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

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I welcome this Bill. I was advocating that this Bill should be introduced long before now. I see it as a major contribution to the upgrading of our cattle herd in general, especially improving quality in beef and dairy herds. Agriculture accounts for one-third of our exports and it is in our interest to ensure that the quality of the cattle we produce meets the demands of the market and rewards the producer. For the financial well being of the country and the farming community the livestock industry is most important and every effort should be made to ensure that quality animals are produced.

This Bill is very necessary. Last week I was at the royal show and I visited the CBF stand. This agency are responsible for promoting the export of our cattle. I saw cattle exhibited there and I was disappointed at the quality on exhibit on that occasion. The farmers who were with me on that occasion were also disappointed. This is one of the reasons that this Bill is necessary. It is important to have quality. I am sure higher standards will be required by the countries to which we will be exporting our livestock in the future. I am sure when grading is introduced we will find it difficult to compete. I am sure it is the Minister's intention in introducing this Bill to improve the standards of our cattle to meet the demands of the market we intend producing them for.

Some people may feel that sections of the Bill are harsh. The Sneem Cooperative Society are concerned that they will not be in a position to produce cattle as a result of this Bill. I do not agree with this. In the long term we need this Bill for the improvement of cattle throughout the country even without the amendments that were introduced in the other House. We have pity for the small farmers and I am sure their problems can be overcome but we have to produce quality cattle. I am sure only a small percentage of the cattle produced in the disadvantaged areas will eventually reach the export market. Concern has been expressed in relation to the non-availability or scarcity of first quality animals. This will sort itself out. As I have already stated, the marketplace will determine whether it is possible to become breeders of good quality animals.

Our beef industry is a £1,000 million industry, of which 80 per cent of its products are exportable. Therefore, it is important that we have proper pedigree beef sires. Mention has been made of three-quarter bred bulls. I do not know what this means. It is just a glorified name for a scrub bull. The Minister is introducing amendments to the Bill to ensure that bulls will be examined, especially in the disadvantaged areas. It should be ensured that the people who are given licences for these bulls produce top quality bulls.

The position of our dairy herd has not been good despite the availability of AI. The yield of the Irish dairy cow is approximately half the yield of the dairy cow in other countries, for example, the Netherlands and Denmark. To improve on this situation the AI stations and the cattle breeding societies must become more thorough and selective in their selection of sires. This programme has been in existence for 30 years. It is a poor reflection on the programme that the national average milk yield per cow is approximately 700 gallons. TheIrish Farmers' Journal of 16 February condemned this Bill. It was stated in that issue that our legislators are still living in the distant past and so are many of our pedigree Friesian breeders. I should like to point out if pedigree Friesian breeders were allowed import their own sires for their cattle we would have a higher average than the 700 gallons national average.

A herd competition was organised by the Irish Friesian Breeders Association last year and the year before that. The highest average of the herd that won was between 1,500 and 1,600 gallons. This gives an idea of the contribution the pedigree breeders are making to agriculture. If everyone took example from the pedigree breeders, in their breeding programme and in their stockmanship, I am sure we would not be in the super-levy situation we find ourselves in today. We would have a higher base and would be in a position to maintain it. It is unfair of the editor of theIrish Farmers' Journal, who is a member of Bord na gCapall to say what he did. I do not know if his knowledge of cattle is equal to his knowledge of horses, but that does not qualify him for chairmanship of the board. I am sure it is his loyalty to one of the Government parties that qualifies him for it.

I should like to take issue with the Department in restricting the importation of semen of good bulls to pedigree breeders. Breeders visited England and saw a progeny of a bull and some of them imported the semen. When other farmers, including myself, looked for licences to import, we were told that they would not be granted to us. The Department are slowing down progress in this respect. They should take advice from the breeders who have experience in this area and have put years of work into a business that has been handed down from father to son. There should be no deterrent in regard to the importation of semen when breeders, who have been very successful in breeding top quality cattle, want to import such semen. This will be for the benefit of agriculture and for the national economy also.

