On that Cromwellian note we return to the question of wheat. It is interesting to observe that, in the light of the warlike preparations we are making to-night, there is one reed upon which we have resolved not to lean, and that is on the Minister for Agriculture's wheat scheme. I remember the time when it was a bulwark of our independence, that the guns of the base, bloody and brutal Saxon would turn from us, and that we would turn to the fleshpots of Wexford and revel in the abundance of wheat but, softly and silently in the night, the Minister for Industry and Commerce went off to the millers and said: "Whatever about the fleshpots of Wexford, you had better lay in a store from Canada and Australia." We have now laid in supplies of wheat to guarantee us against scarcity of food in time of war, supplies which Deputy Allen used to tell us would be provided by Manitoba No. 1 grown in County Wexford. The farce has failed, and we are no longer told that wheat growing was a defensive measure, having been abandoned by its authors, the Fianna Fáil Government. We are then driven back to the question: Why does anyone want to spend money under an Estimate like this to promote the growth of wheat? Moreover, why should we put notices in the newspapers, and plaster the countryside with notices exhorting everyone to grow wheat and assuring them that it pays, when we all know in our hearts and souls that it pays nobody; that more than half the farmers who planted and grew wheat found, when they went to reap their corn that, despite the price paid by the Government, the yield was so poor, and the incidence of failure so high, the vast majority lost money, and the consumers lost £2,750,000 per annum. In face of that, who wants to go on growing wheat? It is perfectly legitimate for a man who has children and who wants a bit of straight-run flour in his own house to grow some and to bring it to the local miller to have it ground. If he wants to do that he is welcome to it. That is a charge on no one, and the man is exercising his essential freedom to use his land in whatever way he thinks is best in the interests of his family. Why should we be squandering £2,750,000 per annum on growing wheat that nobody wants; that has been a loss to everyone that touched it, except the millers who, by licence of the Government, have plundered the country?
Committee on Finance. - Vote 52—Agriculture (Resumed).
I want to see under what head the Deputy is going. There is only an item of £5 for importation of seed wheat mentioned in the Estimate.
Sub-head M (9), provision in connection with a scheme for the importation of seed wheat by merchants under a guarantee against loss, £5.
The Deputy could only discuss the different kinds of seed wheat on that.
Sub-head O (8) (a), provision for additional staff in connection with the staining of imported seed wheat.
That is a matter of £550.
I agree that £2,750,000 is a bagatelle compared with £550. In the old days if people went to the Government to ask for £555, even to save the State, they would be thrown out and told that they could not afford it. These were the days when the Government was spending £20,000,000 a year, and, I agree, that now in these halcyon days, when they are spending £36,000,000, a sum of £550 does not represent much.
In a small item like this, I think it is not right for the Deputy to go into the whole wheat policy.
I am only asserting that we should not import seed wheat. It is true that the £5 is a token vote, but, as you, Sir, know, a token vote could be used to justify the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds. The token Vote is an old expedient, and we are assuming that the token Vote of £5 is, in fact, opening the door for the expenditure of £25,000, or whatever sum might be necessitated by the fact that the wheat dealers would not accept responsibility. The whole scheme is so disreputable, and so thoroughly discreditable, that it is not necessary to waste much time on it, except to ask the Fianna Fáil Party, when are they going to muster up courage to drop this scheme and save £2,750,000? This particular piece of codology is a scheme for which there is no hope, because the Minister has admitted that as a defensive measure it is pure cod.
How did the Deputy get the £2,000,000?
I will deal with that at another opportunity, as the Leas-Cheann Comhairle would object if I went into it now. You know, if you import this spring seed wheat, that 70 per cent. of it will never ripen. You know that if it is sown in the middle of January, when you can reasonably expect frost to come and give it an essential set back, 70 per cent. of it will not ripen, and in September or October the millers will wring their hands and say that it was unfortunate the weather was not good, and that as the wheat failed, it could be fed to the hens. That is poor consolation to the poor fools who were persuaded to grow wheat in order to get the guaranteed price. But it is not wanted. There is stored in the millers' barns enough wheat to feed this country for the next 12 months. Any wheat grown will be over and above the national requirements. It will be surplus wheat. Even Deputy Allen does not suggest that we should go into the world market with Manitoba No. 1 and contend that the quality is as good or better than that produced in Manitoba. Deputies opposite are learning a lot of sense in the last five years.
That is more than we can say for the Deputy.
That may be. God knows I did the best I could to hammer sense into their heads. If I am getting a bit addleheaded in the process, who would blame me? Anyone would suffer a nervous breakdown from the result of overwork and to teach the Fianna Fáil Party sense is overwork for a superman much less a simple mortal like myself. But, when I read about Public Safety Acts I begin to think I have done the job too well. I am not going to talk about the Public Safety Act to-night. All I am asking you now is to deal with the wheat and dispose of that and if you will get that out of the way it will be a very valuable operation. You have got the lead from the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He is a plain-spoken, rough man and he did not hesitate to tell the Minister for Agriculture that he did not give two hoots for the wheat scheme, that he would not trust the hens of the country to his wheat scheme and bought in all the wheat that was necessary in order to keep the people of this country in bread. That is a sensible lead. Follow him and kick the wheat scheme out.
What will the wheat growers behind you say about that? I don't know anything about wheat but I am asking you to ask the men sitting behind you about it.
Deputy Kelly could scarcely know anything about wheat, never having ventured much beyond Thomas Street in his life, but he knows something about bread. I think he is to be seen hastening through the streets of his native city with his loaf tucked underneath his arm as often as any of us. Does he know that every time he tucks the loaf under his arm, he pays 1d. extra to the millers of this country in the sacred name of wheat? I do not know if he is to be seen rolling up his sleeves to mix a cake of an evening. If he does he should know every time he does so he has to pay the millers 2d. I do not despair of teaching even Deputy Kelly sense.
