Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Bill, 1939—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be read a Second Time. The principal reason for the introduction of this Bill is to give the Minister power to suspend the provisions known as the maize meal mixture. There were at least three or four Acts passed by the Oireachtas since 1933, dealing with cereals. When the original Act was passed in 1933, provision was made for the mixing of home-grown grain with maize in order to absorb a certain amount of barley and oats on hands at the time. Before that Act came into operation there had been an arrangement with the millers under which barley and oats were mixed with maize. The necessity for that was that many farmers at that time—in 1932-33 —were doubtful of their ability to grow wheat as a cash crop, and had continued to grow oats and barley in excess of their own requirements. A tariff had been imposed in Great Britain against the importation of oats and barley, which made it very difficult to find a market for it here; and we had to get some way of absorbing the oats and barley on hands. This scheme of mixing with maize was adopted. I do not know if any other scheme was suggested at the time for the absorption of this grain.

When the Act came into operation in May, 1933, the percentage was raised from 10 per cent. to 15 per cent., and in July to 25 per cent. It was again raised in October, to 33? per cent. The percentage went on increasing for some time, and reached the peak point in December, 1935, when it stood at 50 per cent. Then, in October of the following year, it began to decline, and has been going down since. Taking the average for the past two years, the average percentage of oats and barley in the maize meal mixture has been a fraction over 14 per cent. To give some idea of the problem that we had to contend with at that time, I may say that, before these abnormal conditions arose, there were roughly about 1,000,000 cwts. of barley sold each year in this part of Ireland, and 1,600,000 cwts. of oats. As well as that, about 900,000 cwts. of oats were exported. As I have said, the export of oats was made very difficult at the end of 1932, owing to a tariff. Other ways of absorbing barley and oats remained: a certain amount of barley was taken by the maltsters, and a certain amount of oats was taken by the oat-meal millers for human food and by people who had horses—race-horses—and so on. On that basis there were about 50,000 acres of barley and 125,000 acres of oats grown for sale, taking the average of the ten years before 1932.

We may assume that the same amount of barley was absorbed through the ordinary channels, and roughly the same amount of oats—except that there was no oats exported during those six or seven years since 1932. In addition to the normal absorption of barley and oats, the maize meal mixture accounted for about 300,000 cwts.; that is, the average over the six years would be about 300,000 cwts. of oats and barley absorbed through the maize meal mixture scheme. That has gone down considerably. In 1938, for instance, that figure was reduced to something under half in both oats and barley.

The question would naturally be asked whether the scheme conferred any particular benefit on the grain growers besides absorbing their grain. It did also in the way of price. The only good comparison we can get with regard to price is to take the yearly average price of oats in, say, the North of Ireland and the Twenty-Six Counties. Taking that average, we find that our farmers got 2/9 per cwt. more for their oats than the Northern Ireland farmers in 1933. In 1934 they got 1/7 more; in 1935, 1/6 more; in 1936, 2/- more; and in 1937, 1/2 more. I have not yet succeeded in getting the Northern Ireland figure for 1938, but I believe the margin is somewhat less than for 1937. The next question is whether the legislation passed in 1933 actually had the effect of increasing tillage. In 1938, we had 160,000 acres under cereals more than we had in 1931. The acreage of wheat was up by 210,000; barley was up by 2,000; and oats down by 52,000 acres.

There is another basis with regard to the cash value of these cereal crops. As I have mentioned, a certain amount of oats and barley was disposed of for sale for the ten years, 1922 to 1932, and the average cash value of these sales to the farmers was about £1,000,000, taking the value of barley at 7/- per cwt. and oats at 5/6 per cwt. During the years 1932 and 1933, when the scheme for the increase of cereal crops came into operation, the cash receipts of our farmers amounted to almost £2,000,000 each year, and, since then, that is, for the years 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1938, the cash value has been something in excess of £3,000,000 each year. In addition to these receipts, I should mention that there is very much more wheat grown by farmers for their own use. It is not easy to be exact as to the figure, but as against the average yield of wheat in the year, we know how much wheat is taken by the flour millers and we can make a very fair estimate of the amount used for seed because we know the amount imported and the amount of land sown with wheat. Making due allowance for all these things, there must be about 60,000 acres of wheat now used by farmers in their own households.

I have already, in various announcements, made it known that it was my intention to suspend the maize meal mixing scheme at the end of this present cereal year, that is, at the end of August. In order to do that a Bill is necessary because, under the legislation, some percentage must be prescribed. Although the scheme has. I believe, conferred benefits on the grain growers, I think we can now suspend the mixture without creating any great hardship, because, in the first place, over each of the last three or four years, less and less barley and oats were offered for sale to the maize millers. During the last year, it was very little over 10 per cent. In the second place, the price realised now by the grain growers who have oats and barley for sale is not very much higher than it would be on a free market, where a certain amount can be exported and a certain amount used by millers in the ordinary way, as they will use it, if they get it at a certain price. The third point is that wheat is now recognised by all as a good alternative cash crop, and I think we can take it from the statements of the various political Parties that whatever Government came into power, the wheat scheme would be continued, so that the farmers may have the assurance that it is a permanent policy.

There is, of course, opposition to this proposal which I am making in this Bill, and there is naturally a conflict of opinion between the grain growing farmers and the feeding farmers. The grain growers are anxious to have an assured market for their grain but, on the other hand, the farmers who buy feeding stuffs are anxious to have a free market in which they can buy feeding stuffs at the lowest possible price. The whole question for us is to make up our minds as to what is the fairest thing in the circumstances and whether we should still continue to give the grain growers this assured market while, at the same time, making feeding stuffs at least a little dearer. They are not, so far as we can find out from maize millers and so on, very much dearer now than they would be if there was a free market, but, at least, they are somewhat dearer than they would be if the whole maize-meal mixture scheme were withdrawn.

