Co-operative and Experimental Farms—Motions.

In the names of Senator Tunney, Senator McCrea and in my own name I move:—

That in the opinion of Seanad Éireann the Government should encourage and facilitate the establishment of a small number of co-operative farms, or co-operative farm units as an experiment, with a view to the extension of either or both of these systems of farming if found to be satisfactory.

I would like to make clear that I am not suggesting that there is only one system of agricultural co-operation. I believe there are several systems of co-operative farming which could reasonably be varied according to the sizes and types of farms and in accordance with the wishes of the persons concerned, but I believe that there is a great deal to be said for some system of co-operation in agriculture. Senators will notice that I mention, in particular, in addition to co-operative farms, the "co-operative farm unit" system. I should mention that this system was, I believe, first suggested in 1943 by Senator Orpen, who has spoken and written a good deal on this subject. It is one system of co-operative farming. I do not intend to go into any detail in regard to that because Senator Orpen is here, and I will leave it to him, the originator of that system, to explain it in detail to the Seanad.

It is desirable at the outset briefly to explain the reasons why I think it would be desirable for the Government to encourage this system. One reason, which I mentioned in the motion, was that the system might be extended if found to be satisfactory. There are two other very important reasons. One is that some of these farms might be used for experimental and demonstration purposes, and the other is that they could be used for the improvement of agricultural methods in general. Those two reasons are also mentioned, one by Senator Martin O'Dwyer and the other by Senator Counihan.

I would like to make clear that I am entirely in favour of Senator Martin O'Dwyer's suggestion that some co-operative farms or co-operative farm units could be used for experimental and demonstration purposes, with a view to the improvement of agricultural methods in general. I am also in agreement with Senator Counihan's suggestion that there should be more experimental farms in different parts of the country for the information and guidance of persons engaged in the farming industry, in addition to those already in existence.

On all these points I think we are in agreement, but I believe, in addition, that there is a possibility that this system might be found so satisfactory that it could be extended considerably throughout the country for the welfare of farmers generally, in addition to being used for experimental and demonstration purposes.

I am not suggesting for a moment that this proposal is the only important one, in regard to the improvement of agriculture. Some time ago I proposed a motion which I regarded as more urgent with regard to long term loans for the improvement of land and buildings, and I am glad that some of the suggestions made in that motion are being implemented.

I should now mention briefly some of the advantages which I think would accrue from this system. I intend to refer to them under five main headings. The first is: I believe it would bring about an increased output of food per acre and greater efficiency, for several reasons. First, many very small farms are so limited in acreage that it is very difficult for the farmers to pursue a correct rotation of crops.

In County Galway, where I come from, it is continually urged, and rightly so, that farmers should grow more sugar beet. There is a danger of the Tuam sugar factory being closed down unless more beet is grown. Yet, many farmers with very small holdings find it difficult to grow more sugar beet because it cannot be grown year after year on the same land. If several small farms could be worked in co-operation there could be a greater variety of crops, greater rotation of crops, and more sugar beet, wheat and other crops could be grown.

The second advantage is that it would bring about increased output per man-hour. I think everybody is agreed that the output per man-hour from farms in this country is low, compared with farms in many other countries. One of the reasons for that is that on these very small farms the farmers have not sufficient machinery, and more machinery could be obtained and could be more efficiently used if there was more co-operation.

The third advantage is that if we had more co-operation and more people working together for the common good, it would be encouraging to all concerned. When an individual small farmer is working absolutely on his own it may be an embarrassment to him when he is sick, and has to depend on the help of neighbours. If a number were co-operating, the illness of one member of the group would not be so serious, because the others would automatically carry on the work. Also, from a moral point of view, it is desirable that people should be encouraged to work together in co-operation, instead of being too individualistic. It is in accordance with Christian principles that people should be encouraged to work together for the common good and to help each other.

I should also emphasise that I am not suggesting for one moment that there should be compulsion, that people should be compelled or forced to co-operate, if they do not wish to do so. Some persons would prefer a small individual farm. Some persons, even if it meant a lower standard of living, even if it meant longer hours of work, would probably prefer to work on their own and, if they wish to do so, I am not suggesting that they should be compelled to do otherwise. But those who would like to work together in co-operation, should be helped and encouraged to do so.

A fourth advantage is that any profits made could be shared between the cooperators so that they would all benefit by any improvements brought about. Conversely any unavoidable loss would be shared, and I think that is a very good thing, because no matter how careful people are, as we all know, occasionally an animal may die even if it gets the best of attention. If a small farmer loses a cow the loss to him is very heavy, but if this loss is divided between three, four, five or six the hardship per head or per family would not be so great.

A fifth advantage of a co-operative farm, where the workers all work together for the common good over a farm owned by one man who merely employs men at a fixed rate of wages, is that there would be greater contentment amongst the workers, if they felt that the harder they worked the better off they would all be when the profits were shared, for in addition to a fixed minimum wage, they would look forward to some little extra at the end of the year, after the net profits had been calculated.

I have mentioned the five advantages which, I believe, would accrue from this system, but some people might say: "That is all very well in theory, but how would it work out in practice?" I would like, therefore, to make clear that I am not speaking on this subject simply from theory. One reason why I am convinced that there is a lot to be said for this system, is that I have had practical experience of it. I have worked on a co-operative farm, and I think it is the only one in Ireland to be worked continuously on this system for almost 17 years. We started this system almost 17 years ago in County Galway on a farm of about 250 statute acres, including some timber and bog, which gave full-time employment to seven men, and while we have had our ups and downs and our difficulties, I can say, after those 16½ years, that the system has worked quite well. The workers all receive a fixed minimum wage and also a share of the profits in the form of a bonus half-yearly or yearly. I found that since the system started the workers gradually took more and more interest in their work, because they felt that every one of them had a personal interest in it, and that it was up to each one of them to do his best. The harder and the more efficiently they worked, the better the output, and the better it would be for themselves, and their fellow-workers. Under that system there is also a tendency for every man, not only to work efficiently himself, but to encourage his fellow-workers to work efficiently also, for if his fellow-worker does not do his work right the whole group will suffer.

Another advantage of the system is that it is a very democratic system. On the farm which we have worked under this system, everything is settled by majority vote, and the workers accept the majority ruling. We have a full meeting once a month or oftener if necessary, to discuss all the working of the farm. Subject to the amount of money which is available, it is left to the workers to decide the rate of wages, hours of work and conditions of employment.

Mr. Hayes

All by a free vote?

Yes. All by a free vote. The workers are sensible enough to realise that if they drew out too much in wages the concern would soon go bankrupt, so they always keep a reasonable amount in reserve. On our farm we have paid a wage slightly above the Agricultural Wages Board minimum wage, and, in addition, we have been able to give out bonuses every year, which have varied from year to year. They have improved considerably during the past two years, but there was a time when the bonuses were extremely small.

How much was it last year?

After paying wages 4/- per week higher than the agricultural rate, it was £10 10s. 0d. per man for seven men. The earnings of each man was, therefore, 8/- per week higher than the agricultural rate which, in County Galway, is about 1/2 an hour.

With regard to hours, in mid-winter they work a 45-hour week, that is in December and January when the days are short, apart from Sunday work. For the remainder of the winter they work a 48-hour week, and in summer 49½ hours. They decided of their own free will, by a majority vote, to work a six-day week in winter, and a five and a half-day week in summer, five days at nine hours a day and one at four and a half hours a day. But in hours the six days in winter are shorter than the five and a half in summer. When we were debating the question of half holidays some time ago in the Seanad, some Senators mentioned the difficulties. We recognise that a farm being different from an industry, cannot be closed down. Somebody must do the necessary work, but so long as there is goodwill and co-operation the half-holiday system works satisfactorily. Some take the half holiday on Saturday and some on Thursday, for obviously they cannot all take it on the same day, as men have to be there to milk the cows and other essential work. Similarly, the work that has to be done on Sundays is taken in turn, and shared.