I should like to refer to the National Milk Recording Co-op which is based in Bandon. Their report was presented to the Minister some time ago and he congratulated them on the great work being done. I should like also to congratulate them and their chairman, Michael Buckley. This is another scheme which was ridiculed and criticised by the editor of theIrish Farmers' Journal. If we are to make progress in the quality of our livestock production the Minister should take cognisance of the views put forward by pedigree breeders. It would be advisable for the Minister to meet these societies and hear their views.

The Minister should have his officials look more positively and leniently, especially when it is for the improvement of our dairy and cattle stocks, at the issuing of licences for the importation of semen from good bulls. I commend the Minister on the introduction of this Bill. I welcome the Bill and I hope the Minister will be able to implement it in its entirely.

I commend the Minister for bringing this Bill before the House. It is a step in the right direction. It is certainly a forward step after, perhaps one could say, a few backward ones down through the years. One would imagine there should be no need to bring in such a Bill because all farmers should have learned that the need to have first class stock is essential. Even in times when cattle are dear there is never any difficulty in disposing of good stock. For that reason it is amazing that there is a need to bring in such a Bill.

It is fair to say that all farming organisations have welcomed this Bill. Perhaps few people will be affected by it. I mean by that that in recent days and weeks the Minister has bent over backwards to help the people who were crying loudest about the way this Bill might affect them, the small single suckler herds. I agree, that some of these people were concerned. I can understand that because there are always problems in the single suckler herd or any suckler herd. Heat detection is one of the greatest problems. There are also problems in small herds where people believe that the cost of a bull can be from £800 to £1,200. The Minister has allayed their fears by showing mercy for the first three years at least and allowing them to keep a bull for herds of less than 20 cows. He has bent over backwards to help them in this respect.

A national breeding programme for cattle is essential. Nobody will dispute that. It is in the nation's interests that the Bill should receive the full support of the House. Agriculture accounts for 25 per cent of our total exports. I do not have to remind Members that we are a net exporting country and our cattle exports represent 19 per cent of the total of agricultural exports. It is in our interest to ensure that the quality of the cattle we produce meets the demands of the market and rewards the producer.

The effect of this Bill will be to repeal the Live Stock Breeding Act, 1925 under which 700 bulls were visually inspected annually. In the past years we have seen a change in the demands of the industry which was reflected in the type of bulls such as the Charolais and the Simmental. The number of pedigree bulls for licence and the need to breed specific products for a specific market were recognised. The continental cattle were producing the leaner type carcase. Naturally people go to the factory these days with Simmental or continental breeds because the kill out in the factory is encouraging for anybody breeding these cattle. This meant more money in their pockets than with some of the other types. They are well rewarded for doing this. The leaner calf is in at this stage. The Hereford has been run down in recent years but this has been redressed recently.

Under the 1925 Act two rounds of visual inspection were carried out annually — with two possible appeal rounds — before a certain date at 400 different centres. That, together with the annual comb-out of unlicensed bulls was a very expensive system with a net cost to the Exchequer of between £100,000 and £170,000 annually. In 1982 the Government decided to drop the scheme and cease the licensing of bulls. That was a mistake as I think most people agree. It was a long term economy measure of the worst type with no restriction from then on in the use of bulls. We are now witnessing the result with a rapid decline in quality. That can be seen to some extent in marts, especially in the spring time when they look much worse than at any other time. Bearing this in mind, when 80 per cent of our beef output is exported the disastrous economic consequences are obvious.

To be competitive in this market we must use the best material available and continue to select the most superior bulls to breed. That is what the Bill is all about. It will not be without its problems which I mentioned earlier for certain sections of the farming community, even though it is in the greater interest of everybody. The heat detection in suckler herds for the AI service presents some difficulties. Most people with suckler herds would consider using AI if it were possible to detect the cows in heat at a certain time, but their heat is of a much shorter duration than that of cows that are milking, and it is much more difficult to detect them. Possibly for other reasons they are not seen as often as milch cows. It is more difficult and I think everybody involved knows that.