We do not like to contemplate, and I am sure that nobody in the Seanad would like to contemplate, a further decline in the acreage under oats, and if that decline were to continue I think we should have to consider some alternative scheme, if we were not compelled to consider bringing back again the maize-meal mixture scheme. If the Bill goes through, the necessary Order under the Bill would not be made until about the end of August, and if any alternative scheme were suggested in the meantime I should be very glad to consider it. If any Senator, or group of Senators, were keen on a reconsideration of this matter, they might even perhaps ask the Commission on Agriculture to go into the matter and hear what they think about it.

With regard to barley, the millers, I believe, will continue to buy barley so that they may turn out barley meal for feeding. In Northern Ireland, a fair amount of barley is being turned out, and I think the millers here would be inclined to do the same thing. Of course, they will require that barley at a price which they consider economic as compared with the price of maize, but I hope it may be possible to carry on business, to some extent at any rate, on those lines, because whatever objection may be raised to the maize-mixture scheme by some Senators—and I am sure there are Senators who are against it—every Senator who has gone into the matter deeply will admit that the quality of our bacon has improved as a result of the feeding of barley in the mixture to pigs, and it is feared that if we drop barley and oats completely as feeding stuffs for our pigs the quality of our bacon will deteriorate. I, therefore, hope it may be possible for the millers to continue to turn out barley meal, as such, apart altogether from the maize-meal mixture.

Having mentioned the general object of the Bill, I think it necessary that I should say something about the sections because there are quite a lot of references to the various Acts, and it is not easy for a Senator, without considerable research, to find out what exactly is meant by each section. Under Section 2, the definition of a compound feeding stuff is being changed, and the effect of it is that, in future, animal medicines which do not contain any feeding stuffs as one of their ingredients will no longer be a compound feeding stuff for the purposes of the Act. It has been found, in practice, almost impossible to control the manufacture of animal medicines, or to secure that where they are being manufactured by a registered manufacturer they are being made to the formula covered by the licence, and at the approved price. If I might digress for a moment, I might say that, under the original Act, we tried to get at what we considered the abuse of proprietary medicines being sold for animals under a description that was likely to mislead the farmers as to their value, and they were sold at prices very much higher than those at which they should be sold. We tried in the original legislation to get the manufacturers of medicines used for animal feeding to give us the formula and the price. Unless the Department approved of the formula and the price no permit was issued for the manufacture of such medicines. We have found it impossible to administer that provision and we removed it from the Act. We have therefore let these people carry on, and let the farmers take care of themselves.

Section 3 provides for the making of suspension orders. It gives powers which enable the Minister to make the necessary orders to suspend the maize-meal mixture regulations. The first sub-section gives power to suspend the scheme. The second sub-section gives power to reimpose it or to revive it. The third sub-section suspends the registration of maize millers, and the fourth sub-section gives power to revive that register. If the maize—meal mixture is suspended and is no longer necessary, it will be no longer necessary to keep a register of maize millers. Then sub-section (5) makes it clear that it will not be any longer necessary to get a licence on the part of maize millers, so that any farmer or trader will be free to mill it.

Section 4 operates generally in the same manner as Section 3 in regard to the milling of maize. In the 1933 Act, as I have already mentioned with regard to proprietary medicines, we made it compulsory on the manufacturers of compound feeding stuffs here to register and get a licence. They had to disclose to the Department, in confidence, what the composition of the compound feeding stuff was and also the price. Unless the Department was satisfied that the feeding stuff was good and suitable for the animals for which it was advertised and, also, that it was being sold at a fair price, the licence was not issued. Now we are withdrawing that regulation because we think it would be very difficult to continue having these compound feeding stuffs controlled while we are dropping the maize mixture scheme. One reason for that is that it would be necessary to maintain our inspectorial staff, and so on, if we were to continue that. Therefore, we think it is as well to drop it. It will be necessary for the manufacturer of the compound feeding stuff and the retailer who is selling it to produce an analysis giving the amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats under the Act. If there are any frauds found on analysis, the manufacturer will, of course, be subject to severe penalties.

Is that under the 1933 Act?

No, it is under the other Act. Section 5 defines the suspendable provisions so far as the manufacturer of common feeding stuffs is concerned and it provides for the suspension of the order here to control the importation of maize. It is generally on the same lines as the preceding section. First of all, we suspend the maize meal scheme and, next, the registration of maize millers so that anybody is free to mill maize. This section suspends the registration of maize importers so that anybody is free to import maize. It has the same scheme of sub-sections as the others with regard to the reviving of the scheme.

Section 6 deals with the laying of the orders on the Tables of both Houses of the Oireachtas. Section 7 is an amendment which is put in to remove certain doubts as to the exact meaning of the paragraph in the Schedule where the Revenue Commissioners appear to have some trouble. But it does not mean any change of policy or practice. It is only removing doubts as to the interpretation of the section. Section 8 is a definition section. This is the principal effect: that where a feeding stuff is brought in as ship's stores it will not be subject to any of the regulations under the Cereals Act. We had some trouble with regard to ship's stores. For instance, some of the ships brought in soya beans, which were brought in absolutely as ship's stores. These were subject to the Cereals Act. That provision had a rather bad effect on shipping here in general, because all these restrictions, or at least a combination of them, had the effect of keeping ships from calling here at all. For that reason, this section is exempted from the Act in the case of feeding stuffs or foods brought along for ship's stores. I think that is all that really arises.