I mentioned that when the animals were jointly owned one advantage was that if an animal died the loss was shared all round, and did not fall on one man, but I should like to emphasise that this does not mean that every animal must be jointly owned. On our farm each man, in addition to having a share in the jointly-owned animals, has some animals of his own. Each man has private ownership of his house and of some animals and a small amount of land which he works at his own discretion. Some of the land is worked jointly and some is worked individually and I see nothing inconsistent in that. With regard to individual owners working co-operatively in economic units, I think Senator Orpen will deal with that matter under his economic farm unit system.

Another advantage of co-operative ownership of live stock is that some small farmers often hesitate to employ a veterinary surgeon because the fee might seem rather large to them, but when there is a co-operative group the fee of the veterinary surgeon, like everything else, is shared and does not fall heavily on one man. On our farm we believe in utilising to the full the help that is given by the veterinary surgeon, and very often he can save the lives of animals. We are also very glad to avail of the advice of the agricultural instructors of the Department.

I would now like to suggest how such co-operative farms might be established. I believe that one way in which it could be done, would be for the Land Commission, when they do take over some large estate or farm, to let it on reasonable terms to a group who would be enthusiastic about working it co-operatively. I am informed that there was a group in Westmeath some years ago who wanted to do that, but who could not get the land to do it. I suggest that the Land Commission should purchase some estate when it comes on the market, or utilise some estate which they would be taking over, in any case, and, instead of dividing it up into a number of small holdings, that they should carry out the experiment of allowing an enthusiastic group work it on the co-operative system. Another experiment would be to try to find some farmers living near one another who would be willing to co-operate. I quite agree that that might be difficult, because while we may find a number scattered about the country who are willing to co-operate, we might not easily find two or three living next door to each other who would be very keen on co-operation. If, however, a group was to take over a farm or estate, one of the things they would probably need would be capital to work it. It is quite probable that men who would like to work on that system might not have sufficient capital. I think, therefore, to make the scheme a success, a sufficient amount of capital should be advanced to them on reasonable terms.

With regard to the economic farm unit system, I should mention, in addition to the fact that the idea was originated by Senator Orpen, that it is an idea that appeals to a good many people. Just to mention one example, ex-Senator Professor Joseph Johnston is a believer in the system also, and read a paper to the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland recently on that subject. A number of people, in fact, are interested in this system, and I think it deserves serious consideration. I think that all Parties in the House are unanimous that we should try to increase food production in this country, that we should try to increase agricultural output, and that we should try to get a better output per man-hour and, therefore, I think we should leave no stone unturned to achieve that aim. We ought to be willing to try any system which might bring about these desirable results. I put this motion, therefore, before you, and I believe that to encourage and facilitate—I do not say to compel—to encourage and facilitate the establishment of a small number of co-operative farms and farm units would be a very desirable experiment. The cost would not be great, and I am hopeful that the advantages which I have mentioned would far more than justify the initial outlay.

I wish formally to second the motion, and I reserve the right to speak afterwards.

I move:—

To delete all words after the word "farms" and substitute the following words: "For experimental and demonstration purposes with a view to the improvement of agricultural methods in general."

I listened very attentively to Senator Burke's statement. I quite agree with his sincerity and I appreciate the interest he takes in agriculture, generally, and what is done in the locality, but the House will notice the words of the motion, that is:—

"That the Government should encourage and facilitate the establishment of a small number of co-operative farms or co-operative farm units as an experiment with a view to the extension of either or both of these systems of farming if found to be satisfactory."

In the amendment I put down it should read: "Establish these farms for experimental and demonstration purposes with a view to the improvement of agricultural methods in general". That is where the difference between the two arises, as the House will observe. Senator Burke visualises a general extension of the co-operative method of farming in general, and that is where the objection comes in. Senator Burke has not explained how this method of co-operative farming can be extended to cover the small holdings, to include small holdings. As we know, the whole basis of agriculture in this country rests on private ownership, on peasant proprietorship as it was called. In fact, only for that private ownership, the ownership of small farms, and the love of the land ingrained in the Irish people, it would have been impossible to retain the human element at all during the periods that have passed. We must not forget that. As regards co-operative farms, these co-operative farms, farms attached to co-operative societies are actually in operation in several places in the South. Co-operative dairy societies have purchased farms with a view to experimenting on various phases of agriculture. In one place they are experimenting on dairy cattle, in another place they are experimenting on milking machines to see if it would be possible to have them replace hand milking. In other places they have experimented with pig feeding and various things for the benefit of their suppliers on the local farms without any intention of extending it beyond the actual farm. It is suggested that this should be encouraged, but when I think over it, I do not see exactly what encouragement the Government can give, because these societies, if they have initiative enough to purchase these farms, will not require any Government assistance, and they have not asked for it.

Therefore, I think, I would rather agree with Senator Counihan's amendment that the Government should set up a small number of farms under the guidance of the Department of Agriculture with a view to testing out in the locality the different problems associated with agriculture in that locality. I, therefore, withdraw my own amendment in favour of Senator Counihan's in that respect. To come back to the principal motion, the objection that would be taken to it is that it seems to aim at the elimination of private ownership in land and, thereby, in these small holdings. On that ground, I think we should take a firm stand against anything which would tend to eliminate private ownership in land. It may be, that in time to come, owing to the development of machinery, to a decrease of population, and a change in the way of living, farms may tend to become larger. We cannot help that, but it is our duty to maintain the present system as long as ever it can possibly be maintained for the general good of the country.

Senator Burke has pointed out the difficulty of working small farms on account of the small acreage, the difficulty of providing machinery, raising cattle and all that. Well, as far as I can see, with a reasonable co-operative spirit the difficulty of these small farms can be overcome. During the recent emergency co-operative creameries in the South got in machinery which tilled the land for all their farmers, and especially the farmers who had no machinery of their own. They provided everything that the co-operative system could provide, and the small farmer was enabled to till his land as effectively as the man who had machinery of his own.

I believe that system could be developed and that the provision of agricultural machinery would make it easier to work the land, particularly on small farms, than is at present the case. It also enables production per acre to be increased. It is quite possible, of course, that the Land Commission could set aside an area and work through a co-operative society such as Senator Burke describes. No doubt, it would be a great thing to overcome the disadvantage which the small farmer suffers through not having machinery. I do not think that the type of farm which is suggested in the motion would be suitable in this country. It may come in the near future, but it is our duty now to keep it back as far as we possibly can. In the meantime, by the development of co-operation, each farmer would be able to maintain his own way of life, and his ownership of his own land, the small farmers combining together, while retaining the system of private ownership with great benefit to the country.

Senator Counihan's motion is to come before you.

Before the debate proceeds, I would like to ask a question, if I might, of Senator Burke, for the information of the House.

It is not a point of order. You can put your question later. I am calling on Senator Counihan.

I move:—

That in the opinion of Seanad Éireann the Government should set up and operate a small number of experimental farms in different parts of the country for the information and guidance of persons engaged in the farming industry.