It causes real problems for the small suckler herd owner. The large suckler herd owner can more easily justify the economics of a pedigree bull to run his herd. This argument is made by many people at the moment. Perhaps they are thinking of the higher price bull from the £800 to £1,200. At present the small suckler herds have unlicensed bulls ranging in type from the reasonable to good combination cross breed to the scrub. I am not quite sure where the name originated. However, I have seen some quite good scrub bulls in my time. It is a pity to call them such a name. In fact, some of them were better than the pedigree. I am talking about a minority no doubt.

Very few.

I said that. These farmers will need help initially in relation to the purchase of a pedigree bull. These bulls are freely available from £800 upwards. I suppose the prices quoted reflect the top prices and bear little relationship to the average price. I am sure bulls can be bought for as low as £400 and £500. The bull can be sold at the end of the season and I suppose no money is tied up for an undue length of time. Most people feel they should dispose of the bull when the cows are in calf because they do not want to have to feed him over a whole winter to the following year. Even though they lose some money by doing this, most people feel they should sell the bull at that time. Strangely enough many people, especially those with small children, are scared of keeping a bull and they keep him for as short a time as possible. I know many people who use AI at the moment would prefer to keep a bull but, because there are children around the house, they are scared to do so. For that reason they sell off their bulls rather early, perhaps when they get all the cows in calf.

If any farmer in any part of the country experiences difficulties in this regard the breeding societies have offered to help find a bull at reasonable cost and of good conformation. The economics of having a bull are sound even for small suckler herd owners even though initially they may be sceptical. A good bull with a small suckler herd will increase the profitability and decrease the necessity for subsidy. It is in everybody's interest to ensure a smooth transition from the present situation to that envisaged in the Bill. Traditionally, the value of a pedigree bull for crossing for commercial cattle was equivalent to the price of three bullocks. Now, it is the equivalent to the price of one bullock. With the super-levy we should see further specialisation in dairy farms.

The Holstein has a role to play in herds of 1,200 gallons per cow and upwards only. Its conformation from the beef point of view, many people would say, is disastrous. We are unique in this country in that 80 per cent of our beef is produced from our dairy herds. We have no specialisation. It is vital to encourage more suckler beef production and to ensure that it can be done economically, unlike the situation obtaining. It is proposed now to subsidise to the tune of £70 per suckler cow in disadvantaged areas. Serious consideration must be given to extending this scheme to the whole country, based on the theory that an increase in the quality of the product, namely beef, will give a greater return to the producer which, in turn, will allow for an overall decrease in subsidisation on account of the independent viability of the operation. The surplus liquid milk in the community must be used to increase our beef herd and to maximise the benefits therefrom.

We must ensure that our national herd numbers will be increased. Our cattle population has gone up marginally since 1983. There are 70 per cent of beef cow herds allocated in the disadvantaged areas. These farmers are enjoying the £70 subsidy which I would like to see spread over the rest of the country because it would encourage people to go into beef production. With milk mountains and butter mountains at the moment we should be trying to do something to encourage people in this direction.

The abolition of the AI subsidy is to be regretted. This together with the super-levy will cause a decline in the usage of AI. Apart altogether from the visual examination of herd bull status, AI bulls are all progeny-tested. The milk board arrange the insemination of one-third of the cows in the country. The regulation of the usage of quality half-bred bulls or three-quarter bred bulls is impossible. The breeding societies have no responsibility or function, nor would the Department of Agriculture have any regulatory role to play in any case.

I suppose we can never justify the suggestion that we should not increase the genetic material any further in view of the vital economic importance of the cattle industry. If we want to maximise profits from the beef industry for the economy, the farmers must be rewarded for production of quality in the future. They will have to be rewarded for producing a specific product for what is mainly an export market. The product must be produced from our meat processing industry. There is much talk from time to time about the amount of cattle exported on the hoof. There is tremendous room for improvement in the value-added area with further packing and beef processing generally and, indeed, small products. Anything we can do to encourage the production of the right product for this industry must be done. This Bill does that.