I support the Bill, as the Minister is now doing what we wanted him to do all along. For that reason I do not feel there is any necessity for criticism. Of course, I could point out that the Act which this Bill purports to repeal was most disastrous to the country. While it made fortunes for the millers, it lessened immensely our production of poultry, eggs, beet and butter to some extent. Some satisfaction might be got from what the Minister is now doing by people who get comfort in saying: "I told you so." I do not find any satisfaction in saying: "I told you so." I feel rather pleased that the Minister has now the commonsense of seeing the error of his ways and going back to a sounder policy. It is sad for the country to find that the Minister and the Government have to learn by experience, and that they will still continue to persist in carrying out a number of wild cat schemes; that they will not give up these schemes until it has been brought home to them beyond question that these schemes are absolutely and disastrously wrong.

I expected the Minister to have been more apologetic about this whole business. Senator Counihan says it is a disastrous business. I welcome the measure as a very small instalment of the repeal of unsound restrictions and for what it is worth. We only hope it is only a forerunner of many other measures that are to restore full freedom of trade to the citizens.

I wish now to ask the Minister for information with regard to the inspectors appointed to carry out this measure that is being repealed. Whenever one of these Acts had been passed we find that a number of inspectors were appointed. These generally managed to entrench themselves upon the establishment. When the Act goes or is suspended, these inspectors are still there. Will the Minister tell us the number of inspectors he appointed under the Act that is now being repealed, whether they are there now, and if they are to be got rid of. There is another ill-starred measure—the Cattle Slaughter Act. What happened to the inspectors under that Act? Were they got rid of, or are they still there? I hope the Minister will realise that, in addition to the burdens placed upon those people who want feeding stuffs, this measure that is now being repealed has occasioned very considerable capital expenditure to hard-pressed institutions.

I know a creamery which is by no means amply endowed, which incurred very considerable capital expenditure to meet the requirements of this Act. A certain amount of that expenditure would never have been undertaken but for this measure, and to a certain extent it will be redundant now that the Act is being repealed. The lesson that is to be learned from these things is the dislocation and the unnecessary expenditure that is involved by embarking upon them light heartedly and then letting the public suffer the consequences. I may be wrong, but I do not remember that it was ever suggested at first that this measure was occasioned by the economic war. It was put before us as a measure of great virtue for the encouragement of tillage, apart from the economic war. We do not hear much about that now. The explanation now is that it was a war measure and that it is being abandoned now that the war is over. I should like to know from the Minister if there is to be free importation of maize henceforth, or if it is to be the subject of restriction, so that we shall suffer the inconvenience we labour under in all directions at present in getting what we want.

This measure appears to have the universal support of both Houses. I am one of those who saw great advantage in the Act which is now to be repealed. It does not seem to be realised that a considerable section of the farming industry always made oats a cash crop. The maize meal mixture was an undoubted benefit to these people. They were able to get a decent price for their oats for the past few years. Although I must admit that they complained of the cost of feeding stuffs, I think that on balance, they had benefited. These people, I am afraid, will be very severely handicapped. Their farms are mainly in mountain areas and the land is incapable of growing wheat, while it is also remote from railway stations. These farmers have been dependent, to a great extent, on their oats as a cash crop. Unfortunately, they will suffer as a result of the present measure. We must admit that the majority of agriculturists are in favour of the present Bill and, while voicing the grievances of these other people, I cannot refuse to support the Bill.

I cannot fall into line with those who are anxious to see this Bill rushed through in its present form. My county has in the past been one of from eight to 13 that grew grain extensively. That was the case up to the establishment of the Oireachtas. Very often, the hopes of the grain-growers have been raised by talk from political platforms but history will, I think, record that, each time they were let down. I do not think it can be pretended that poor land is capable of producing wheat economically at 30/- and that barley and oats should be abandoned. If we look back over a period of 20 years, we shall find that the honoured firm of which Senator Sir John Keane was, during that period, representative— the firm of Guinness—did exceptionally well. In my part of the country, we were always looked upon as slaves of Guinness. They succeeded in cornering the market and in paying us a price for barley which just kept the crop alive. We got 14/-, 14/3 or 14/6 per barrel—a very poor price—while, thank goodness, Guinness flourished.

I think that our home Parliament and Guinness could have done something to help those counties which were barley-producing. In our county we had seven breweries and, in addition, at an early period, we had some exporters. Now we have only a few breweries. They buy malt and send it, as usual, to Dublin. My reaction to the statement of the Minister is one of concern because the people whom this measure principally affects are the poorest of our farmers. Their land is poor, their implements may be poor, and they are not in a position to grow flourishing crops of wheat. They may not be placed as some of us were who had land green over a period of 70 or 80 years and who succeeded, as I have succeeded, in growing wheat over four or five years with some measure of success. The position that confronts these men, with the miserable price that is being offered for barley, is not a healthy one. I am not satisfied that we can for all time go on growing wheat in this way for four or five successive years, and we shall want a cash crop. I think it is directly up to the Minister, before he puts this Bill on the Statute Book, to give us some measure of guarantee as to the prices which barley and oats will make. If we are not in a position to treat our labourers in a Christian spirit, where are they going to be? I have 16 or 18 men employed in grain—growing and the whole venture depends on the measure of loyalty I can extract from these men by paying them something like a living wage.

We are going to feed. What are we going to feed? We, in my county, buy our store cattle all over Ireland. The best of our store cattle will, inevitably, go to the market where the buyer has the great advantage of a bounty of from 5/- to 7/- per cwt. when his cattle have matured. I may go into a fair and see a fine young bullock standing against the wall with its eyes jumping out of its head. That may be in the town of Kilkenny. The man who is going to get 5/- per cwt. more at the end of a period of three months will outbid me for that animal and I shall be left with a half-starved animal from Clare or Galway which will neither grow nor fatten. I hate to have to talk so much about the economic war, the increase of rates and such matters, it gets on my nerves to be hearing of that every day in the week. I do not say that this Act accomplished a lot but it did accomplish something.

