless the solids and constituents are of a high order.

Following the introduction of a super-levy quota for the dairy herd, farmers will have to seek alternative enterprises, which for many will mean getting into beef. In the past decade the beef herd has been reduced by approximately 50 per cent. If there is to be a reduction in the dairy herd following the introduction of the super levy — because 80 to 85 per cent of calves for the beef herd come from the dairy herd — there could be a tremendous scarcity of cattle.

It will be important that the provisions of this Bill focus attention on increasing the beef herd, not only in quantity but in quality also. I would hope that, for example, the suckler cow premium, which unfortunately will not be introduced for another year, will contribute thereto because there has been a considerable reduction in the numbers of beef cattle. Of course there have been a number of other constraints like the seasonality of supply. Roughly twice as many cattle go for slaughter at the back end of the year which puts pressure on factories. At this time of the year there are close downs and under-utilisation. That will have to be rectified if we want to have a steamlined, efficient and effective industry.

We have the same thing in milk production where we have a 16:1 ratio in the summer versus winter production. For any kind of efficient and effective industry we need continuous production all the year round. Last year we had a massive increase in the amount of processed meat for export and in particular vacuum packs. Many more of our slaughtering firms should increase their capacity for the additional processing of meat and meat products. One need only take a stroll down this town or any other town to find that we import a considerable amount of meat products. With the ending of the derogation on foot and mouth regulations, unfortunately, there will be an increase in the importation of meat products just as there is in the importation of dairy products.

With regard to the collapse of factories in recent times, and in particular the collapse of Clover a number of months ago I suggested that the industry might look at a scheme to introduce protective bonding for the industry to ensure that farmers who sell their entire year's production to a factory will not find themselves pauperised because a firm suddenly collapses and leaves them high and dry without a penny. Members of local authorities know that very successful bonding schemes were introduced to protect house owners from builders who left an estate unfinished. The same thing happened in the case of the travel business.

The Deputy is moving away from the Bill.

We might hear too much about bonds before the day is out.

I am talking about the status and the morale of the dairy and beef industries. I am suggesting that perhaps a bonding scheme could be introduced to protect beef producers and farmers. That would be in the long term interests of the industry. I am giving two examples: one in the are of the local authorities and one in the area of the travel business. A Bill was put through this House to protect people.

Last year we had in excess of one million cattle slaughtered in our factories. The bulk of those cattle would be worth in the order of £800, £900 or £1,000. If we had a protective £1 bond that would make up a fund of £1 million per annum. The total loss to the farmers in the case of Clover was £1 million. It would be easy enough over a number of years to build up a sizeable fund. This would be in the long term interests of the producers, the cattle breeders and the beef industry generally. I ask the Minister to look into that matter.

I welcome the Bill. I hope that, in the contentious area of suckler farmers in the disadvantaged areas and the severely handicapped isolated remote areas where they have not got access to the AI service, the Minister will consider introducing an amendment on Committee Stage to reduce the impact of that problem. If that is done the Bill will be a fairly major contribution to the enhancement and improvement of the industry. I will make a further contribution on Committee Stage.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle I was not here for the order of Business. Is there a time limit on this debate or will it go on later?

There is a sos at 1.30 p.m. The debate will go on.

I welcome this Bill if it will improve the standard of our cattle breeding. The main purpose of the Bill is to give legal effect to the decision taken by the previous Government in October 1982 to discontinue the licensing of bulls. We are told the Bill will also provide legislative power to prohibit the use of non-pure-bred bulls for breeding purposes. I am not happy about the phrase non-pure-bred bulls. Before going into that in detail, it is important that we should know the very important role we play. Irish farmers produce the highest quality of beef for our home and export markets. We must keep up that tradition. Only the best will survive in a strong, competitive export market. The Irish housewife is now a very discerning customer. Only prime quality beef will meet her demands and only the best quality cuts will be purchased by her.

That is the trouble.