This motion was originally put down as an amendment to Senator Burke's motion, but it is now being moved as an independent motion. My object in tabling is was to urge on the Government that if any money or facilities were given for experimental purposes, those experiments should be carried out by the Department of Agriculture under one of their experts, otherwise the experiment would be useless. If my motion is adopted, I believe it would give a true picture of the position of agriculture in this country. It would help to put a stop to the gross and misinformed statements about the enormous profits made by the farmers and about the miserable wages paid to the agricultural workers.

I am sure the result will prove that 50 per cent. of the farmers of this country have a less return for their work than is paid to an agricultural worker for the same number of hours. Of course, it has been proved on many occasions that farmers are not getting the same remuneration for the amount of the work they do as is paid to an agricultural worker at present, but it has been proved by two experts in Roscommon and in parts of Cork and Limerick that the amount of profits which the farmers got was in no sense compensation for the amount of work they put into their farms and the number of hours they worked. Of course, the Minister does not believe that.

That was before the Minister's time.

There is no use in anyone trying to throw dust in the farmers' eyes. I am sure that Senator Burke did not salt his accounts. He has told us that after paying seven men and a managing director on a farm of 250 acres, the whole amount left over, after paying the agricultural wage, was £10 a man for the year, which amounted to 4/- a week each when it was divided between the eight farmers employed by Senator Burke.

That statement was made by the Senator here and it was made further. It was repeated to an English Sunday paper and the same paper published his belief that it was a great record to pay a little over the agricultural wage and have £10 per man per year on a 250 acre farm. If that is all the hope he is able to hold out for co-operation, I do not know what to say.

He did not lose on it anyway.

If he lost, it would be a very poor outlook for the agricultural worker and for the railway people whom the Senator sometimes prefers.

They are different.

There is another case which will probably shock the Minister and some of the Labour, perhaps I should say the Socialist representatives, in the House.

Be careful!

We believe there should be audited accounts of the Portrane Mental Hospital farm. They employ about 60 agricultural workers there and get a certain amount of help free from some of the sane or semi-sane patients. But even a gallon of milk on that farm was 3/-.

It has nothing to do with the motion.

Three shillings per gallon is the figure given in the audited accounts.

Portrane has nothing to do with the motion before the House.

This is the motion I am discussing. If the farms which I have proposed are set up, it will show the true picture of the position of agriculture in the country, and it will show that it is not in a very prosperous condition, much as the Minister and some of the other people talk about the high profits which we are making, and which is very disappointing, seeing that it is said that we do not pay our agricultural workers a reasonable wage. I want to show that the farmers are paying agricultural workers as much as they can afford and more than they get themselves.

Is this in order? I submit that it is entirely out of order. We are not discussing wages——

Or anything else. We are discussing experimental and co-operative farming, and everything else about farmers, but not wages or Portrane.

May I respectfully submit that Senator Counihan's motion raises the issue of the merits of demonstration farms? The Senator, in my respectful submission, is raising the question of how far demonstration farms demonstrate, and I will have to ask your indulgence to cover some of that ground when I am replying.

Very well, if the Minister does not like it I will stop.

On the contrary, Senator, I am defending you.

Coming back to the motion, I think we are entitled to discuss these motions in a broad way.

With regard to Senator M. O'Dwyer's amendment, there are a few people in this House who are co-operative mad and they jump at anything to which you apply the word "co-operative". I have a little experience, not very much, of co-operative activity and I can say that it is not always successful. In many cases, co-operative work is a very good thing but sometimes we can have too much of a good thing. There is one case in that connection which the Minister will possibly know, the co-operative bacon factory in Castlebar. That factory was being worked for the farmers and farmers' money was in it.

And not as a co-operative farm.

It was worked on the co-operative system and it was worked until they lost every shilling, and they had to call in——

It is not a farm, I must remind the Senator, and has nothing to do with collective farming. Perhaps the Senator will keep to the farms.

I am blocked on every road. I do not agree with Senator Burke's proposal with regard to co-operative farming, and one of the ideas I had in mind in putting down my motion was that it should be a counterblast to his motion, in which, in my view, there is neither sense nor meaning. We have heard about the seven or eight men who were paid their £3 a week and about the £10 bonus, but how they can have a divide of a bonus on farming or know what it is going to pay until the year is up I cannot understand. It cannot be done, because you do not know what return you will have from your crops or whether you will be able to reap them or save them at all. In that job he says that Senator Orpen, his other farming expert, is going to wipe the floor with me for daring to oppose co-operative farming. I have a great regard for Senator Burke. He is a great idealist and one could almost put him down as a modern Abou Ben Adem. I do not want to oppose his motion with any strong words and, as I am blocked in regard to the other matters, I propose to sit down.

I formally second the motion, reserving the right to speak later.

I venture to trespass on the time of the Seanad at this stage of the debate because I think it is desirable to make quite clear the Government's view on the proposal enshrined in the motion proposed by Senator Burke and those associated with him. Before dealing precisely with the terms of that motion, I beg leave to refer to motion No. 11 and, if I may, in affection, to its proposer, Senator Counihan. It is the hallmark of a venerable Legislature to have among its legislators at least one revered figure who is regarded as the spokesman of two centuries ago. Whenever I hear my old and valued friend, Senator Counihan, speaking, I think of Colonel Saunderson of the British House of Commons and Viscount Chaplin of the British House of Lords.

Many years ago, these two old gentlemen slumbered in the smoke-room till they heard it whispered that a reference to Ireland had been made in either House of the British Parliament, whereupon they were to be seen at once steaming off at full speed in opposite directions, one to the Lords and the other to the Commons, to say that all Irish were cut-throats, that Ireland ought to be kept down and that were it not for the British occupation of Ireland, the Irish would have all killed one another long ago. Whenever any question arises in this or the House below of raising agricultural wages, or in fact of making any movement forward, backwards, to the left or to the right in agriculture, I am always comforted by the spectacle of Senator Counihan moving into the fray to say that he greatly deplores that the workhouse on the road north from the City of Dublin has been closed because he seriously apprehends that every farmer in North County Dublin will shortly want a workhouse into which to retire. They are all dying of starvation, poverty and bankruptcy; they cannot pay anybody anything; and they do not make a profit on anything and never have, or, if they did, it was by mistake. But I am happy to note in that distinguished prop of Irish agriculture, Senator Counihan, than whom few men in this country have served agriculture better, a prosperous, comfortable and richer man than most of us know. Long may he remain so, because every penny he has he earned well, and, in earning it, I do not doubt, be stowed an ample share on those less industrious than he.

I do not believe that Senator Counihan himself really believes in what his own motion advocates, but that, as he tells us, without much regard to what the motion meant, it was a general countermining operation against Senator Burke, with the aid of which he proposed to detonate a land mine under Senator Burke if that Senator got too frisky. To suggest that we should establish experimental colleges and stations in this country, where we have Clonakilty, Athenry, Ballyhaise, Grange, Johnstown, the Albert Agricultural College, the Munster Institute and Brownsbarn—not to mention some others—is so frisky a piece of amnesia that I do not believe the Senator was really guilty of it. He merely conveniently chose to ignore it. If the Senator's motion is to be read as a request from him that the Department of Agriculture should set up demonstration farms operated by the inspectors of my Department, I can well imagine that, if ever I were betrayed into such a folly, the first farmer to come and lean over the gate and break his heart laughing at me would be Senator Counihan, and the first man to say with emphasis and effect that a demonstration farm run with the capital of the Treasury by a civil servant, in conditions which are not comparable with those obtaining in any commercial farm in Ireland, was perfectly useless, would be Senator Counihan.