I am not asking you.
Every time he buys a loaf I want him to sing to himself this little refrain, "A penny for the millers, a penny for the millers." If he will sing that every night he buys the loaf and sings it all the way, as he carries the loaf home, I venture to say the next time he will come into the Lobby with me. It is practice you want. I know these simple facts sound revolutionary in the ears of the Deputy but if he will study them and dwell upon them he will come to realise in future, as he has in the past, that most of what he hears from these benches is sound sense.
You cost the country a terrible lot of money with your speeches.
That is true.
What is worse, he costs his Party a terrible number of votes.
I doubt it.
I think the Deputy should be allowed to continue his speech without further interruptions.
The speech is about the rotten wheat policy of this Government and the expenditure that it calls for under this Estimate to introduce seed wheat into this country to fool the farmers of this country and plunder the public. I am asking the Government to abandon that policy and to return to a normal, sane, agricultural policy in this country that will provide the people of this country with a decent living on the land. You have got an opportunity of starting that work now, and I urge most strongly on you that you take it. If you do, and, at the same time, adopt the suggestions I have made here in regard to the removal of the tariff on artificial manures and the granting of a subsidy in relation thereto, then agriculture will be getting some really useful help. But the contents of this Supplementary Estimate, far from helping agriculture, are simply going to increase the wealth of the already wealthy manure ring and perpetuate the scandal of the wheat policy cod.
Deputy Dillon reminds me always of a mourning old lady starting her ollagón. In this case he complains of £40,000 being spent on sub-head G (3). My only complaint about that is that I do not consider 10/- per ton a sufficient subsidy on fertilisers in this country. That is my only complaint, that it is not a sufficient sum. Deputy Dillon's plan would mean taking out of employment the 5,000 or 6,000 men who are working on fertilisers in this country, and throwing them out on the street to join the white army of unemployed. That is Deputy Dillon's plan. Deputy Dillon's first question is: "Why are those fellows working, producing artificial manures for the Irish farmer, when we can get them across from Belgium just as well?"
Or Holland either. That is the first line of Deputy Dillon's programme, and it is definitely at the back of every policy preached here by Deputy Dillon. Well I know it. Why have Irishmen employed here, manufacturing artificial manure, when we can carry it from Belgium or Holland? Deputy Dillon gave us a few prices. Deputy Dillon did not tell us something else, that on the very week that the Minister announced that 10/- a ton reduction on the artificial manures manufactured in this country, the foreign manures fell by that 10/- a ton straight off the reel. I challenge contradiction on that. Apparently, the foreigner was making 10/- a ton extra out of manures in this country until this scheme was brought in. Those are facts I would advise Deputies to study, and study them a little more before they come out on Deputy Dillon's programme.
Deputy Dillon then switched on to the wheat scheme, and to the wheat proposals, and he spoke for a very long period on the token Vote of £5. I am sure the Leas-Cheann Comhairle will pardon me if I travel a little after him.
I hope you will not go too far.
I will guarantee I will not go as far as Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon told us that this scheme was a failure, and, whilst Deputy Dillon, a Deputy who is not a farmer, who does not grow wheat, spoke in that strain here, we had over there, sitting behind Deputy Dillon, two advocates, I am glad to say, of native wheat growing in this country. I remember in the good old days that Deputy Belton and myself spent a whole evening planning the growing of native wheat in this country.
You would not accept it that I taught you how to grow wheat?
But you are at it yet. And Deputy Belton sits quietly behind his adviser in agriculture, Deputy Dillon, when he condemns wheat growing in this country, sits there tamely behind him, a sound advocate of Deputy Dillon's policy. Now, that is going too far. I challenge Deputy Hughes to stand up here in this House and say whether or not he made money in the growing of wheat for the past three years. That is an open challenge issued here. I challenge Deputy Hughes, as a practical farmer, to stand up here and say whether or not wheat paid him for the past three years or since he started to grow it.
You will hear me, Deputy.
I will be very glad to hear you.
Has it paid the country, if it paid Deputy Hughes?
Certainly, certainly. You have, on the one hand, Deputy Dillon complaining because employment is given to Irishmen here in the growing of wheat. On the other hand, he is telling us (he has changed his tune now, by the way) of the penny in the loaf Deputy Kelly has to pay on bread on account of the wheat. He told us, before he adjourned to repair himself and get his second wind, as the saying is, that Deputy Kelly was paying that penny a loaf for the wheat that was imported to save this country in case of war, whereas, as a matter of plain, honest fact, the extra price of flour in this country is largely due to the extra cost of labour in this country.
Give us the figures.
Certainly. I have no objection to giving the figures to Deputy Davin or any other Deputy in this House.
Put them on the records.
Yes, and I put this on record, that flour mill workers in this country are paid an average of 6/- a week more than their fellow workers working in the Liverpool mills.
There is a difference of 18/- a sack in the price of flour.
I hope I shall be able to hear Deputy Davin contradict it.
How many workers are getting full-time employment?
How many workers are getting overtime employment? Did Deputy Davin ever hear of that?
Give us the figures.
Deputy Corry must be allowed to make his own speech.
I was asked a question by Deputy Davin and I have replied to it. If he is in a position to contradict what I say, nobody will be more glad than I, but let us not have this cry that the extra cost of flour here is on account of a few miserable shillings paid to the farmers for the production of wheat. It is time it stopped. There may be very good reasons for it. I should like to see our workers here paid a decent wage, a better wage than English workers, but the facts are there.
What is the Deputy complaining about, then?
I am complaining of misrepresentation of facts by Deputies on the opposite side. Deputy Kelly was told here a while ago that he was paying a penny on his loaf of bread because of Irish wheat. He is not. He is paying something extra on his bread on account of the extra cost of Irish labour, and he is paying it for the sake of manufacturing here and giving employment to our flour mill workers which they were not getting before this Government came into office.