In my opinion, there should be an agreed agricultural policy and we should not have all this chopping and changing. It takes the heart out of everyone. One does not know where he is. I am not suggesting that Ministers of the Party I support or of the Party I oppose were anything but sincere but the advice of practical farmers does not seem to be taken. We should not allow this Bill to run through automatically. Before we do away with the previous Act, we should have some guarantee in respect of our oats and barley. Wheat and oats are foods, and we are told that we should not increase the price of foodstuffs. Barley is not a food but a luxury. It has borne a luxury tax. Everything we produce is good—perhaps, too good. The land is good, the beef is good and we have met with a considerable measure of success as regards barley, but the market for it has gone. Others have profited by that crop. Those who grew the crop and those who laboured it have not profited. As this measure administers another kick to the crop, I am inclined to oppose it. I believe that members of the county committee would be opposed to the suspension of this scheme. It has not been much of a help, but such as it was, we have come to recognise that it afforded some measure of a guarantee. As an agriculturist who is doing his best, before I see these guarantee. wiped out I am inclined to ask what is going to take its place?

Senator Counihan referred to the repeal of the admixture scheme. As I understand it, the Minister is taking power only to suspend the scheme and he is also taking power, if it is considered necessary, to re-enact it. If there was any attempt to repeal the scheme, I certainly would strongly oppose it. In fact it is with some reluctance that I agree to its suspension. I have the same outlook on this Bill as Senator McGee. He pointed out that, amongst the members of his county committee, there will be considerable opposition to this Bill and that they will receive the news of its introduction with disappointment. I venture to say that in the Minister's own county and also in the county from which you, A Chathaoirligh, come there will be great disappointment, too, because of the passage of this Bill. I say with all respect to Senator Counihan that a very big percentage of the farmers will be disappointed at the suspension of the admixture scheme. It will be a very big blow to many of them.

We hear a lot of talk about the necessity of providing work on the land, but we cannot get work on the land for our people if we are not going to have tillage. As Senator McGee has stated, there has been a good deal of exaggeration in regard to the opposition to the admixture scheme. Opposition has not come from the majority of the genuine farmers of the country. However, as I say, the Minister is taking power only to suspend the Bill and to that I very reluctantly give my consent, Many of the farmers in my own county and in poor districts throughout the country cannot grow anything but oats, and this scheme, to some extent, provided a market for them. Personally, I do not grow oats as a catch crop, but I know that a large percentage of the people do. Under the circumstances, I am not prepared to vote against the Bill, but I certainly hope that we shall be able to get the Minister in the very near future to reconsider his decision.

I disapprove of this measure, and I disapprove of it for the same reason as Senator Sir John Keane approves of it. That is, I believe it is an indication of an easing-off in the policy of protection, Senator Sir John Keane referred to the economic war and reminded us that when this Bill was introduced it was introduced as an ordinary measure, not as a war measure. I am not quite clear who was responsible for the statement, but at least somebody has said that it was at one time stated that the economic war was a blessing in disguise. I am inclined to repeat that statement here to-day, and I believe if the atmosphere for the economic advance was really brought about by the economic war, we should be very cautious least the economic peace should be converted into an economic retreat. I believe that the suspension of this scheme will have a bad effect on agriculture generally, not alone on the production of oats and barley but also on the production of various other crops. As Senator Goulding has pointed out, it will be a severe blow to people in the mountain areas, because we all know there are certain areas where wheat cannot be grown successfully and where the beet scheme cannot be availed of because those areas are too far away from the beet factories. For that and other reasons, the farmers in these areas cannot avail of the advantages of the beet industry.

I was amazed to find out that there was so little opposition to this Bill in the Dáil. I cannot understand why somebody did not oppose it there. It may be argued that oats and barley cannot be considered as rotation crops. I believe that is not so. I believe in many cases they are definitely necessary by way of rotation. In connection with beet, it may be argued that wheat follows beet. The difficulty in most parts of the country that I know of, is that the beet crop cannot be got out in time to plant wheat and as a result of that, and probably because of our climate, in many cases oats is put in instead of wheat. I believe that, as a result of this measure, the acreage under wheat, as well as the acreage under oats and barley will be reduced. I believe that the result will be that we shall have an all-round drop in the acreage under tillage in this country. I am sure the Minister must have examined the situation and he probably has satisfied himself that that is not the case but I see no way out of it. In a statement in the Dáil, or here in the Seanad originally on an Estimate, he said that during the past six years on the average 50,000 acres of barley and 50,000 acres of oats, had been used up under this scheme. Does the Minister suggest that there will be no falling off in the acreage under these crops as a result of the suspension of this scheme? I suggest there will be. That means that we are going to have a big drop in the area under cultivation generally. If we have a drop in the acreage under cultivation, it will mean that we will have less employment in the rural areas.