Third World countries are valuable clients of this industry as instanced by the announcement recently of a contract for our cattle. I suppose all organisations support the Bill for that reason. When we talk about cattle exports to third countries some people are inclined to think that any type of cattle will do. Nothing could be further from the truth because these people certainly will not take any type of cattle. They are quite choosy about the type of cattle they want. Anybody who thinks otherwise is greatly mistaken.

The second objective of producing high quality stores and beef forms the basis of this Bill. The overall economic good is served by the provisions of the Bill. There is no doubt whatever that problems will be encountered, particularly in the case of the five to ten suckler cow herd. I am grateful to the Minister for his decision to facilitate these people even for three years. Three years is quite a long time in this industry. I compliment the Minister. He has taken account of the wishes of certain pressure groups. Certainly there was some pressure from some groups. They said they should be allowed to keep these bulls at least where they had a small suckler herd. In fairness to the Minister he has responded to the call.

In relation to the cattle industry at the moment and the suckler breed, which most of us talk about, and most people talked about it when this Bill was being brought before the House, it is fair to say that the amount of profit at the moment is very low. The complaints coming from some of these small groups at the outset was — and especially some of these groups with five to ten cows or even a little more — that they had to buy a bull at £800 or £1,000 and that they just could not survive.

We are all anxious to improve the quality of our livestock. I was on the ACOT board some years ago and I remember the late Jimmie O'Keeffe talking about the dairy man in the south of Ireland. Many calves from the south of Ireland come to our part of the country. The Minister knows that. Many people go down to the south and take up some of the stock.

I am sure the Minister will not mind if I say that some of the stock from the south is not great. You could describe them as just live stock. Others would be happier if they were dead stock. You would not be proud of them. I heard the late Jimmie O'Keeffe saying that most milk producers in the south were just concerned about the cow having a calf. They were not concerned about what type of calf she had. In fact, he said, if some of the cows were to be in calf to some of the continental breeds like Charolais and Simmental that there would be a loss in milk yields of £60 or £70. That was the estimate he put on it. Others felt they were as well off with a bad calf as a good one. That was a poor outlook to say the least of it because they should remember that they are customers as well. People are really fed up with these types of calves. They are bought simply because they appear to be a little cheaper than the better calf. At the end of the day they are probably dearer. Some of these calves are coming from high milk strain bulls. As somebody said, if you bought some of them you would never be without a calf.

I heard a joke recently which I thought was quite amusing. I met two farmers at a sale. A dealing man came over to one of them then and said, "How did your calves do, the six I sold you last year?" He answered, "Three did badly and three did very well". "Oh, God", said the dealer "what happened, did three die"? The man replied, "They were the three that did well; it was the three that lived that robbed me". There is a lot of sense in that. It might sound very funny but there is a lot of sense in it.

For that reason, I think there is an onus on all of us, throughout the length and breadth of the country, to look after our customers. We talk about the Libyan trade but we should be making an appeal — I know the Minister will be doing that, coming from that neck of the woods also — that when we talk about the thousands of calves that come from the south to quite good customers in the north and the midlands we should be asking them to improve their livestock as well, although in recent times it is fair to say when people in the dairy industry have their sufficient number of heifers they tend to send out the remainder of the cows to some of the continentals or perhaps to some of the Whiteheads.

I notice in recent times that the Hereford at most sales has really tended to take over. Again, perhaps the right cross of the Whitehead and the Hereford can be very good. It would be true to say that some years ago some of them did not grow at all. If you got them to reach a half tonne weight you could never get them any higher. We are not separate in this, we are together in this because it is in all of our interests at this moment, in a time when there is cloud over the whole issue of cattle prices. Nobody is quite sure exactly what the autumn prices will be. Some people are quite scared about it at this moment. I always believe — perhaps many people will agree with me on this — that if the stock is good, even though there may be a fall in price, you are still going to be reasonably well paid.