What about the millers' profits here and in Liverpool?
If there is profiteering, there is the Prices Commission which can be appealed to. If I had spent half the time howling here about profiteering that Deputy Davin has spent, I would long ago have been before that commission with my case. It is Deputy Davin's duty to go there, if he has a case, and if he has not a case, it is his duty to shut up. Deputy Davin says that the millers are profiteering and I have heard the same statement from those benches on several occasions in the past two or three years. If the case is there, there is a Prices Commission appointed by the Government to put an end to profiteering, and it is the duty of Deputy Davin and other members of the Labour Party who think they have a case, to go to the Prices Commission and put that case before them, instead of coming in here with this kind of cant.
There is a verdict on it already which the Government have not carried out.
Up you go and put the case. The Deputy can make his own speech later and I will listen attentively. That is the position with regard to wheat. We heard Deputy Dillon for three-quarters of an hour condemning Irish wheat, but the farmers themselves are the best judges, and every year the acreage under wheat has increased by leaps and bounds, since the wheat scheme came in. Despite the inclemency of the weather this year, I expect to see a still greater acreage under wheat next summer, for the sole reason that it pays the farmer. That is the sole reason I expect to see it grown.
There is another matter which, to my mind, is serious. It is the matter of item No. 21—contributions by importers in respect of the staining of imported seed wheat. I regret that the Minister for Agriculture is not here, but I should like to know from him, in the first instance, why seed wheat had to be stained, and, in the second instance, what action was taken with regard to the culprits in the matter. Hundreds of tons of seed wheat were brought into this country last harvest. The bags were not even changed and they were taken down to the miller and sold as native Irish wheat. I think it would be the duty of the Minister, whose Departmental officials came to know of it, to have prosecutions brought, and I want to know why they were not brought. If there is extra money being paid for native Irish wheat here, as Deputy Davin and other Deputies allege, I do not see why any individuals, merchants or otherwise, should draw hundreds of pounds out of the purchase of seed wheat in England and its sale to the miller as Irish wheat.
It actually travelled from the boat to the mills, in some instances; in other instances, it stayed for a night in the merchants' stores. As this matter imposes a certain cost on the taxpayer —a double cost, in fact, because it has also put us to the expense of sending inspectors around to see that the wheat is stained—I cannot for the life of me understand why action has not been taken. The sums involved amount to some thousands of pounds. We see a poor devil down the country who is not able to pay his meat levy, or some other levy, harried and almost pulled asunder in one court and another, until he is shoved into bankruptcy because of his inability to pay some of the levies put on by the Minister. Why, then, should we allow other gentlemen, who got rich quick in this game, to get away?
Now you are at it.
I should like some explanation from the Minister in this respect. I know the facts are very definite.
Now repeat your charge to the Minister.
Certainly. I am alluding to item No. 21, and I want to know from the Minister why action was not taken in regard to certain individuals who sold imported seed wheat, brought across from England, as Irish wheat to the Irish millers. I think it is time that practices of that kind were stopped. The Minister apparently, put an end to them at a cost of £1,300, or a contribution from the importers of that amount.
What was the profit per barrel?
Deputy Belton and the Minister can make that out between them. All I am concerned with is that certain individuals in this country made thousands of pounds profit on the job. I carefully watched the Press to find out when the prosecutions would take place, and what was going to happen to these individuals, but, apparently, nothing happened to them, whilst here you have a poor devil down the country who was not able to pay his pig levy or something else, and you have him harried up and down the country. It is not because a man is in a big way of business that he should be let go. My job here is to see fair play for all my constituents at all costs, and I think this kind of thing should end now and end quickly. As far as Deputy Dillon and his attacks on the wheat scheme are concerned, however, I think that if he would go down the country and stay with Deputy Hughes for a while, he might learn something about it.
The Chair had not the benefit of hearing Deputy Dillon referring to the wheat scheme, but the only money here mentioned, which is for the importation of seed wheat, is £5.
Well, I can assure the Ceann Comhairle that it is his loss if he had not the benefit of hearing Deputy Dillon, because we had a most amusing discourse in connection with that £5 from Deputy Dillon, which lasted for about three-quarters of an hour. However, what I am suggesting is that, when next harvest comes along, if Deputy Dillon would ramble down to Deputy Hughes's place, he would be still more amazed when he sees Deputy Hughes occupied with his reaper and binder, and so on cutting down the wheat that is despised and rejected by Deputy Dillon. Perhaps Deputy Hughes might be able to coax Deputy Dillon down to his place next year, and if he were to spend a week there instead of hopping off to Australia, he would see what farming is like, and would come back here a sadder and a wiser man.
That could not be done.
Deputy Tom Kelly says that we could not do that. Various plans have been tried with a view to knocking sense into Deputy Dillon, but the trouble is that he is too much in Dublin with Deputy Kelly and the others.
He is not with me.
Let him go down the country to Deputy Hughes, and Deputy Hughes will educate him—even Deputy Belton could do him a lot of good—and they could have a nice fireside talk over the wheat scheme. These things are evidently a nightmare with Deputy Dillon. I cannot describe them in any other way, but I say to the Minister that he ought to increase the subsidy on fertilisers in this country. I am very definite on that. I think fertilisers are much needed for our land to-day and, if we are going to try to help out the farmers, they should be helped out generally. Half-a-loaf is no good. I do not wish to detain the House longer, but I should like to hear Deputy Hughes on his experience of growing wheat, and I am sure he would tell us the truth.
I do not want to say anything in this debate——
Sit down, if so.
——to discourage the Minister's wheat-growing policy, and I merely intervene here to endeavour to find out from Deputy Corry, who poses as an expert in this matter, what are the wages costs involved in the present production of flour. Perhaps he will tell us that when he speaks again. Will he give us the figures as to the wages paid to the flour-milling workers at any period previous to the coming into operation of the present wheat-growing policy, the time worked and so on, and work that out at so much per cwt. for the flour, having reference to the prices paid to the farmer and the profits to the millers themselves?