In so far as his demarche has discomfited Senator Burke and his colleagues, I am grateful to Senator Counihan for his countermining operations. I know he will excuse me from pursuing the content of his motion in its literal text any further, because I do not believe he meant a word of what the text said; and he can do his countermining quite effectively without any help from me. That he has already demonstrated.

Now, when I come to Senator Burke's proposal, let me say at once how stimulating and good it is that we should have raised here or in the Dáil propositions of a new character for discussion, how grateful I am to Senator Burke for putting matters of this kind at issue, though I most profoundly and irreconcilably differ from him in the underlying philosophy and in the practical application of the idea which he has described. A difference of opinion can be useful. I want to differ as radically from Senator Burke as it is possible to differ from any man in regard to this proposal. Most of us in this Oireachtas were reared in the atmosphere and tradition of the Land League. The Land League was established in this country to ensure for our people the three F's—Fixity of Tenure, Freedom of Sale and Fair Rent. In the course of the struggle to get these things, our people discovered that there could be no half measures, that you either owned your home or you did not own your home; and we made up our minds that our people would own their homes.

As the Senator remembers quite as well as I do, our people found themselves confronted with what many people thought insuperable odds. The odds were formidable, but not insuperable; and the only thing that gave our people the power to overcome the forces arraigned against them was not their wealth, not their armament, nothing but their resolution that, whatever the cost, they were going to own their homes. I think they were right then; I think they are right now; and I would be sorely tempted to disown my son if he ever reneged on that principle. The right to own your own home is the foundation of the whole pattern of our rural life. The idea of owning your own home on the tenant principle with a multitude of others, is, to me, utterly revolting I fully appreciate that Senator Burke does not envisage, and has not envisaged, the picture of eight separate families inhabiting one house. He sees eight comfortable homes built all round the common farm. But he will find very few people in Ireland who think of their homes as a house and no more. That is what so many people forget, when they compare what may be done in a man's shop or in a man's factory or a man's workshop with what may be done upon his farm. The difference is that every square inch of a farmer's farm is his home. The manufacturer, the shopkeeper or the artisan keeps home as home and works in his place of business whence he comes home.

For a farmer, his farm is the place whither he goes home. It is nothing new, you know, this concept of communal farming. Mr. Vandeleur tried it out in Clare 120 years ago and it worked for several years. We will never know whether it would have gone on working or not, because it came to an end when Mr. Vandeleur, losing rather more money on the Derby than he ought to have, became insolvent and left the country and his estate was sold up. It is being tried elsewhere as well. I challenge any Senator to tell me of any place where it was tried and long survived, without the sanction of the prison or the gallows behind it. Search the world for a single experiment of co-operative farming on the lines suggested by Senator Burke—and there have been many—which survived two generations without the shadow of a prison or a gallows to hold it together. I know of none, and I do not think there ever will be one, because that kind of life, that kind of denial of individual responsibility, that implied rejection of a man's ultimate responsibility by his own efforts, unaided, to provide for the wife he has married and the family he has brought into the world, seems to me quite inconsistent with the natural law which ultimately controls the lives of us all.

Senator Burke is so frank a man and so apparently honest a man that he has not hesitated to describe to us, with manifest veracity, his own precise experience in such an experiment in Galway.

I heard the old familiar wolves giving tongue, thirsting for his blood. It did not sound a great achievement— £3 a week, even perhaps £2 15s., plus a £10 annual bonus, from an area of land which would have given each of the men employed a 30-acre farm. Nobody within ten miles of the town where I was born and raised has 30 acres of land. Most of them have done pretty well on ten. Those who have 30 come to Mass on Sundays in a rubber-tyred trap. They will be coming in a baby Ford pretty soon. Does the Senator think that £2 15s. a week plus an annual bonus of £10 is a distinguished economic achievement?

May I just say that the rate we pay is 5/- above the agricultural rate, plus £10 per annum, which would be 8/- a week above the agricultural rate? May I mention that to make the matter clear? I know it is not much. A lot of the land is very poor.

I want to say how genuinely indebted we are to the Senator for giving us the true facts.

He is being turned down all round.

As Senator O'Farrell interjects, little thanks he gets for doing it. I think he gets the best thanks of all, that is, the respect of those who disagree with him. He would not wish us to dissimulate assent to things from which we most vigorously dissent. I do not think the Senator would wish us to forbear from adverse criticism of the result of his adventure, if we have adverse criticism to make. I am putting it to him that, according to the criteria of the part of Ireland from which he and I come, if men have 30 acres of their own and a house, they would be disappointed, I think, with that return.

Ask Senator Counihan. They lose far more on it.

How valuable a testimonial for Senator O'Farrell is Senator Counihan.

He represents the agricultural industry.

Most nobly, but practical things are rarely noble. The last thing anyone would say of Senator Counihan is that he is utilitarian and, in this context, he most emphatically is not. Senator Burke would justify co-operative farms on several grounds. The first is efficiency. Why stop at co-operative farms? If you have 200 acres with seven co-operators thereon, will not 1,000 acres with 35 co-operators be probably more efficient? What is the point of maximum efficiency given the requisite mechanisation? Does the Senator truly suggest that, from any point of view, it would be desirable to break up the land of Ireland into blocks designed only by the crude finger of efficiency? It would make rural Ireland a pretty dreary place. I think efficiency can be bought at too great a price. If that is the price of efficiency, God grant that our people may be inefficient till the crack of doom. I do not think it is the price of efficiency but, if it were, I would curse the day that we attained it.

The second advantage he saw was the abolition of the inability to use farm machinery on a small holding. Is he serious? Does not the Senator agree with me that a modern tractor is usable on a field far smaller than any which was susceptible to cultivation with a horse and plough? I have seen a Ferguson tractor plough and harrow a field up to the hedge, into which you could not have fitted the pair of horses and a plough tackled together, and make a very neat job of it.

His third justification was that to work co-operatively for the common good is better than to work for one's own and that if one man be ill the other members of the co-operative will take up his share of the burden. Senator Burke must know as well as or better than I that neighbours in rural Ireland are not as distant from one another as that argument would imply. Has he ever known a small farmer's crop to go unsaved or a small farmer's beast to die for want of attention because the man of the house was ill? I do not think he has. Certainly, in my part of the country, however poor, however hard pressed themselves, neighbours would never see a neighbour suffer for that reason, and I think, on reflection, Senator Burke will agree that that would be the rule in most parts of Ireland.

The next advantage he saw was the sharing of profits and losses. The sharing of profits, the Senator says, is a good thing, but think of the value of sharing the loss. What am I supposed to do, a Chathaoirligh, when I am in full cry and there is a division in the Dáil?

To facilitate the Minister, could we not allow him to go to his division and carry on the discussion in the meantime?


I am glad that the three Senators who have proposed the motions and the amendment have given us scope for a very interesting discussion. Candidly, I am opposed to all the motions, although I seconded Senator Counihan's motion for the purpose of putting him in order. I was not quite clear as to what Senator Burke meant when he spoke to the motion in his name. I could not really gather whether he meant that it was a co-operative farm or a profit-sharing farm. He did not enunciate whether the farm was owned co-operatively or whether the farm just employed seven workers who were paid the ordinary wage and shared the profits afterwards. There is a difference between a co-operatively-owned and a profit-sharing farm. While one might be opposed absolutely to a co-operatively-owned farm, there might be something to be said for profit sharing among workers. I daresay that there are numerous employers in the country who pay their men an average wage and something more and at the end of the year, at Christmas perhaps, if they have had a good year, without any obligation whatsoever, they pass on bonuses and share the profits with their employees. It is quite a common thing.