Anybody going to sales in recent years — I am talking about the past four, five or six years and again I am coming back to the dairy man where he may or may not be making mistakes — will see some of the continental type calves making as much as £260, £270, £280 and often £300. The Minister will agree that they have made that much. In fact I was at a sale last Friday and a one week old continental type calf was sold for £280. I am not suggesting that that is right. The Minister is shaking his head, as if to say it is daft. The point I am making is that the good contintental bull calf is making in most cases, far more than he is worth. They are really well paid for having good stock. It is coming back to the real purpose of the Bill.

One can only welcome a Bill which is going to improve the cattle stock for all of us. We cannot afford to wait any longer. Anybody in his sane senses would have to welcome this Bill. Nobody could condemn such a Bill. Perhaps it is not too late. Some people would say that we have a tremendous amount of inferior stock around. I do not think it is as bad as all that. You do find some. They are more noticeable in the spring when they have suffered as a result of insufficient feeding or bad housing. Perhaps at certain times of the year they may be more noticeable than at other times. For that reason, I can only say that the Bill can do nothing but good.

The Minister recently covered the complaint that has been made regularly over the past number of weeks in relation to the small suckler herds. He has bent over backwards to meet that case. For that reason, I compliment the Minister. I do not think one should hold up the Bill any longer at this moment. I compliment the Minister for grasping the nettle and for taking the action which is welcomed by every farming group in this country. I give it my full support.

I intend, in the few minutes available to me, to relate my remarks not alone to what is in the Bill but also to what has happened to this Bill and to what has happened to the intent behind it since it was first published at the beginning of this year.

I regret — I want to put this on record — that a combination of interests, in both the political field and in the agricultural field, have combined to the point where they have succeeded in doing damage to the intent and to the purpose of this Bill. I welcomed this measure when it was first introduced in its original form because I accepted that it was aimed at achieving the right thing and it was going in the right direction. The aim and purpose of the Bill is to bring about a higher level of quality in the livestock industry of this country. I recognise fully the Minister's commitment to the question of quality in agriculture, whether it is in animals, in cereals, potatoes or any aspect of the industry. He has had a lifelong commitment to the improvement of standards and the improvement of quality. I have no doubt that he set out with this particular purpose in mind.

I regret that the interests to which I referred have succeeded in getting an amendment to this Bill which will, to some extent for a number of years to come, damage strongly the purpose for which it was intended. I want to name these interests. I want to say that they are both from the political and from the agricultural sectors. We have had pressure from Government backbenchers; we have had pressure for the amendment from the Fianna Fáil backbenchers; we have had it from a most unusual source, theIrish Farmers' Journal, a publication that has always expressed itself as being committed to the promotion of higher standards in Irish agriculture. We have had it from certain groups within the agricultural scene.

I notice that Senator Ellis has arrived in the Chamber since I began to speak. I listened to his address here last week. As I said to him afterwards, I wanted to compliment him on the points he made. My only regret is that the views he expressed, the views I am expressing now, did not find a sufficient echo of support within the backbenchers of both our parties.

I want to refer to the amendment which has been introduced. I want to express the fears I have in relation to it. As I understand it, the effect of the amendment will be to allow a continuation of the existing position for the next three years in herd sizes of up to 20 cows. If we take the average herd size in the country as six and a half cows we are talking of a very substantial number of herds coming under that umbrealla.

If we allow the present system to continue for a period of three years, the calves and the cattle that will result over three years will still be with us in five or six years time. In my view the responsibility for this amendment rests with farming organisations, with people like our own back benchers, and with publications like theIrish Farmers' Journal. If we continue to produce rubbish on many of our farms over the next three to five years, we will know where the responsibility belongs. That mentality which was expressed in the earlier part of this year is damaging to agriculture. It is the mentality that ensured that mountain ewes were sold on the Paris lamb market as Irish lamb resulting in considerable damage to the lamb trade.