Deputy Corry referred to the question of wages and I have heard Deputy Davin in reply, but I am not prepared to hear any more from anybody on this question of wages.
Deputy Corry told us that if the policy advocated by Deputy Dillon was put into force here it would mean throwing men out of employment in the Dublin factories where super-phosphate is manufactured.
No, in Cork.
Very well, Cork. That shows that, Deputy Corry has not the slightest conception or knowledge of the history of the prices of super-phosphate over a number of years. He knows nothing at all about it. I remember the war years and the conditions with regard to superphosphates then, and any farmer who was buying artificial manures at the time must remember the conditions then prevailing. I do not know whether or not Deputy Corry was buying artificial manures at that time. During the war we relied here, for the supply of superphosphates, solely on Irish factories. There was no possibility of getting the foreign stuff. After the war, when foreign stuff was allowed in, which was looked upon with suspicion by the farmers as not being up to the standard of the home stuff, the difference in price at that time was actually 17/- and 18/- a ton. I remember the first year when foreign superphosphate came in, and the actual difference between the foreign and home-manufactured superphosphate was about 17/- a ton. The foreign stuff was bought extensively that first year.
In the second year, the home manufacturers realised that, if they were to hold their position here, they would have to come into line as far as the price was concerned. As a result, the difference in price came down to about 9/- a ton, and in the third year the difference between the home manufactured and foreign superphosphate was only about 4/-. I admit that the home manufactured stuff was better and was worth the difference of about 4/-. It was not lumpy; it was free and fresh. However, the fact remains that the coming in of the foreign super-phosphate secured for the farmers at that time a competitive price for artificial manures—one of the most important requirements for the land. I suggest that Deputy Corry, in his statement, showed that he was grossly ignorant of the real facts of the case.
There is one thing upon which the whole economic future of this country depends, no matter how much balderdash is talked here about the development of industries, and that is, the main industry of this country, agriculture. That depends on the fertility of the soil, and the fertility of the soil in this country is definitely on the downgrade. It has not been attended to as it should have been attended to and as it is attended to in other countries. There is a tremendous amount of land in this country on the border-line of production. It has been robbed to a large extent for a great number of years. When the soil produces a crop for the farmer, it must be restored in some way, either by restoring vegetable matter to the soil and so on, or by the use of artificial manures. A very big percentage of our land is crying out for some form of food to enable it to increase its fertility. The most obvious and cheapest form is the provision of superphosphates. That is the particular ingredient in which our soil is more deficient than any other.
The first time I spoke in this House I advocated a subsidy on artificial manures and a competitive price for them. As I have pointed out, we got a competitive price immediately after the war by allowing foreign superphosphates into this country. From that time up to the time Fianna Fáil came into office Irish superphosphate manufacturers were able to hold their own on the market. They were able to compete. The factories that were producing manures during the war here are still in existence, although during all that time they had to face competition from foreign manures coming in.
Deputy Corry suggests that the policy his Party put into force against the unfortunate farmers seven years ago is right and proper, and should be continued—to give the manure manufacturers in this country a monopoly to rob and exploit the farmers. Incidentally, the soil of the country is suffering, and has suffered seriously as a result of that policy. The Minister gives a miserable, paltry subsidy of £40,000 to help soil condition in this country. It is a contemptuous Vote. It is an insult to the people who are giving any thought or attention to this question; a gross insult to the people who have studied or made any attempt to study soil conditions in this country. I treat that Vote with contempt. We have been trying to educate the Minister in this matter, and, after long persuasion, he comes along with this mean, paltry sum of money to throw to the farmers, with that kind of contempt which is typical of his Party. Anything is good enough for the unfortunate devil down the country. It is the big new industries which are going to grab the big sums. It is like throwing a bone to a dog. In actual fact, this money is not going to the farmers at all. It is being given to the farmer to pass through his hands and go to swell the profits of the manure manufacturers in this country. Deputy Corry knows that as well as I do. Deputy Corry knows that there is no inducement whatever in that miserable 10/- per ton to increase the use of artificial manures here. It is not going to help one iota in the increase of the use of fertilisers.
Deputy Corry just admitted that any money put by the Government into a scheme of this kind would be the soundest and best investment possible. Fifty thousand pounds has been allocated for the development of the tourist industry, and we are told that the Minister for Industry and Commerce proposes to raise £500,000 to develop the tourist industry. It may be of some use, but it will take a long time to increase the income from that industry by £1,000,000. And then a few privileged people through the country will benefit by it, such as hotel-keepers and people living in seaside resorts. But if the Minister was courageous enough to put a decent sum of money into this sort of scheme, every active farmer would benefit, and fertility of the soil would improve; you would have better crops, better grass lands, more nutritious feeding in your grass, and, naturally, better stock as a result. I think the Dáil should refer this Vote back, and ask the Minister to reconsider the whole matter, and that at the very least, in this first year, £100,000 should be voted for this.
So it is.
How do you make that out?
I explained it when introducing it. If the Deputy was not here I cannot help it.
Whatever it is, it means 10/- per ton.
It is not enough, anyway.
No, it is not enough. It is not going to induce farmers to increase the use of superphosphates here. To give an illustration of the necessity for a vast increase in the use of artificial manures, I may say that New Zealand uses ten times as much artificial manures per arable acre of land as we do; Holland and Denmark use about eight times as much; and the British use about seven times as much. We are far and away below any other country in the world in the purchase of artificial manures. This miserable 10/- per ton is a gross insult to the farmers, and nothing else. I was here when the Minister was speaking, and another peculiar thing that struck me was that one member of the particular group of manufacturers the Minister proposes to subsidise by passing 10/- per ton through the farmers' hands in order to swell their profits has a factory in Londonderry, and that particular factory is going to be subsidised for any manure it may send into Donegal. Why should that particular factory be treated in a privileged way? Simply because some member of the manure ring in Dublin owns that factory in Londonderry. That is the only reason given by the Minister why that particular factory should be subsidised. There is no doubt about it that if a decent sum of money was put into this scheme it would be money well spent by the country, and public money could not be spent to better advantage.