Rightly so. In 1984 the value of our livestock meat trade and by products amounted to £890 million in exports, an estimated 19 per cent of our total national exports. Total beef exports were estimated at 251,000 tonnes, an increase of 4 per cent over the 1983 figure. The United Kingdom remains our biggest customer accounting for 98,000 tonnes of those beef exports, with approximately 95,000 tonnes going to third countries and 50,000 tonnes to other EC countries. Bearing those figures in mind, it is vital that we produce the best quality product possible to ensure a continuity of our export trade. Total shipment of live cattle in 1984 was estimated at 396,000 head, valued at £235 million, which includes export refunds, MCAs, and so on. This was 9 per cent lower than the figure in 1983 and 175,000 cattle were shipped to third world countries in 1984 compared with 234,000 in 1983. These figures are very interesting. While many worthwhile proposals are included in this Bill, the Minister should give serious consideration to inserting a clause in the Bill providing that farmers in disadvantaged areas can use both pedigree and what I call quality half bred bulls of recognised beef breeds. This would be an immense advantage to the thousands of small farmers in the disadvantaged areas from Mizen Head in Cork to Malin Head in Donegal.

It is a pity we have not got the other bit.

We got 26 and you failed to get the other six.

The Deputy should stay with the Bill.

We made a good effort 60 years ago which they failed to follow up.

I am on the Deputy's side. I do not know who "we" and "they" are. I thought we were all one.

Those small breeders must be recognised because they are the backbone of the cattle industry. The big rancher can change overnight from beef to milk or to sheep, but the small farmer on the western seaboard has one major problem, survival. Although he may be insignificant in the eyes of some people, he is a very important part of the Irish economy.

Therefore, it is important that farmers who are breeding to the best of their ability on small parcels of land along the western seaboard should be given incentives to stay in beef production. Otherwise they will starve. The last Fianna Fáil Government discontinued the bull licensing scheme. Where was the clamour to do that and why was it done? In 1982 a Fianna Fáil Minister scrapped the scheme.

Read the bottom of page 2 of the Minister's speech.

I will do so later. The Deputy's Party scrapped the bull scheme for the first time.

The Government could have rescinded that.

It was a Fianna Fáil Minister for Agriculture who scrapped it. It is most important that Irish farmers produce the highest quality beef for home and export markets. I would not be in favour of giving carte blanche to Irish farmers to use non-pedigree bulls of any breed because it could give rise to widespread use of scrub bulls which would be to the detriment of the beef industry. No sane Minister could condone a policy whereby scrub bulls of inferior breeds would be allowed to roam at large in carnival mood through our beef cattle herds in disadvantaged areas. Scrub bulls are a menace to our cattle industry and this must be regulated. Fianna Fáil were very tame when they scrapped the scheme that would improve the standard of our cattle. Of course they took the easy way out.

There is room for a registered half-bred bull of high quality beef breeds to be kept by farmers in disadvantaged areas. After all, the AI stations throughout the country can supply that type of animal. It is well known that when small farmers go to recognised pedigree bull sales they find themselves competing against very strong opposition and will be outbid for valuable bulls. It is very important, therefore, that such farmers would be compensated in some way. That is why I ask the Minister for Agriculture to insert a clause in the Bill which would allow the introduction of the half-bred bull for the benefit of farmers who financially are not able to pay exhorbitant prices for bulls.

After the enactment of the Livestock Breeding Act in 1925, 7,000 bulls were inspected annually at more than 400 centres. I am amazed that Fianna Fáil abolished that scheme. It is well known that cross-breeding of beef animals in the past 30 to 40 years proved very successful in our beef cattle trade. It is well known that the cross between a Hereford bull and a Friesian cow produces a very good calf. I advise Deputies opposite to visit the marts in their constituencies. They will see that when a black Hereford bull appears in the ring he will make at least £10 per kilo more than any other animal of his size and weight. This should be borne in mind by the Minister when considering the Bill in Committee.

I dislike the move to create a monopoly in any section to exploit our farmers. I refer specifically to the pure-bred associations around the country who could be given a monopoly. Then the price of pure bred bulls could be increased beyond the reach of ordinary farmers.

Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.