I believe that if we are sincere in all this talk about the flight from the land and the drift to the towns, instead of doing anything which may decrease employment in rural areas, we should make a definite drive to increase such employment, to try to create employment on the farm and to encourage farmers to go into greater production and not lesser production, as I am afraid the Bill suggests. I believe that if we go out of production of barley and oats it will react adversely on our bacon industry. If people go in for the feeding of pigs, and do not include a mixture of barley in the feed, there is no question about it, the quality of our bacon will drop. Irish bacon is famous the world over, as everybody knows, and, in my opinion, it would be a disastrous thing to take any chances on that. We all know, human nature being what it is, that if a man who is feeding a few pigs—I am not talking about the man who goes in for scientific feeding—finds he can go into a store, and get a bag of meal, he will not be inclined to feed any of the mixture. He will feed just on straight maize. We have a lot of people, no doubt, who will tell us that a pig cannot be fattened on oats or barley. I differ very much from them in that opinion. I think a pig can be fattened even on crushed oats but a pig can definitely be fattened on barley. It will be pointed out that the mixture would be improved by including maize meal. I am quite prepared to admit that.

But the point is that every £1 spent on maize meal leaves the country straight away, whereas every £1 spent on home-grown cereals remains in the country, and if put into circulation must find its way into the pockets of the shopkeepers in the provincial towns and into the pockets of the blacksmith, the carpenter and the various other people who earn their livelihood in the rural areas. As some speaker has pointed out, I believe that it is really the people who are going in for scientific pig feeding who will welcome the suspension of this measure, and that the people who have been feeding a few pigs up to five, six, eight or ten pigs, even though they have been, as Senator Goulding has pointed out, complaining about the admixture scheme, I believe if they were really to consider the position seriously, as many of them have done and many more of them will when they see this measure put through, they would be quite convinced that it would be in their own interests that the admixture scheme should continue in force. There are various other reasons why I believe it is desirable. I agree absolutely with Senator McGee when he says that what we want is really a guaranteed market for cereals. I believe that that is really the key to the whole problem of rural Ireland to-day—that we want to extend the guaranteed market, which may or may not mean a guaranteed price, but at least we would want the guaranteed market so that farmers would know when growing their crops that they would have some place to dispose of them when the crops were saved and threshed.

The Minister, I am sure, in his nice way, will point out that there is no necessity for this admixture scheme any longer, and that with the amount of oats and barley in the country this year, and with the bad weather, this scheme will not be necessary at all. That may be so, but we can carry our minds back very easily to a time not very long ago when the farmers were hawking their, oats and barley all over the country and asking buyers for God's sake to take them off their hands at practically any price. The last time that happened it took farmers a long time to recover. The result of that was disastrous from a psychological point of view, if you like, and the farmers got such a sickening of that when it did occur that they are only now recovering.

If we were to have a repetition of that, the result would be that it would take years to overcome it, and it would take years for farmers to regain that confidence which is necessary to ensure increased production on the land. In connection with the guaranteed price or guaranteed market for cereals, I believe that rather than have any drifting away from that policy, which, I take it, is the policy of the Government, we should have an intensification of that policy, not alone in regard to cereals but in connection with other crops. We have numerous other things which can be produced on the land here, and which are being produced, but for which there is a very spasmodic sort of market. People are producing things which can be produced on practically any farm, but I believe that if they had a guaranteed market or a guaranteed price, or both, there would be a very definite and noticeable increase in a very short time in the production of those particular things.

In his speech in the Dáil the Minister stated that he would welcome any suggestion put forward. I am afraid I am like the various other speakers who have spoken against the measure. I cannot put up an alternative. I opposed the measure when it came in before and I said at that time, and I repeat it now, that some scheme might possibly be worked out whereby a farmer would get an amount of maize meal in proportion to the amount of the cereals which he had in his possession. That would be eliminating the millers, if you like. I do not know whether it would be possible or not, but as I say, I think something could be tried along those lines. There is a number of inspectors in connection with other schemes in the country who could possibly be utilised for that kind of work. I suppose it would be difficult, and the Minister will probably point out that it would be practically impossible. I do not know whether it would or not, but I believe if it could be done, and if it were workable the result would be an increase in the production of various commodities and necessaries of life which are at the present time being imported to a very great extent.

We hear a lot about the size of holdings that are called economic holdings being too small. I believe if we could get the full production of the natural wealth of this country, as I suggest, that there would be very little complaint about the size of holdings. I suppose Senator Baxter will be on his feet in a short time, and I am sure he will contradict everything I said. In any case, I believe that is so, and I would ask the Minister to seriously consider not only the reintroduction of this particular measure in the very near future, but intensification of the policy which was enshrined in it when first introduced.

I approach this debate with mixed feelings and in fact, if it had not been for some of the remarks made by other Senators, I might not have approached it at all as I had not the opportunity beforehand of looking up any facts or figures and have to rely mainly on memory for anything I may say. I may say, to begin with, that I am glad the Minister has decided, at long last, to suspend, if not to inter, the whole policy associated with the name of this Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Bill and I have never yet attended at funeral at which I felt happier than I do at this funeral. The only thing that alarms me is that some people appear to look forward to the happy resurrection of the measure and I, personally, sincerely hope that although the measure is only suspended there will be no question of any resurrection, because I think it is the end, and I hope the final end, of one of the most disastrous policies on which the Government has ever engaged. I admit that certain agricultural interests, especially interests connected with large-scale tillage farming in Wexford and Louth, have been, or have imagined themselves to be, benefited by the operation of this Bill, but I am equally certain that other and more important agricultural interests in other parts of the country, not only in the grazing districts for which Senator Counihan is well qualified to speak, but also in the small farming areas in places like Mayo and Cork, have been definitely injured in their agricultural activity by the operation of these Acts, and I am quite certain that, from the point of view of the country as a whole, our agricultural production has lost far more than it has gained in consequence of the operation of these Acts.