Deputy Corry, I am sure, felt he was putting me in a very awkward position when he suggested that I should be asked my opinion about wheat. I will tell you honestly what my opinion is. The wheat scheme is all wrong so far as its administration goes. People all over the country anywhere and on every type of land are being encouraged and induced to grow wheat. But there is not a big percentage of land in this country suitable for wheat production. Poor land will not produce a decent crop of wheat, nor produce wheat at a reasonable profit even at a guaranteed price. Low-lying land and land in an elevated position have the disadvantage that it is very doubtful if the wheat will ripen there in time. That is one of the reasons for the failure of the wheat crop all over the country. There is a type of advertisement in the newspapers where one sees the farmer stuffing a lot of notes into his pocket, following on his selling a bountiful crop of wheat——
How did Deputy Hughes get on with it?
——and thereby unfortunate people are induced to grow wheat irrespective of the sort of land they have, irrespective of its situation and of whether it is low-lying land or whether it is in a highly exposed, elevated situation. As a result of that sort of propaganda you have failures in the wheat crop all over the country because of the unsuitability of the land.
Did not Deputy Hughes have 14 barrels to the acre last season?
As far as I am concerned I am not running away from that sort of thing. I am not that type of man. I have grown wheat successfully, I have no doubt a lot more successfully than Deputy Corry has. I have not the slightest doubt about that. If he wants to grow wheat and if he will come down to my place I will show him how.
Show Deputy Dillon.
Deputy Dillon is not personally interested but Deputy Corry is. If Deputy Corry comes down to my place I will show him how. He does not know how to grow wheat. What I chiefly object to in this scheme is that the millers of the country are placed in the privileged position of robbing and exploiting the producers and consumers.
When speaking about this matter Deputy Corry shied off that side of the question. I am not ashamed to say that I made a profit on growing wheat. I was successful in growing it but everybody in this country including people living on poor, mountainy land, had to pay me, who happens to be living on better land, a levy for growing that wheat.
Will the Deputy get away now from the policy of wheat growing which does not arise on this Vote?
Well, Sir, I have been challenged on it and the challenge went across the House to me.
The Deputy has dealt sufficiently now with that challenge.
I am prepared to meet Deputy Corry any day on this wheat question.
Deputy Dillon took three quarters of an hour to condemn the wheat policy.
Deputy Dillon should have sought instruction from Deputy Kelly.
Well, I would make a better fist of it anyway than Deputy Dillon did.
There has been in the same way a miserable loan or grant for poultry houses. It has been pointed out here that there has been an appalling falling off in the income from the exports of eggs. Seven years ago we exported from this country £3,000,000 worth of eggs. That is what our export trade in eggs was worth. I notice Deputy Corry is leaving.
The Deputy has got to the hens now.
It would be a good job if Deputy Corry never came back.
Last year our export trade in eggs was worth only £750,000. That is an alarming falling off in seven years. When the new Agricultural Produce Bill was being discussed in this House we advocated that the Minister should seriously contemplate putting a decent sum of money into poultry houses. We are suffering to a great extent from bad and defective poultry houses, and from the lack of properly heated poultry houses in the winter when eggs are more valuable than in the summer period. If hens are not kept in warm, healthy fowl houses naturally they are not going to produce eggs. If the Minister were to put a decent sum of money into this scheme for the improvement of poultry houses there would be undoubtedly productive results from it. There is an enormous room for the development of our poultry industry. I believe that loans are not sufficient and they are not going to do much good; they will not induce many people to build poultry houses. The Minister for Industry and Commerce is going to put half a million of money into the tourist development business. If a sum like that were put into the poultry industry it certainly would give far better results than could any sum of money put into the development of the tourist traffic here.
There are just one or two questions which I want to put to the Minister. First of all I would like to know, as far as this subsidy on superphosphate goes, whether he is aware that merchants down the country carried over stocks of manures since last year? I know there are men who have ten or 20 tons of super over on their hands from last year. Will they benefit by the subsidy or will they have to sell their stock in hands at a loss? It would, in my opinion, be a great hardship if they have to do so. I would like if the Minister would clear up that point. I do not know if the Minister is aware that there is a scale of prices issued by the Dublin merchants. I have the list here and it shows that the price for January is £3 13s. 3d. a ton; February, £3 15s.; March, £3 16s. 9d. and April to June £3 17s. 6d. Now we never had a scale operating in this country when there was any competition. The Irish manufacturers themselves stuck by a flat rate. Because of competition the rate was a flat one. But the moment they got protection and had a monopoly the scale price rose from £3 13s. 3d. in January to £3 17s. 6d. in April to June. I do not think there is any justification for that scale. The figure of £3 13s. 3d. for January ought to obtain right through the season. If the Minister is going to grant monopolies to people he ought to have the courage to see that prices, to some little extent at all events, are right.
I am at the disadvantage that unfortunately I was not in the House when Deputy Dillon started to speak. Just as I entered the Chamber Deputy Dillon was expressing his sympathy with the farming community. He pointed out the duties of Deputies as far as the farming community was concerned. He suggested, as agriculture was our main industry, that all Deputies in this House should endeavour to do their best to help the agriculturists. I listened attentively to what he had to say and as he proceeded, although I could not say that his speech was very enlightening, it was, at all events, enlivening. It helped to add a little bit of life to the drab proceedings in the House. Before he finished, the Deputy changed his tune and decried the Government's wheat scheme. He had sympathy for the farmer in one breath and in the other he wanted to deny him the State assistance he is getting from the Government. So far as the wheat scheme is concerned, the Deputy was blowing hot and cold.