With regard to experimental and demonstration purposes, I agree with the Minister that there are numerous farms in the country already under Government ægis where experiments are carried on and they are the proper place for experimentation. It is after the experimental stage that the farmer becomes really interested. If, by demonstration farm, it is meant that the Minister should set up farms here and there all over the country to demonstrate some of the experiments which have been carried out and proved to the satisfaction of the Government, something might be said for it, but I am opposed to the idea of demonstration farms unless, with demonstration, you couple the word "profit". I believe that if it were possible to set up here and there, in every county, perhaps, a number of farms carried on by the Government—not as the Minister said by a civil servant, because I do not believe a civil servant is generally the proper man to run a farm, but one can easily envisage that it would be possible to get some Government nominee with actual knowledge of farming to run it on the lines the Department suggested — and if a balance sheet were issued at the end of the year's working showing a profit, then I daresay more farmers would follow the particular practice advocated by the Government through that means than through any other. To arrange for experiments to be carried out and demonstrated afterwards on a farm run on extravagant lines without any regard to the cost will have no influence on intelligent farmers. I am opposed to both propositions, but if one could have a farm set up to demonstrate new materials or experiments which were carried out, say, at Glasnevin, showing that such a farm could be worked at a profit, it would be all to the good.

The question arises of individual ownership. I agree with Senator O'Dwyer and the Minister that anything that purported to do away with individual ownership would be disastrous in this country. The Irishman does not lend himself to co-operation when it becomes a question of sharing his home life. I do not think you could compel any number of Irishmen to share their ownership of land with anybody. It is something inherent in them and it will not ever be possible to have co-operation on those lines. The Minister said that he did not believe that co-operation proved a success anywhere. I do not think it did. In my long experience of farming I only knew one case where co-operative farming was carried out to a large extent and it was among a Russian sect in Canada. The Government gave them a tract of land and they worked it co-operatively. There was no such thing as individual ownership of machinery. There was no rent to pay in Canada and practically no rates and I daresay it showed a profit, but there was always a suspicion in the minds of these people, who were mostly uneducated people, that somebody was making something out of the particular experiment in co-operative ownership. I am referring to Saskatchewan 50 or at least 40 years ago. In co-operation as in anything else, there has to be some head or manager. You cannot run a co-operative business with everyone as boss. In this place a man named Verigin was the manager. Verigin became a rich man. In fact, he became so rich that there was a town called after him and I suppose it is called after him still. They all came to the conclusion that eventually you cannot beat private ownership and I do not think you could beat it in this country any more than in any other. Having said so much, I do not want anybody to infer that the Irish farmer is not open to conviction, that his ways cannot be improved, or that he could not make much more profit and increase production. The Government could help, and is helping in that direction.

Senator O'Dwyer referred to co-operative farming among creameries, but it is not really co-operative farming. It is more or less co-operative individualism, if you could use the term. When the creameries buy a farm it is not co-operation. It is run by one man; the manager, if he is an able man, runs it in the name of the creamery society. It is not at all tantamount to the idea advocated by Senator Burke of a co-operative farm and I could not find a better term than co-operative individualism. The creameries are a success because they are not hampered by a big number of owners. I suppose essentially all creamery suppliers are really owners, but not one bothers his head about it. They do not think twice of the matter. They only know that a certain sum of their money is invested in a farm and that it is run generally at a profit. Most of the ones I know have made money and are useful in that way.

The last point I want to make is that raised by Senator Counihan, the question of profit on a farm. I do not say that farmers never made any profit. If they never did, they would not be in existence now. They existed all the time through bad and good years. But for the Minister to say that every tenacre farmer in County Galway has a rubber-tyred trap and that soon every 20-acre farmer will have a rubber-tyred motor car is rather stretching things too much. There is only one way of proving this and no Minister in this State has ever got down to it yet and I do not suppose that any Minister ever will because Ministers as a rule, and their advisers, do not take chances. The farmers take chances. Having listened to all the solutions, I made my own suggestion that the only solution is a demonstration farm run on a profit basis. If the Minister, as I said, will set up in every county, or in every second county, a farm run on modern scientific lines with all the suggestions made by the officials of the Department and proper accounts kept of that particular farm, and if at the end of the year or two years—I think the farmers would be glad to give him two years' start so that he would get used to it—just to work himself in—I think we would all be glad to give him two years of a chance, but after that, if every year a profit was shown on that farm worked scientifically with all modern developments, I would make bold to say there are not five farmers in this country who would not follow suit. Until the Government and their advaisers take some such action it is idle for the Minister, his officials or anybody else to come into the Seanad or Dáil to tell me or any other farmer who knows his job that the farmers over the last 25 years have been making extravagant profits, because they have not.

I think Senator Burke is to be congratulated on putting down this motion, and because of the sort of approach that is being made to it in certain quarters, I feel that it requires a great deal of hardihood on his part. I think it is very important, very valuable, to have the sort of discussion on this problem that we have had from Senator Burke himself, and to have the facts presented to the House as they have been by him. I may say that I am a whole-hearted co-operator. I believe in the principle of co-operation in production, processing and marketing of agricultural produce. I think it is possible to extend this principle within very narrow limits, but what I want to say about the motion is, that while Senator Burke refers to it as an experiment in co-operation, I think the truth is that it is an experiment with human nature. That is the real problem. In fact, that is the great problem. Senator Burke has achieved a great deal himself on his own farm. He was an altruist. He is prepared to organise his farm production policy on this co-operative basis and he was there himself to lead the way. He introduced and cultivated the spirit of co-operation on his farm. Now, that, I think, is the great factor that should make for success in any such venture, but I think our problem in regard to the handling of the land of this country has to be approached from the point of view of a land utilisation angle, the full utilisation of the land of the country. When Senator Burke speaks of the establishment of a small number of co-operative farm units as an experiment, I am confronted with the difficulty of how you are to get these units. If you take the existing farms, you have all the difficulties of differences in areas, the quality of the land and all that sort of thing. I just cannot see how you are going to get into a co-operative group one farmer with 160 acres, a farmer with 20 acres, a farmer with 25 acres, one of the farms carrying a beast to the acre, and the other carrying three beasts to the acre. I just cannot visualise how we can organise a group of existing farmers on a co-operative basis where the difference in soil, in value of the soil, and in size of the farms was as great as that, and so it would seem that you can only approach this problem from the point of view of the land that still remains to be redistributed in the country. The larger farms that are there, or a number of them will, possibly, be taken over by the Land Commission in the next few years.

Now, when you come up to them, what do you find? You find the policy of the Government, as far as it has been enunciated, to be the redistribution of this land on the basis of making economic holdings out of uneconomic farms as they exist at the moment. You find the policy of men being transplanted from Mayo to Meath, from Cavan to Westmeath, and a man with a farm of 50 acres in one of these counties getting a 30 or 35 acre farm in Meath or Westmeath. You find a number of people from different districts being grouped together as neighbours, people who have never known each other before, who have never met, with a different approach to the problem of farming, and a slightly different outlook on life. I think you would have real difficulty in trying to hammer these people into a co-operative unit without the kind of spirit that exists on Senator Burke's farm. These seem to be the practical difficulties that confront one in the acceptance or the making operative of the idea of Senator Burke's motion. I am not anything like as alarmed as the Minister appears to be, at the co-operativisation of agricultural production from the point of view of combining a number of farms or getting a number of farmers to work together in a unit. I think myself that it takes a much greater living example of the true Christian spirit to work together in the kind of way that people in Senator Burke's farm have to farm, than it does under the conditions where each of us will get our own way. Naturally, where men and women, probably, too, are thrown very closely together, as they must be on this venture of Senator Burke's, there has to be a subordination of individual desires. There has to be a toleration of the point of view of the other. There has to be an effort to understand the point of view of the other and the spirit to combine together, sometimes in a project with which you may be slightly dissatisfied because you have not absolute confidence, and because you cannot absolutely believe in its success. You have to subordinate your private desires, and I must say, that I think it takes a very fine type of christian to do that sort of thing. I commend what is being done by Senator Burke and his colleague. I have not been down there, but I am quite sure it must be a good example of a spirit that we could have much more of, with advantage to agriculture, and to the country as a whole.