Let me remind you of some of the facts that should be present in the mind of every Senator in dealing with a measure of this kind. The object of the Bill was to increase agricultural production and employment. Has it increased agricultural production and employment? The most important element in our total agricultural production is the production of live stock and live-stock products. That element in our output which is represented by the sale of cash crops such as wheat and beet is trivial and unimportant in comparison with the other elements represented by such things as cattle, poultry and pigs, things which use cereals as raw materials and are in no way concerned with them as finished products. If we compare our history in the last eight or ten years with that part of Ireland whose name is mentioned only with some heart-burning in this Assembly, namely, Northern Ireland, we find that in that region there has been a substantial, in fact, I may say an enormous increase, in the production of pigs in the last eight or nine years. There has been a substantial increase in the production of poultry, and, if we want to know why that increase took place, we have only got to look at the cost of feeding stuffs in that region and compare it with the cost in this region.

The Minister's Department circulates to Senators a valuable publication which gives the price of feeding stuffs in certain important centres in this region month by month. To complete our information in that regard, the Minister should circulate the cost of the same feeding stuffs in centres like Belfast, Newry and Derry, which are in Ireland, although not in Ireland in inverted commas. If we had that information before us, we would see quite well why the agricultural output has rapidly increased in quantity and in value in Northern Ireland, whereas it has substantially diminished in value and has not increased in quantity in our own region.

Senator Quirke said that if this Act is suspended there is considerable danger of a fall in production and in employment. Personally I think that there is much more danger of a fall in production and in employment if the Act—and the policy underlying the Act—is maintained. No such Act was on the Statute Book in 1931, but, if we look up the figures, we will find that in that year we produced, I think, a 14,000,000 cwt. crop of oats, and we fed over 70 per cent. of that crop to live stock. We also in that year imported a record crop of maize meal and maize —I think it was as much as 12,000,000 cwts. In other words, as our import of feeding stuffs went up, our production of tillage crops devoted mainly to the feeding of live stock tended, on the whole, to maintain itself, and was in no way diminished by the fact that we imported such quantities of feeding stuffs. As tillage and production of home-grown cereals increased, there was a tendency to increase the import of feeding stuffs as well, because the farmer desires a balanced ration and must mix the imported feeding stuffs with the home-grown, so that there is no real opposition of interests from the point of view of the country as a whole between the import of feeding stuffs and the production of home-grown cereals, most of which are used for feeding live stock at home.

About the years 1930 or 1931 we produced a bumper crop of home-grown oats and were feeding most of it to live stock, but in 1938 we find that the total crop fell to about 10,000,000 cwts. In other words, in spite of this policy, our total production of oats tended to diminish rather than to increase. In fact, the policy was absolutely futile so far as it concerned any effort to increase the total production of oats. Land formerly devoted to oat growing switched over to the growing of wheat, and there was an increase in the wheat crop at the expense of oats and barley. Therefore, in order to get back to a sound agricultural policy, the sooner we abandon every aspect of this cereal policy the better; and in that case we may hope in the course of a few years to get back to a 14,000,000 cwt. crop of oats, most of which I hope will be used for feeding live stock.

Senator Quirke has said that every £1 we spend on Indian meal leaves the country, whereas in the case of home-grown cereals it stays in the country. In 1930 or 1931, we were spending whatever pounds it cost to import some 10,000,000 or 12,000,000 cwts. of maize. That much money was leaving the country. In those years, well over £30,000,000 was coming back to the country in respect of agricultural exports. In more recent years, when our import of maize has fallen to 4,000,000 cwts., our export of agricultural produce has fallen to well below £17,000,000. In other words, for every £1 which left the country for Indian meal far more than £2 came back again, and, as we have diminished the payment of money for Indian meal, we have diminished in a greater ratio the payment received for our agricultural exports.

As I said in the beginning of my remarks, we are assisting—as the the French would say—at the funeral of a disastrous policy, and I hope that there will be no blessed resurrection, or rather cursed resurrection, of this unfortunate policy; and now, my final remark regarding that policy will be: Requiescat in pace.

I am going to disappoint Senator Quirke, since in fact I have not a great deal to say on this measure at all. The first thing I would like to say is that I welcome the introduction of this Bill, and I would like to applaud the courage of the Minister in introducing it now when he sees that it is the wiser course. I say that, if he would take back to his Ministerial colleagues a little bit of advice from the Seanad, he would say to them that when they make mistakes they would find that it would be much better for the country and for themselves as a political Party if they would come along and admit their mistakes and introduce measures to make amends. It gives me particular pleasure to see the Minister decide to take this step.

This whole admixture scheme really began to be talked about in this country before many of us became very prominent in public life. I think that I heard it suggested about 20 years ago when I came to Dublin to attend one of the earliest meetings of the Farmers' Organisation in those days. The sponsors of the scheme came from South Kildare and they remained sponsors of it for a long time. Some of the support came from North Tipperary and some of it from the Minister's own native county of Wexford—though I think there was not so much from that quarter, where they seem to have had a fair amount of sanity in those days. At that period in our history, people who believed that they could get their barley and oats fed to other people's pigs and calves did not succeed in convincing the majority of the farmers that this was a good scheme.

They enunciated it until 1929, and, somewhere around that period, they succeeded in getting the Tariff Tribunal, or some such body, to hear the case. With some representatives from my county, I had the privilege—or underwent the disadvantage—of having to produce evidence against this scheme there. The tribunal, in its wisdom, decided against the scheme, and despite the very severe cross-examination from the sponsors of the scheme, we succeeded in convincing the tribunal that this scheme was neither good for the feeders nor for the tillage farmers. I was recently looking across some of my evidence and discovered that I pointed out that the net result of the introduction of such a scheme would be that we would feed fewer live stock and probably the area under tillage would actually decline. I think generally that it has been found that that has been the net result of this scheme.