Deputy Hughes and Deputy Dillon tried to make a case for the admission of foreign phosphates free of duty. I purchased some which were guaranteed to contain 35 per cent., of soluble phosphate in 1925. It happened to be 5/- per ton less than the home product. As a result of my experience I will never again buy foreign phosphate, no matter what the price. They do not give within 50 per cent. of the results to be obtained from the home-manufactured article. I certainly would not buy the foreign phosphates now. Deputy Hughes dealt a good deal with the fertility of the soil, and with the policy of his Party some years ago so far as the farmers are concerned. The records show that financial assistance given to the farmers by the previous Administration did not reach anything like the amount given by this Government. I challenge contradiction on that.
I would feel happier if the provision under the first sub-head of this Supplementary Estimate was larger than it is. It can be said, at any rate, that it is a start in the right direction. If the Deputies on the opposite benches are serious in their efforts to help the agricultural community they should not be declaring that this is a miserable scheme. If they were earnest in what they say they would encourage farmers to avail of its provisions. By doing so they would be helping agricultural production, the farming community and the country as a whole. If, as Deputy Hughes says, the farmers are not cultivating their land in as efficient a manner as they might, I hold that the responsibility for that falls largely on the Deputies opposite, because they have tried consistently to discourage farmers from taking advantage of schemes put forward by this Government.
I am glad that this subsidy is being confined to the Irish fertilisers. After all, when money is to be spent, it should be kept in the country as far as possible. I would appeal to Deputies opposite not to be minimising the advantages of schemes brought forward in the interests of the agricultural community. We all realise that agriculture is our major industry, and that it deserves all the support, financial and otherwise, that we can give it. But the full benefits of any schemes will not be realised if certain people go round the country trying to dissuade farmers from availing of them. I think it is the duty of all members of the House to encourage farmers to avail of all those schemes, and thus help to put the world's first industry and our country's greatest industry in the foremost place.
I had hopes some time ago, following a preliminary announcement by the Minister on this matter, that he had at least got his feet in the ground and was about to take his courage, so to speak, in his hands; that, irrespective of what his past may have been or that of his Party, and God knows it is not a past to be proud of so far as agriculture is concerned, he would at least realise that this is an agricultural country, largely dependent upon live stock. The Minister realises that now. Having realised that, I thought he would also have the courage to say that the fertility of the soil must be improved to produce more and better live stock. I was sadly disappointed when I saw the proposal to give a subsidy of 10/- per ton on manure. I do not regard any money given for manure as a subsidy at all; I regard it as a national investment. The Minister for Finance, whose opinions on agriculture, I fear, I never valued, recently placed himself at the mercy of the Minister for Agriculture. I am sure the Minister for Agriculture will make the case that £40,000 was as much as he could get from the Department of Finance for this purpose. At a meeting of the Institute of Bankers recently, the Minister for Finance said that the future of this country would depend on the export of agricultural produce into the one market we had—the British market. That is not my statement, though I said it often enough; it is the statement of the Minister for Finance. What do we export to the British market? We do not export potatoes——
Very little. Live stock is what we export. When the Minister for Finance goes about the country mouthing sympathy with the farmers, and telling of the advances that could be made by greater productivity, he should not refuse the wherewithal for the improvement of the soil, with a view to that greater productivity. I should like to know what was at the back of the mind of the Minister for Agriculture when he thought of this scheme. I had thought that there would be such a scheme of subsidies as would induce a man—particularly a poor man —to double or treble the amount of manure he was putting on. The price of the best superphosphate in Roscommon is £4 14s. 6d. per ton. Imagine the Minister for Agriculture saying to the small farmer in Roscommon, "We are conferring a great benefit on you by giving you your ton of manure at £4 4s. 6d." That is no use. It is not going to induce him to apply an extra pound of manure. The man who can find £4 4s. 6d. will find £4 14s. 6d. But as for inducing the small farmer to spread more manure, this scheme will be of no benefit whatever. It might be a benefit to the man who was putting on four tons of manure in the year. He might add half a ton; or the man putting on eight tons might put on an additional half ton.
The Minister said some time ago that what he had in mind was the cheapening of manures for grass lands. I agree with him. That is what he ought to have in mind. There are 8,000,000 acres of grass land in the country, and, if you divided the £40,000 amongst them, it would not amount to a penny per acre. If we trace the history of that one item—cattle—which stands to us better than anything else, what do we find? That the calves are reared by the small farmers. If we want to put the small farmer in a position to rear five calves where he was only able to rear three heretofore, can we do anything better than say to him "You can have two tons of manure for the price of one"? That would be a national investment and not a subsidy or loan. There is no use in Deputy Meaney or Deputy Kelly saying that everybody knows that agriculture is our main industry. If we know that, why do we not act on it? If agriculture is our main industry, then the wealth of the country is in the soil. Are we satisfied that the soil is producing to capacity? Everybody knows that the soil is being robbed—completely robbed. We know that it is difficult for the Fianna Fáil Party and the Government to attune themselves to the conditions they now see. We are no longer living in the fools' paradise sketched by the Taoiseach here in 1928, when he said he wanted to see the country with a big wall around it, without ingress or egress. That was his idea of self-sufficiency. We have got away from that. The Minister for Finance and the Minister for Agriculture have got away from it. That is something for which to be thankful. We are learning as we go on.