I have had long personal experience with farm organisations. I have been involved with them. I have never hesitated to defend the legitimate interest of the farmers or the agricultural industry. There is a noticable reluctance on the part of some of our farmers to produce a quality product. That can be seen in the livestock we are producing, in bad husbandry in certain cases and in the type of vegetables and potatoes we produce. In fact, very good products are ruined because the good are mixed with the bad. In relation to that mentality again it took penal measures within the dairy industry to ensure the production of quality milk. Ten years ago when the fruits of the EC began to flow into our farms they were whittled away continuously by the wrong options being chosen. The money and the finance given to promote quality products and quality production were buried in concrete and machinery. We have reached the stage now where — certainly in the European market — quality, and quality alone, will count. Whatever measure of responsibility those of us privileged to be legislators have, we must recognise that slipshod methods are out where agriculture is concerned. In the marketplace there is no room for laggards in any circumstances.

The aim of the Bill — and I hope it can be realised — is to improve the quality of our livestock. In 1984 the value of meat exports was £890 million. That represents 10 per cent of our total exports. Every other export — the remaining 90 per cent — comes from industries and sectors whose primary consideration is the promotion of higher and better standards and the manufacture and sale and export of a still higher quality product. There are interests in the agricultural industry at present who feel that for some reason they are privileged to go against all that knowledge and belief. The Department of Agriculture in their EC Carcase Classification Scheme have shown quite clearly that there is a deterioration in carcase quality. Any of us who stand in cattle markets and try to buy cattle there can only be conscious of the deteriorating standards in our cattle.

I do not intend to dwell too long on this mysterious article called the three-quarter bred bull. There is no such thing and other Senators have amply disposed of that. None of us can stand over the type of farming in some holdings which are looking for permission to use this three-quarter bred bull. To me that request is simply a cover for people who are lackadaisical in their approach to their profession, people who are not concerned about quality and who wish to continue to produce mongrels for which there is only a declining and continuously restricting market.

Previous speakers have referred to the value of third country markets. Their value has been a mixed one. They have paid for inferior quality cattle the same prices virtually as are being paid for the quality elements. In other words, they have been taking the rubbish from our farms. For as long as these markets were open there was an opportunity, or an excuse, to produce the type of animals that fitted into that category. These markets are declining. We are finding ourselves being steadily forced back onto the European scene. In these markets we will sell on quality, and on quality alone. The objective of going for quality on a market that demands quality and at the same time permitting the use of inferior bulls on our farms is the direct opposite to what every expert in the field has indicated to us is required.

I want to conclude by saying that nothing in my remarks is directed at the Minister. The pressure was there. It was on us here. It was on the people over there. It was in the Fine Gael Árd-Fheis in Cork. It came from quite a number of quarters. It came fromThe Farmers' Journal. We will see the results in the years ahead. In conclusion — I am requesting the Minister to ensure that whatever regulations are made in relation to the inspection of these non-pedigree bulls for use in certain herds will be as tight as possible. Perhaps the Department could make certain leasing arrangements for people who say they cannot afford a pedigree bull. Special term schemes which existed in the past could be brought in again. Premiums could be considered. Certainly, in the suckler herds perhaps the Minister could extend the grant system to ensure that a pedigree bull would be eligible for a grant. These are all alternatives which would have the effect, I believe, of ensuring that the quality of this industry would be developed, and the product would be available in the marketplace.

I regret that I had to make these remarks but I believe it would be entirely wrong to ignore the fact that groups whose responsibility it was to act otherwise have acted in an irresponsible manner.

I should like to thank Members for their contributions. It is clear from the debate that there is general agreement with the intent and purpose of the Bill. Indeed, I presupposed that coming here because on the Adjournment debate in this House on bull licensing on 14 July 1983 the reintroduction of controls on bulls for breeding was advocated and, indeed, advocated quite strongly in this House and getting rid of the 1925 Livestock Breeding Act was regretted.