It is rather tragic that it has been such an expensive lesson, that we had to waste so much time or spend so much money to discover the true facts; but now, having got so far, we can be wiser for the future. There is something disappointing, however, in listening to Senators who ought to be supporting the Minister rather than declaiming against his courage in introducing this measure. They have been talking as if, when this measure is passed, the live stock feeders in this country are never going to feed a cwt. of home-grown produce to their own live stock again. Nothing could be further from the truth. As far as I am concerned, as one who never believed in this scheme, equally do I distrust the policy that would pretend to indicate that live stock raisers in this country are totally dependent on the importation of foreign feeding stuffs to keep their live stock going. That was not the truth recently; it never was, and I hope it never will be. From the national point of view, it would be much better that we should go on producing the greatest quantity of food for live stock that we can keep on producing economically. That ought to be our policy, but I say "economically".

The truth, of course, about it is that this grain admixture scheme was terribly uneconomic from various points of view. In the first place, the millers had to go into districts in which the grain was growing, purchase it in the market, and pay very high transport charges to take it to their mills to have it manufactured. They had to pay equally high transport charges to distribute it all over the country again, and that largely assisted in making the scheme uneconomic, apart from the higher price which the miller was forced to pay for these grains. It ought to be understood that the people who had to buy these grains in the past to feed on their own farms were feeding a considerable quantity of produce which they raised on their own farm to their pigs, poultry and cattle stocks. Anybody who looks into the figures will find that, in most of these districts, the area under the potato crop is larger than in any other district in the country. It is true that, in County Louth and in County Wexford, you will see very large areas under grain, but you will not find as large areas under the potato crop as you will find in a county like mine, in areas like West Cork and elsewhere in the country, where the people live who were expected to purchase this admixture food.

We were never dependent on the importation of foreign foods to continue in the production of live stock. I should say that the farmers in my county, kept in the production of live stock dependent on imports of foreign food represented no more than possibly 30 per cent., and possibly the 70 per cent. fed there on the farmsteads what was produced on the farmsteads. Senator Quirke and others should not try to get away with the idea that this food was being forced on people who want to buy grain from the ends of the earth; and that it was the right thing to do with these people. Nothing of the kind— the facts are all the other way. With the abandonment of this scheme, we are not going to have these people changing the economies of their holdings to any great extent. These people will continue in the production of their own grain and root crops as in the past. To the extent to which these have to be supplemented to enable them to increase their yields of poultry, pigs, or cattle, they will be supplemented by the imports of a cheaper food, and if the grain-growers in the tillage areas, with much better land, as I have said here repeatedly, and where the labour content in the production of a crop is much lower than it is with us on our poorer soils, are able to stretch their traces, produce heavy crops of grain and put it on the market at a price that is really economic for the feeders in counties like mine, it ought to be possible to organise machinery to transfer these foods to the areas where they can be used up, if they cannot, and will not, be used on the farms on which they are raised.

That, however, is a problem for another day. That is the way to face this problem, and if Senator Quirke, and those who think with him, and who have fears for the situation which is going to be created for certain limited areas in the country, and for a number of grain-growers, by the abandonment of this scheme, are serious about trying to help these grain-growers, there are two things which they ought to do. They ought to advise all grain growers to feed as much as possible of the grain they raise on their farms. That is the first thing they ought to do—to try to get them away from the mentality, which they did an extraordinary amount to create and which made these people believe that they could raise their standard of living and secure better times by raising grain and pouring it out from their own counties to be fed to livestock in other counties. That was a wrong attitude of mind for those farmers. You will have a little trouble with them now because it is not easy to go back on what you preached from platforms and to say: "We had to abandon that scheme because pig feeders in other counties would not carry on feeding your stuff to their pigs."

Having got these people to realise that the right way to utilise their grain is to feed it on their own farms first, if there still be a surplus, let us see what can be done between the farmers in other areas of the country who are not able to raise on their own farms all the foods they require for the live stock they want to keep there, and examine if it is possible, by any scheme of credit, any scheme of assistance to transport, or any other method to make available for these other farmers in these poorer areas some of this grain which cannot be consumed on the land on which it is. I suggest to Senator Quirke, and to those who think with him, that it would be much better to explore the possibilities in that field, rather than to throw up their hands in despair and to say that they are lost now because the Minister has the courage to do what a good many of his colleagues ought to do, but apparently are not prepared to do, namely, to discover that it is up to him to right a wrong.

I am in favour of giving the Minister power to suspend the admixture scheme. I think there will be no difficulty in finding a market for the grain crop this year. I believe the admixture scheme has given a very great fillip to tillage, and that it has served its purpose well. There is a good deal of contention in the country in regard to the admixture scheme. I believe that if a plebiscite of farmers were taken, it would be found that half would vote in favour of keeping it on, and the other half against. I think it was Senator McGee who regretted that the Minister would not take advice from practical farmers. I regret that the Minister has not got more practical farmers in this House from whom to take advice, and, in saying that, I do not want to cast any reflection on the intelligence or eloquence of any members of the House. I do, however, think it a pity that, in an agricultural country like this, we have not got more practical farmers in this House.

A section of people have grumbled considerably about the wheat and beet schemes. Continuous uproar has been created in connection with these two crops, but I believe that these two crops have come to stay, and that, instead of having these two crops, what the Government ought to aim at is to have considerably more crops grown in the soil of this country. Any man who visits any of the progressive agricultural countries in Europe will find that the variety of crops grown there is ten times as great as the variety here. Every conceivable thing is grown on the land, and I should say that, if we set ourselves to work, we might overtake some of these countries 150 years from now. I think it was Senator Johnston who contrasted the Six-Counties with the Twenty-Six Counties. The only contrast I should like to make in connection with the two areas is that the number of pessimists in the Six Counties is considerably smaller than the number in the Twenty-Six Counties.