Think of the position in which we are now. There is an opportunity for taking advantage of the British market while there is money there. This is the time to get in. There is no use in trying to get in when the money is gone. I am not a prophet, but we all know the spending that is proceeding on certain lines in practically all the countries of the world. We, ourselves, are to spend practically £1,000,000 on war materials, and we are offered £40,000 as a subsidy on artificial manures to make the soil more productive, and enable us to pay our way. We are to spend £1,000,000 on guns for —I do not know what. I suppose it was too much to expect that the Minister for Agriculture would stand up for what were his new convictions. I thought he had come to the point where he realised where we were. The Minister for Finance, who is a city man, realises that if we are to stand the racket, if we are to make up for the reduction in our foreign investments, we must have greater productivity and more agricultural exports. How are you going to have them? You are not going to get them by a subsidy of £40,000 for manures. Why should we confine ourselves to the products of Irish factories if the Irish factories are not able to meet our demands? Would it be any loss to Irish factories if there was such a scheme of subsidisation as would enable the farmers—particularly the small farmers—to double or treble the amount of fertilisers? Are the Irish fertiliser factories more important than the people of the country? It is like the "codology" we were treated to about Deputy Hughes making money out of wheat. Who wants individuals to make money out of the rest of the community? There are people who make money out of wheat at the expense of the poor. How many people are growing it? How many are making fertilisers? We want to get this country into such a condition that it will produce more, and that it will produce a better article. How are you going to do that? This will not do it.
If the Minister for Agriculture thinks that the subsidy of 10/- a ton is going to induce people, and particularly the small farmer, to do all he expects, then he is very much mistaken. The small farmer is the man who wants one ton of manure; he is the man who feeds the calves more than anybody else. The Minister possibly does not like calves. People are very often haunted by the ghosts of those they have slain. With all that, if the Minister did the decent thing over this I would be inclined to kill a fatted calf for him to celebrate the prodigal's return; but that has not come yet. If the Minister had any real interest in the small farmers, whom he and his Party pretend to represent——
And do represent.
——they would not bring in that type of Estimate, which will enable the man who buys eight tons of manure to benefit, but the man who buys one ton will not be in a position to take advantage of it. This is no inducement to him. Deputy Corry talked about manure manufacturers, and I was wondering what was the significance of it. I think the significance was entirely lost on Deputy Corry. The meaning of the whole thing was quite different from the meaning Deputy Corry took out of it. Deputy Corry said foreign manure dropped 10/- a ton immediately the Minister announced his scheme. What is the meaning of that? It does not mean anything more to me than that the whole lot of them were in a ring. If the Minister was convinced that there was something in his scheme of subsidisation for fertilisers, and if somebody has prevented him putting that scheme into operation, he ought to announce that, or else, if his own Executive has prevented him doing it, he ought to resign off the Executive. This whole thing is a pretence and a sham. I do not agree with Deputy Dillon in regard to this thing. He says it will do some good, but I do not see that it will do any good at all. The people we want to get at are the small farmers, but this will not get anywhere.
There is another matter to which I wish to refer. Loans and grants will be issued for agricultural purposes. There will also be loans for the purchase or erection of poultry houses, and the amount is given as £500. I hope the Minister will tell us more about the money provided for poultry houses and will inform the House if the Department still adheres to the scheme they circulated, that whatever loans are given out in this manner they have to be repaid within three or four years. If the Minister thinks that is going to be a success, if he thinks any woman who goes in for fowl and gets a loan of £15 to build a poultry house will be able to pay back £5 a year in the first three years, when she is endeavouring to establish her little industry, he is making a big mistake. Nobody will be prepared to chance it. If anybody is to take advantage of the scheme, the repayments will have to be spread over a longer period.
I do not want to say much about the importation of wheat. We have it here in a small way and I do not wish to talk about wheat schemes generally, but at any rate it arises. Do you know what my opinion of wheat-growing is? I grow it, although I must admit I had not any this year or last year. Anybody can grow wheat in this country when the people pay him for it at the price they are being charged. But I submit it is a national loss. Do you know what wheat-growing is? It is a war-time measure and nothing else. If a man can make equally good money at anything else without a loss to the community, why should he not do it and why should that carrot be held out to him? If the Ministry felt that we were in a crisis and that certain things should be done and that wheat should be grown, we ought to grow it, but unless we are bitten by the war bug I do not see anything in it except to compel people to pay double what they ought to pay for flour. A very small number grow wheat. How many farmers grow it in comparison with the number of people who are paying £1 a sack too much for the flour?
I am very dissatisfied with the scheme the Minister has brought in. The main thing in the Estimate that matters to the people is the subsidy for artificial manure. It was the one thing upon which I had pinned some faith in the Minister. I felt he was going to do something for the small farmers. We are a nation of small farmers. With the exception of two or three countries, if you went to find out from the Census the number of people under £15 valuation you would be amazed. These people will reap nothing at all out of this proposal. The Government could as easily find £1,000,000 for this as for guns for the Army, but they will not do it. The Minister for Finance can tell the people at a bankers' dinner that the right thing to do is to increase productivity. He ought not to be allowed to refuse proper assistance to agriculture and I do not think he would have the cheek to do it if it was properly put up to him. I am afraid the Minister for Agriculture never had the courage to stand up to his post. Even Deputy Corry had to complain about people who brought wheat into the country, at his instigation, seed wheat, and sold it to the Irish mills as Irish wheat at 10/- or 12/- a barrel more than they paid for it, and they got away with it. If we have any belief at all our belief is in live stock; it is in the soil, and let us try to put more into it in order to get more out of it. The Minister is not helping us to do that.
Deputy Meaney asked that Deputies on this side of the House should help this scheme along. One would almost imagine that this scheme for giving £40,000 as a subsidy towards the sale of artificial manures was some new brain-wave which the Minister had suddenly acquired. Again and again— this is the second time to-day I have got up in this House—I have said that I am glad that Fianna Fáil is doing the right thing. I am sorry that it has taken so many years to drive the right thing into the heads of Fianna Fáil Ministers. Why, it is over four years since I myself put down a motion in this House stating that, owing to the way the Fianna Fáil Party had dealt with agriculture, it was a matter of necessity, if the fertility of the soil was to be preserved, that help should be given to the farmers in the purchase of artificial manures. Then the Minister was dead against any such idea. Then the Minister's chief satellite was dead against any such idea. It has taken four years, during which the fertility of the soil has been steadily deteriorating, to bring the Minister to recognise the necessity of taking such a course.