It is stated that the earnings on Senator Burke's farm, despite the fact that it is on a co-operative basis, are not higher than the wage level that is enjoyed by the agricultural workers—I think the Minister pointed to the fact that farms of 30 acres in his own county would give a higher standard of living than this—but I just wonder how many farms in this country of 30 acres, where the owners will only work five and a half days a week, will give earnings that are being obtained in Senator Burke's farm. Quite frankly in my judgement, and I have quite a lot of experience, the man who talks of having a five and a half-day working week, and hopes to enjoy a fair standard of living at that, is not facing up to the realities of the situation at all. My experience is that it is a much longer day, and I would say that these people are actually working an eight-or nine-hour day. I would like to ask Senator Burke if that is so.

Mr. Burke

Yes, nine hours.

Most of the people working on farms are not only working a seven-day week, but 12 or 14 hours a day instead of nine hours. It is an important aspect of the case presented by Senator Burke, and in justice the House should be made conscious of it. I am not anything like as alarmed as the Minister appears to be at the dangers that would follow the denying of the right of the individual. I do not regard it as a practicable proposition. We have to face the problem of how people are to combine to achieve the fullest utilisation of our land resources. As the land is distributed to-day, it does not seem to me to be a practicable proposition to hammer the farmers, as they are, into co-operative units. The great difficulty I see is that men are going to go on these farms on the basis of what they have given up on the farms they owned before. With regard to experimentation, either from the point of view of the amendment of Senator O'Dwyer or the motion of Senator Counihan, I have only this to say: In regard to Senator O'Dwyer's amendment, what is the point in our doing experimental demonstrations with a view to the improvement of agricultural methods on the basis of co-operation, unless we are going to spread, unless it is going to be the example of what the future is going to be? I do not think that we are going to have these co-operative farms, and so demonstration on that basis would not be true to the possibilities of farming in the country.

With regard to the motion of Senator Counihan and to what Senator Bennett has said, I think I agree with the Minister. I do not think it is worth a brass farthing to agriculture in this country to get the most efficient College of Science people, and put them on an experimental farm owned by the State. We see what is being done in various parts of the country, at Ballyhaise, Clonakilty and Athenry and elsewhere. What is the comment of all the farmers who go there or to the Albert College? They say, "Oh, yes, the State owns that. There is no shortage of capital. They can put in all the machines they like, get the stock breeds they like and all sorts of equipment and receive all the scientific knowledge that there is." If we are going to have demonstration farms of any value, the demonstrating must be done on an ordinary farm.

Hear, hear.

That is my conviction. Let the College of Science come to me, let them go to the ordinary farmer in the country and go in with all the equipment available to them for agriculture. Let them demonstrate on an ordinary farm, working the ordinary hours that have to be worked, that they can do better with scientific knowledge than with our present methods. In my opinion, that is what we have to do, and I think that ought to be done, especially in view of the scheme which the Minister has inaugurated in the land rehabilitation project. I believe there is scope in that. There is no doubt whatever in the minds of any of us who understand agriculture, that a great deal of the land of the country as it is to-day, is in a desolate condition, and no experimental farm would be a fair index of a reasonably high level of efficiency, because the land is sick and neglected and, in the condition in which it is, you could not do justice to any experiment. You have now got an opportunity to put the land right under the land rehabilitation project, and when you have got health back to the land, we can start. The land is like an animal or like a man. There is no use in taking out a half-starved horse at the end of the winter and putting him to plough. He will not be able to do a good day's work until you give him more oats and feed him up. By the time you have finished your ploughing, he will then be able to do a good day's work. There are a great many of the horses of the country like that and it is the same with the land. The Minister is going to give health back to the land. When he does, we can do experimental work on it—that is where it ought to be done. I know that it is part of the Minister's policy to engage on that type of enterprise.

I think that Senator Burke is to be congratulated on his courage in putting down this motion and especially to be congratulated on the spirit he has himself displayed in his venture in County Galway. I think he will recognise— perhaps he is too good a Christian to associate with most of us—that his project does not mean experimenting with land; it is experimenting with human nature. Unless you have a group of people with a right spirit to come together voluntarily and to abandon their liberty and pool their resources, and the conditions that are created by the pooling of those resources are acceptable to all and they pull together, it would be quite impossible. I frankly confess I do not rate human nature as highly as Senator Burke, and I am afraid there is too much selfishness and it would be too easy to stir up dissatisfaction and cause the group to break up again. What the result would be in the end I do not know. I think that Senator Burke has done the House a very good service.

Does the Minister wish to conclude?

If I might conclude now, I will not trespass long on the Seanad's time. When I left I had touched on the last of the points raised by Senator Burke to recommend his system. I agree with Senator Baxter that Senator Burke is to be congratulated in bringing this matter before the Seanad. Nevertheless, I warn him that unless my hand has lost its cunning, I discern, partly by tactile sense, that Senator Burke will hear the word "Russia" before this debate is over. Nobody will call him a Bolshevik, but he will find himself in imminent danger of having that implied. There are specious grounds—specious grounds—for drawing comparisons between his suggestion and the collective farms of the Communist system. The danger is that Senator Burke dreams of a communal farm in the air of freedom. The communal farm of the Soviet system is that which lingers under the shadow of the gaol and the scaffold. I think that the best test of the value of Senator Burke's motion is the admission of the feeling all of us have that it is not enough simply to say that his is a bad idea, and I think his idea is about as bad as an idea could be, without satisfying him and the Seanad that we have a better one. I would be ashamed to dissent from the Senator as emphatically as I do were I not in a position to make a humble submission of a modest idea.

I think the proper alternative method of meeting the ideal the Senator desires to serve is the parish plan. Far from desiring to see any individual farmer in any parish qualified in his ownership of his land, I have charged him to keep watch and ward beside his gate and to throw anybody out who tries to come in unbidden, including the Minister for Agriculture and all the officers of his Department. I hope that, in each group of three parishes where a parish agent will function, he will have the benefit of the collaboration of a parish council representative of all the people in the parish, and, to me, one of the most distinguished and distinguishing marks of Muintir na Tíre, which has been responsible for organising most parish councils at present in existence, is the virtual universal appearance on the platform and the executive of every parish council of all ministers of religion attached to the parish.

It is something peculiarly welcome in our part of Ireland to see Christian men of every confession collaborating for the common good, without in any sense reneging on their own conviction as to the right way to do homage to God. I think it is a good thing to associate with the pedestrian business of earning your living the spiritual centre of your life, the parish church, whether it is the Protestant Church, or, what is for me the true church, the Catholic Church, or the Presbyterian or Methodist place of meeting. I conceive that to have a value exceeding any material advantage, though I can well understand a few of those who would say: "What have spiritual values of this kind got to do with the political heads of public departments?" I think that is a legitimate point of view. It is not mine, because I think you cannot integrate life at all, if you do not recognise the various fractions of which the whole is composed.