As I say, I think that half the people would be in favour of abolishing the admixture scheme and half in favour of carrying it on. However, I feel it has served its purpose well and has given a great fillip to tillage. I think that the nearer we get the people of the country to the red earth, the healthier they will be, and anything that would make for a reduction of tillage would be a bad step for the Government to take. Still, I think we have come to the time when the admixture scheme might be dropped, at least for one year. There will be no difficulty in finding the market for the grain produced and I am in favour of giving the Minister power to suspend this scheme.

I should not like Senators to think that I believe that the maize-meal mixture scheme was wrong. I said that I thought it had come to the time when we might be able to suspend, or entirely remove, that scheme, without inflicting any great hardship on grain growers, and I gave the reasons. I gave figures to show that I had conferred a great benefit on many grain growers. I showed that we had increased the tillage of the country and that we had got better prices for the farmers as a result of the scheme than they could have got, if there were no such scheme, and that the grain growers in this country, including the wheat growers, had got a considerable increase in the amount of cash received for their crops each year since this scheme came into operation. Even though these benefits were conferred on grain growers I said that though the amount of grain grown for this particular purpose is small that the price of grain got through this scheme and the price on the open market had got closer and that we could discontinue this scheme now without inflicting any great hardship on anybody. Senators who talk about changes, and say that we should not change our policy and so on forgot one thing. Surely to goodness if the scheme has served a good purpose and if it has come to the time when it is no longer necessary, then we should come to the Dáil and Seanad for necessary powers to change that scheme; I think that is good policy. I do not think that any Senator or anybody else genuinely thinks that no Minister and no Government should come here with even an agreed policy and say: "Let nobody make any change in that Bill for the next 100 years". That would be a ridiculous sort of thing to do.

I was asked about the inspectorial staff. The inspectorial staff on this job is not very large. Those of them not required for Cereals inspection will be absorbed for other purposes. If it ever happens that we have inspectors left without any work to do, well they are discharged. In the case of the Cattle and Sheep Slaughter Act we were able to discharge 120 of them when the Act went out of operation.

Are the inspectors under this Act on the permanent staff?

Only four of them altogether. They were transferred back to other services. Senator Sir John Keane also raised the difficulty of people in trade having to go to certain expenses because of the Cereals Act. I do not know what they may have done. They may have put in a dehulling plant for dehulling oats. I think the tendency will be to use more oats and barley for feeding in this country in the future. In Northern Ireland they are using oats and barley for feeding stuffs.

On maize imports there will in future be no restrictions whatsoever. Senators Goulding, Quirke and McGee gave reasons why we should be careful before making any change. Of course, this Bill only authorises and empowers the Minister to make a change which I intend to make in the Acts. But if anything should arise to show that I am wrong in anything I have said up to the present, if the acreage under oats and barley should turn out to be bigger, we might have to reconsider this and carry on the Act much longer. In that case we would have to carry on with the maize meal scheme longer than August next. But I am working on the assumption that the acreage under oats and barley is no higher or perhaps as high as it was last year. If it is any higher than it was last year I have not to take the necessary action to suspend the maize mixture. What Senator McGee said is possibly true, that barley is more a luxury product than either wheat or oats. Wheat and oats go to make necessary feeding stuffs, but barley goes to make beer and spirits which are luxury products. As far as the margin for barley for making beer and spirits is concerned one could insist on a high price. What makes the difficulty is the surplus barley. There is a considerable amount of barley beyond what is used for malting. It is hard to say how we can insist upon a higher price for barley as long as that surplus barley is there. I do not think the decline in tillage will be serious as a result of the dropping of the maize-meal mixture scheme now. Only about 20,000 acres of barley and 20,000 acres of oats were used each year for the maize-meal mixture. It is not likely that our tillage would decline by that much because there is a general tendency to use these for other purposes such as the feeding of cattle. I suppose it is due to the better market for cattle. Farmers are feeding their calves better than during the depressed period. The tendency is that we may be increasing our consumption of oats and barley. I am sure we can easily absorb all the oats grown in the country at present. If we can increase the amount of pigs in the country we can absorb more barley. At the worst, I think those most opposed to the change could only claim a decline in tillage of 20,000 acres of oats and 20,000 acres of barley. But with the present tendency in the price of live stock I do not think we will have that decline.

Senator Johnston gave figures showing that we had a decline in the acreage in oats under this scheme. I think that is true. But if Senator Johnston will take a graph of the decline that was going on in oats he will find that it was not so bad for the last seven years as before the Cereals Act came into operation. I can claim that we have arrested the decline in the acreage of oats by this scheme. If we drop the scheme now, the next couple of years will give us some indication as to whether a scheme like this is necessary or not in order to stop any further decline in the growing of oats. It is only by dropping the scheme that we can find that out. Senator Baxter says, "Drop it now and let the grain growers feed the grain to their own stock. If they have a surplus, let us see how that can be got to feeders in poor areas." But that is the whole problem. If Senator Baxter could suggest any solution which would be preferable to the maize-meal mixture I would be delighted. I think everybody would be delighted if a solution could be given. In introducing the Bill in 1933 I said that we had considered various solutions that could be found, but no solution was suggested to absorb the then surplus of oats and barley except the maize-meal scheme. I do not know if Senator Baxter or anybody can produce an alternative solution now. With regard to what Senator O'Callaghan said, if there are more pessimists amongst the farmers in the Six Counties than there are amongst the farmers here, I do not see any great future for the Six Counties.

I put it the other way.

Question put and declared carried.
Committee Stage fixed for Tuesday, 11th July.