Very briefly, on a few specifics. Senator T. Hussey referred to the Irish dairying situation as compared with Denmark. My view on the matter is that we should place the emphasis on the overall efficiency of the dairying operation rather on yield per cow. As we all know very well, high yields per cow do not necessarily mean high profits. However, I accept that we have room for a substantial increase in yield and breeding has a place in this but, of course, so also has better grassland utilisation and better management of health generally. As far as dairying is concerned, especially with an eye to beef, we have enough good genetic materials here at home. The demand for Holstein is certainly something that we should look at very carefully.

Shoot them at the point of entry.

We cannot exactly do that. I certainly share the view that, especially looking ahead to a time when group proposals may be taboo, the fewer Holstein we have the better. But we are fortunate that, because of restrictions, we have managed to keep down the level of Holstein blood in the Friesian breed. Talking about milk, I should like to mention the work being done by the Irish Dairy Records Co-Op and Slimline. That, certainly, is helping a lot towards pointing out to farmers where they are going right and, indeed, where they are going wrong. Now that we have tied it in with the UK, it is a very comprehensive service indeed and one that is being availed of and subsidised by our own Department.

Senator Hourigan raised the question of the use of the Garda Síochána in administering this proposed legislation. I can assure him and the House that the gardaí would be used only in very extreme cases. In fact, that inclusion of the gardaí is standard in legislation of this kind.

Senator M. O'Toole referred to the problems of isolated areas. The stated intention is to allow, as I said already, the use of non-pedigree bulls — I did not refer to the three quarter, half, or seven eighths. What I am talking about are non-pedigree bulls in small beef cow herds. That should cater for the problems of isolated areas. If such problems need to be catered for on a continuing basis, the Minister of the day can do so. Senator O'Toole also referred to the licensing of bulls in Scotland. The problem, as I see it there, is not so much one of licensing. The problem is more in relation to the rules of the breed societies in the UK than to any official controls.

Senator McDonald raised the question of the severity of the penalties laid down in the Bill. I would like to stress that these are maximum penalties and that the level of penalty in any individual case will be decided by the courts. All I am saying is that in this Bill, for a given offence, the penalty cannot exceed a certain figure. Senator McDonald also drew attention to the serving of notices under section 7 of the Bill. He referred in particular to the service of notices to a person of 16 years of age where the owner of the bull is not known. As regards the service of a notice to a 16 year old, this is the same as what was provided for in section 13 of the old 1925 Act, which we are now repealing.

As regards the service of a notice to the owner of a bull when the identity of the owner is not known, this phraseology, peculiar as it may sound, is standard in about 20 different Acts and is taken from the Town Planning Act. In practice, what it means is that the notice can be addressed to the owner of the bull, care of the owner of the land on which the bull is kept. Section 13 of the 1925 Act also includes this in its provisions. It establishes that the letter was posted and the service of the notice is proven in this way, Senator McDonald also felt that the period of 14 days in section 6 (3) is too short. I consider this period is quite adequate since the owner will already have had at least 28 days notice under section 6(1), that he must either castrate or slaughter the bull. A letter to the Minister or to the Department is all that is needed to constitute a formal appeal.

Senator Ellis spoke about the need for the Department to provide money for the purchase of top class bulls. The Department have in their leasing scheme a limited number of quality bulls of the Hereford and Angus breeds which have been located on lease under the scheme with pedigree breeders and with AI stations. The intention is to ensure that top quality bulls which might otherwise be lost to the breeding sector are retained for breeding and the strategic use of funds.

Senator Ellis also referred to the age of 15 months. That was an interesting point. I checked that out myself. The Bill does provide that a bull over the age of nine months will be illegal unless it is a pedigree or covered by a permit. The 15 months relates to the type of documentation which will be acceptable as proof of a bull being in the herd book sector. When a breed society are notified of the birth of a bull calf, they issue a certificate acknowledging notification of the birth. This certificate is evidence of eligibility for entry in the herd book. When the animal is approved for entry in the herd book a certificate of registration is issued by the society. If this certificate is not issued by the time the bull reaches 15 months, he becomes an illegal bull for the purpose of the legislation.