In addition to that, shall I say, numinous value of the parish plan, it has the practical advantage that it surmounts the difficulty which has confronted Senator Burke of making machinery and relatively expensive equipment available to the small individual farmer, because I would hope that the parish agents, working in collaboration with the parish councils, would help in developing parish or three parish units of suitable machinery which, through the parish council, could be made available in due rotation to the various small farmers who wish to avail of the service. I know there will be cynics who will say at once: "You could not do that in rural Ireland. Everyone would want the tractor and the plough on the same day." To these people I reply: "There is no use in saying you cannot do it. I am going to do it right here and now." That there will be difficulties, that there will be failures, that there will be complete breakdown, I know perfectly well, but if three out of every ten are attended with success from the date of their initiation, I will consider the achievement to have been most distinguished. We have not waited to foresee every difficulty, to provide for every contingency, to think of every possible handicap and set back in order to make provision for all these things before we set forth on the campaign. I would ask Senators not to be too critical of flaws in the initial stages of the land rehabilitation project, of the parish plan, of the domestic water supply schemes because there will be flaws, and there will be flaws not through any fault or lack of prescience on the part of officers of my Department. There will be these faults because I would not wait for all these possibilities to be foreseen, because I knew that if I did, we would all be old men and women or in our graves before anything at all was done. We know where we are going and we have not got the slightest doubt that, with the help of those of our people who are of good will, we will get over any of the initial difficulties.

We dare to believe that in the parish scheme which we plan to operate we have at last the rural answer to the materialist dialectic, that we have the rural answer to the proposition that efficiency, maximum economic production, are the only criteria by which men should live, and that out of the parish plan we can demonstrate that there is such a generic name as happiness, which comprises modest prosperity, a decent sense of duty, the will to work honestly, a sense of responsibility and gratitude to God for the privilege of owning your own home and a realisation that no one is likely to grow rich in rural Ireland, and that, if it is riches they are after, the sooner they clear out to New York, to Manchester, to London or to Johannesburg, the quicker they will realise their ambition of being very unhappy men. If they want to be happy, if they want to have the best life that any country in the world to-day can offer a good man, they will recognise themselves as members of a very select society, the parish, where they can never be insignificant again, where they can never feel again that it does not matter whether they do their best or their worst. There they can never feel again, as people who live in great cities of the world feel, that if they were to vanish like a puff of smoke in the air, no one would ever know that they had been born, no one would ever know that they had disappeared, the social unit to which they belong would never even falter for their disappearance.

They will know that their presence or their absence in the social unit to which they belong makes a real difference, that if they do their best, they can make of their farm, as Senator Baxter has so aptly said, the real demonstration farm, a farm which will stop people on the road as they drive through, to envy the parish which has in it a man who can make so much of so little. On the other hand, if they are lazy and feckless and worthless, they will become the subject of reproach by their neighbours, who will resent this blot upon the parish effort. But be it reproach or be it admiration, they will never know the infinite loneliness of utter indifference. And it is those who wander in that wilderness who are the ready dupes of the materialist dialectic which offers them reintegration in a social unit where they are wanted, where there is work to do and where their failure or their success makes a difference to the Communist cell in which they are invited to participate.

Have Senators ever asked themselves how many lonely people in the world are lonely because they feel they do not any longer belong anywhere? Did they ever ask themselves why people join societies, why there is that constant trend in human society to gather together in the Rechabites, in the Hibernians, in the Foresters or in the hundred and one benevolent or social societies, all of which indicate the desire of the lonely to escape from loneliness. It is that knowledge that the dialectical materialist has so brilliantly capitalised in the assault on civilisation; and I think, perhaps, it is in the modest Irish rural parish that we can find the answer. That is what I am looking for, in any case.

I accept with enthusiasm Senator Baxter's definition of a demonstration farm. There is no use demonstrating, as he says, the unlimited capital of the State, what can be done by a graduate in agriculture, with the implements that all the money in the Treasury can command, on a 20-acre farm in County Mayo—because, rightly, the neighbours say: "What has that got to do with me?" But if the parish agent attains to the dignity of being the friend of those he serves and can demonstrate to neighbours that one of their number, accepting his advice, and putting into practice himself the knowledge which scientific research has revealed and which is now communicated to him by a technical expert, can make his farm twice as productive as it heretofore has been, there are very few farmers in Ireland who will not follow that example. I have no hesitation in saying that as to 80 per cent. of the land of this country we can double its productivity. If we succeed, we shall increase our agricultural exports by 40 per cent. That is the modest aim of the agricultural policy of this Government.

Lastly, I want to say this. I think it is foolish to shrug our shoulders and dismiss from our minds the possibility of bringing within the reach of a small farmer—I mean a 30-acre farmer—for his own use, modern appliances. I can never reconcile myself to the belief that because men live on the land in Ireland they must submit permanently to the gross affront to the dignity of human nature that they shall be compelled to deny themselves two-thirds of the legitimate value of their labour, because the implements they use are inefficient. In my submission, the implements of modernity enable an honest worker to-day to produce three times as much as he can produce with elementary equipment. If a 30-acre farmer to-day could purchase for himself a 10-h.p. tractor, a single-furrow tractor plough, a harrow, and a power-driven mowing machine, would he not be fairly well equipped, according to existing standards? If he could get it all for £350, with five years to pay, is it unthinkable that he should reach upon it? Would it not be cheaper than keeping a pair of horses? Do Senators consider that impossible? They should not. I hope I am going to see it some day soon. Like many other of my hopes, they may be the fruit of excessive optimism. That is a politician's difficulty. He is sometimes afraid to shoot at stars for fear that if he does no more than lasso the moon he will be derided as a failure. I find that risk quite stimulating and, therefore, I have always delighted in keeping the Seanad informed. I have always been a little alarmed by the manifest incredulity on the faces of the Senators on my right. I have always been sustained by their enthusiastic rejoicing at my unexpected successes. I look forward to their plaudits if this dream comes to realisation. It is very like politics to speak thus but, then, I am a politician and very proud of that fact. It affords one the opportunity of doing things that I have always wanted to do.

I do not take the gloomy view about the small peasant proprietor. My people were peasant proprietors. My people were evicted. My people put back every evicted tenant in East Mayo. We do not regret it. We do not want to undo it. We treasure the right to our own holding more than anything else we have got and we are convinced that, given the opportunity, we can demonstrate that that system of land tenure will get from the land committed to our care a better living for us and our families than any other system of land tenure that can be imagined. And we are convinced that happy men living in their own home in dignity and peace will produce more for the nation they belong to than the most efficient body of servants that the most excellent system of collective farming can ever provide.

Níl fhios agam céard is ceart dom a dhéanamh i dtaobh na díospóireachta seo. Tá sé beagnach a deich a chlog. Is dóigh liom go dteastaíonn ó roinnt eile Seanadóirí labhairt ar na tairiscintí. Ar an ábhar sin, ní dóigh liom gur cheart moladh anois go gcuirfí deireadh leis an díospóireacht. An bhfuil sé intuigthe go mbeidh cead ag Seanadóirí labhairt ar na tairiscintí amáireach?

Beidh. Tá díospóireacht ar siúl sa Dáil agus b'fhearr leis an Aire dul ann. Más maith leis an Seanadóir Ó Buachalla, féadfaidh sé labhairt amáireach.

Is cuma liom. Tá mé lán tsásta más maith leis an Aire dul go dtí an Dáil.

Tá rún ar siúl sa Dáil mar gheall ar bhainne agus caithfidh mé imeacht.

I do not think the Seanad will have very much difficulty in making up its mind as to what it ought to do with regard to these matters. It is clear that we could not possibly accept the amendments because to accept them would simply be to admit that we know nothing of what has been happening in the country. The Minister mentioned a number of experimental farms that are already in existence. He did not give half the number. He mentioned Clonakilty, Athenry, and Ballyhaise. He did not refer to Pallaskenry, Warrenstown, Mountbellew, and so on. What is asked for in these amendments is already provided. Therefore, there seems to be very little point in discussing them.

To come then to the motion. Senator Baxter has declared that he is a co-operator. I, too, am a co-operator. I like very much the theory of co-operation. I am not so happy that we have achieved all the results that we were led to believe should flow from putting these theories into practice. I am in doubt as to the extent to which co-operation has been a success in the country. Certain results have been achieved, but I am afraid the price has been too high. This is not a new matter. I have said more than once that I would like to see the whole question of co-operation in Ireland investigated because it seems to me that we have lost sight of the real aims of co-operation and are not operating the real methods of co-operation.

Senator O'Dwyer hit the nail on the head when he said that we ought to go all out in defence of the system of individual ownership which we have. Theoretically, at any rate, I think it would be possible to get greater output under a system of co-operation or collective farming but again I fear that the price would be too high. There may be difficulties; there may be losses; standards may not be as high, under the system of individual ownership. As I have said more than once in the Seanad, there are things that are higher than material gain. I agree with that portion of the Minister's speech in which he dealt with the philosophy of life in rural Ireland. I am glad that he devoted so much time to it. It seems to me that there is no reason why we should ask the State to encourage and facilitate the establishment of a number of co-operative farms. Why should we ask the State to do that? There are two reasons why we should not, first there is a co-operative organisation in the State endowed to a considerable extent by the Government and endowed to some extent by private subscription and there is no earthly reason why that body, in view of its experience and wide knowledge of the country, of conditions and needs, should not undertake work of this kind if it thinks it should do so.

The second reason why I think the State should not interfere at all is because Senator Burke has carried out an experiment and I think he has pretty well advertised what he has done and achieved. He says that he has been at this for the past 16½ or 17 years. I know farmers in County Galway, East and West, and I have great admiration for what these men have achieved. I suppose that the finest farmers in the whole of Europe must be found in portions of North and East Galway and I think the finest farmers of all must be found amongst the rocks of Connemara. Men who have lived, reared families and succeeded as the people in Connemara have succeeded, are certainly something to boast of and they are people of whom we should be proud. It seems to me that there must be something radically wrong with Senator Burke's experiment if the farmers, looking at him and at what he believes to be a considerable measure of success, have not followed his example. As a matter of fact, I am inclined to doubt whether Senator Burke's experiment is an experiment in co-operation at all. The essence of co-operation would be, of course, co-operative ownership, and I wonder do these men working on these farms own this farm. If they do not, it seems to me that there is no use in talking of this as a co-operative experiment. He tells us of the wages he has paid, 5/- more than the standard wage. I am personally acquainted with not a few farmers who pay more than the standard wage. I cannot say how much more they pay, but I know from the workers and from the farmers themselves that they do pay more than the standard minimum wage. That has been achieved outside this system which has been lauded so much by Senator Burke. It is no more than an example of some kind of profit-sharing. He has not given us enough information to let us know whether it is really a co-operative scheme or not, but it seems to me from the information he has given that it is something in the nature of a mild form of profit-sharing. To what extent you could devise a scheme of that kind throughout the country I do not know, but I am aware that there are other farms in Ireland as big as, bigger indeed than, Senator Burke's, on which conditions of employment, pay and facilities are at least as good as those of Senator Burke, and they could not at all be described as co-operative farms.

He mentions as one of the features of his system that the men may own a cow or stock on the farm. It is a common thing in this country—and I hope it will be continued—where men are employed, that they get facilities for the rearing of stock on their employer's farm. Not alone that but they get facilities for the raising of crops and so on, so I wonder to what extent Senator Burke's system differs from many examples of farming under individual ownership with which I am familiar throughtout the country. The Minister referred to the prevalence of the co-operative spirit among the people and I am well aware of many cases where farm machinery is made available by those who are better off to those less well off. We are all familiar with the happenings of autumn when the meitheal gather and everybody lends a hand in saving the neighbour's crops. Some cases have occurred—and there were grave reasons for it—where a neighbour's crops were allowed to rot, but, taking things by and large, there is a fine spirit of co-operation. If aid is needed, men and women come out and do the work.

The Minister made some references that ill-became him to those on his right being somewhat unhappy when he succeeds in doing certain things. I think that is uncalled for. When he achieves something that is good for the people he can rejoice and we will rejoice with him. When something goes wrong and he was warned beforehand that it was likely to go wrong, then we have reason to feel angry with him.

I am not going to go into things that have happened during the last few years but those who are interested will be able to recall examples of what I have in mind. He talks about what he believes is the solution of this problem. In this House and on other platforms, I and those of my Party have consistently advocated that the solution of the difficulty in rural Ireland lies in the adoption of scientific methods of farming. Much has been done long before the present Minister for Agriculture came into office to encourage a knowledge of science and its application to farming problems. I do not want to go into what has been done in these colleges, in the extension of them, in the provision of silos and instruction as to how to handle silos and silage, in the provision of instructors and of demonstration plots up and down the country, but there is no use in trying to minimise the great value of that work or in saying that that work will not in due course have great results. I am not at all pessimistic with regard to the future of Irish agriculture; I never was. I felt that when the young men growing up who flock into our agricultural schools and to the rural science courses in our vocational schools got their turn to take over their parents' farms we would see a big change in the matter of agricultural production. That change has gradually taken place. The older hands are giving up to the new and the young men and women are approaching their problem with a much keener spirit, a much wider knowledge, a much greater determination to avail of the knowledge provided by scientists than those who have gone before them. Therefore, I look forward, as the Minister looks forward, to a considerable advance in production, output and quality of agricultural produce in this country. We are not at all pessimistic.

I believe that the better way is, as Senator O'Dwyer says, to carry on and defend to the last ditch the system of individual ownership. The Minister suggested that Senator Burke left himself open to a charge of Communism in the way this motion is worded. It is very hard to avoid warning Senator Burke that the essence of Communism seems to be inherent in the motion in the wording about co-operative farming units. I do not know of any means to have them other than collective farms. They may be good economy, but whether economic ends should be the main and sole ends of our people is another matter. For my part I believe that there are things higher in life than material gains. The motion goes on—

"with a view to the extension of either or both of these systems of farming."

Who is going to carry out the extension if the neighbours of Senator Burke, having seen the wonderful success of his system, have not adopted it? In many cases the excellent results of the making of silage have not been followed up by farmers. They have not adopted that particular system of providing fodder for their stock. How are you going to get over it unless you compel them? The whole idea of compulsion and collective farming seems inherent in the motion and so it seems to me that it is a motion which this House could not possibly accept.

Senator Burke in winding up said that these farms would concern themselves with educational and experimental objectives. I do not think Senator Burke knows really what the meaning of these two terms is, because inherent in them is speculation and I am afraid loss very often is a matter which is overlooked when we are trying to estimate the value of educational and experimental institutions like agricultural colleges and demonstration farms.

I move the adjournment of the debate.

The Seanad adjourned at 10 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 2nd March, 1950.