Senator Kiely raised the question of a particular bull. We have a system with regard to bulls that a certain amount of semen is allowed and some tests are carried out. He will be glad to know that I would favourably consider a formal application from him. It is time we allowed some more in from that animal. He also made the point about the scarcity of good stock. That is probably one of our biggest problems in the price of calves. The price of calves was referred to by nearly every speaker as being too high. For instance, one day this year at trials somewhere in the UK and in Bandon, calves from the UK were making about £90 sterling in the UK and they were making IR£199 here. If that animal ends up in the same market, quite obviously, our beef man is at a big disadvantage from the point of view of competing. One of the reasons why good calves are so dear is that they are scarce. There are too many inferior calves on offer. The advice with regard to the use of continental bulls also makes a point for the breeders. There was a genuine fear of continental bulls and the difficulties in calving. The breed societies spent a lot of money on both continental and Herefords. They have developed a strain of bull calf that does not have calving problems, or at least you will know the one that has. That is one of the good things about breeding. You know where you are with the indifferent type animal. You do not know what is going to happen at calving time.

Senator Lennon mentioned the pressure groups and the low profits in suckling. It is a fact that people came from both sides of the House. It was not really pressure. They said that this would, if I implemented it as I intended to, cause great hardship in certain areas where you had small suckler herds, that people would be put out of business or be at a disadvantage. Very reluctantly we gave this concession on the basis that if they had a good quality non-pedigree bull in small suckler herds of 20 cows or under we would allow for that bull to be inspected by an inspector of our Department and that the inspection would be paid for by the farmer himself. It is not written into the Bill but will be by way of regulation and it is for a three year period.

That will give people time to gear themselves up for legislation and also it will eventually show them the folly of their ways. A suckler man of all people should be the very last man to keep a bad bull because he is stuck with the product of whatever type of animals he has. It might be different for a dairy man, if he can get rid of that calf, and if he has a different type of calf well then somebody else is going to have that problem. But the suckler man is going to have that animal for a long time and surely it is in his own interest to ensure that where possible he would use AI or, indeed, that he would use a good quality bull. Indeed, the information coming back to me is that quite a lot of the suckler people, even the small suckler people, in spite of the difficulties of identifying even they are using the AI and, indeed, are using pure bred bulls even though the clause is there whereby they may do otherwise. I am not saying to them that they should. I am quite sure many of them will be guided by their own superior knowledge of the industry and of what will sell well and we will do what the main thrust of the Bill is trying to set out to do, that is to improve the quality of our animals. Certainly, the only way to do that is through legislation. I share the disappointment of the Senators from both sides of the House with regard to the sort of journalistic tactics that went on in regard to this. I do not know what was behind it but certainly it did cause some problems. The amendment is a small one and it cannot cause that much hassle.

I do not share this pessimism with regard to the regulation, that it can do that much damage, for the reasons that I have outlined. While there is an out there for some people, that is, for people with small suckler herds, the suckler herd would be about one-sixth of the entire cattle trade. Even of that one-sixth, my information from people in my Department is that a substantial amount of them will do the right thing anyway. I would hope that the others, when they see how their neighbours are getting on, will follow suit.

As Senators rightly pointed out, we are in a very tight competitive scene. We have always aimed at the top of the market. If we are to have a future, I think the future of our cattle will be, as has been in the past, in the German butchers and, indeed, in the British supermarkets and developing down into the Middle East. There, again, in the Middle East they are looking for better quality, for high quality vac-packed. The people who carry out the processing of meat tell me that for a good quality product you need a good quality animal and, certainly, there is no room at all for poor quality nor, indeed, is there any need for it.

As I said at the outset, we have more than enough genetic material here as far as our dairy herd is concerned. We have a superior type of Friesian cow and, indeed, some very nice Shorthorns coming up that with proper management will provide us with our milk requirements. The dairy farmer should give a little bit more attention to the beef man who is working on much smaller margins. The beef farmer is working on very slim margins, even at best. If he does not get the right product, he will not be there at all.

Question put and agreed to.