Let us take this Estimate as it stands. Forty thousand pounds is a matter of very small importance. Forty thousand pounds is going to do very little, indeed, to help Irish farmers in restoring to the soil the fertility which the economic war, promoted by the benches opposite, took from it. The Minister should be aware that, certainly in the West of Ireland and I believe all over the poorer parts of the country, three or four seasons' crops of meadow were taken off land to which no manure had been applied. The land has deteriorated and it would take a tremendous amount of manure to get that land back into the condition of fertility in which it was before Fianna Fáil came into office. What do we get? We get simply a sum of £40,000 at the rate of 10/- per ton on superphosphate, semsol and ground mineral phosphates and 5/- per ton on complete and compound manures. I should like to know from the Minister if, as I understood, one of his ideas was that grass-land and meadow-land should be improved, why the Minister has left out the most important manure for second class and indeed for any class of grazing land.
Anybody who has tried, let me say, semsol or ground mineral phosphate as against basic slag, will know that basic slag is far and away better, out in a class by itself, for the improvement of land. The great thing about basic slag is the way it brings out clovers on second class land, especially white clover. Surely the Minister cannot deny that on any land, especially land of a moory nature, basic slag simply works a revolution. I can say from many years' experience of putting out basic slag on land, very second class land, and seeing how it has improved, that it is superior and that it retains that improvement for many years.
Experiments do not bear that out.
I do not care what the Minister's experiments are. I know my own personal experience. I say that basic slag is more suitable, especially on land of a moory nature.
It is not more efficient.
I say it is more efficient.
The experiments do not show that.
Does the Minister say that it is less efficient?
No, it is just as good.
I differ from the Minister. Even assuming that it is only just as good, why is it ostracised in this instance?
Because it is too dear.
Suppose you take the tax off it, will it be too dear?
It would be much dearer than phosphates.
No, if you take the tax off. There are other crops for which, as the Minister and his Department know, experiments have shown that basic slag is superior to phosphates. Take, for instance, the growing of turnips on land which is infected with finger and toe. Basic slag is very beneficial on land infected with the germ of that disease.
Lime is the best in that case.
The lime is in the basic slag. You can get your ground lime in your basic slag whereas superphosphate not merely contains no lime, but it is really a manure which tends to make land sour. The Minister knows that very well. However I am not going into an argument on agricultural chemistry, an argument into which the Minister has driven me by his interruptions.
I only meant to help.
Well, I hope I have helped the Minister. Seemingly I have given him a lot of very sound information which he had not before.
I forget it completely.
Passing away from that question to deal with the subsidy for fertilisers, I may say that that is a proposal of which I approve thoroughly. It is a scheme which should be conducted on a very big scale and a real effort should be made by the Government to get the land of the country back to a proper state of fertility. Now surely when one hears all over the House, of late days at any rate, an admission that agriculture is the foundation of our national life, that the agricultural industry is the industry upon which the whole State depends, it is the height of folly, criminal folly, to tax the raw materials of that industry. If you want to have an industry flourishing, if you want an industry to go ahead and expand, one thing you must do is to try to get its raw materials as cheaply as you possibly can. The idea of saying that we want to encourage industry, while at the same time we tax the raw material of that industry is simply absurd. Yet that is the attitude which was taken up by the Minister and, in the course of the debate, was also taken up by that eminent agriculturist, Deputy Kelly. It is entirely and absolutely unsound. If you want to have Irish agriculture put upon its feet you must at the present moment not only take all taxes off the raw material of that industry but you should subsidise, and subsidise to a very considerable extent, the raw material of that industry. Sir, you will be relieved to hear that I am not going to mention the word "wheat." I will pass on to another part of the Estimate.
I am not aware that I spoke to-night on the Estimate at all.
But the Deputy interrupted.
That is a different thing. I made no speech.
I am sure that, in the words of an old song dealing with the City of Dublin, when fine cabbages are grown in Dame Street the Deputy will be the finest agriculturist of the lot. I am afraid I have forgotten the exact words of it now, but the Deputy, who is an old Dublin scholar, will know them. It is a well-known song.
His opinions on wheat growing were very useful.
I will come down to Appropriations-in-Aid.
With regard to the Appropriations-in-Aid, this is money returned; there is no money being passed.
Oh, I beg your pardon. It is a deficiency in Appropriations-in-Aid. Look at sub-head P-Add Deficiency in Appropriations-in-Aid. The deficiency in Appropriations-in-Aid is the main item which we are voting on here. It is due to the fact that the Minister's estimate of what would be available as Appropriations-in-Aid has fallen short by the enormous sum of £230,000. We discover that there is a falling-off of £148,500 under the receipts in connection with the administration of the Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Acts. It was estimated, I take it——
Even though there may have been a falling-off in the estimated amount for Appropriations-in-Aid in those particular items, actually there is no money asked for those items in the sum that we are discussing here.
Well, Sir, unless I have entirely misread the Estimate, there is £229,000. Does not the Minister agree with that? We are asking for the deficiency in Appropriations-in-Aid, £229,655; that is at least as I understand it. The total Vote is £173,472; there were savings of £319,490 on the general Estimate, but we have to vote the sum of £229,655, because the Appropriations-in-Aid have fallen that amount below the Estimate.
One of the reasons, the Minister told us, was the recoupment of part of the costs of veterinary inspection of old and uneconomic cows, so we are back at Roscrea again. In regard to that prime performance of the Minister, which cost the State the enormous sum of money which it did cost the State— £250,000 or a little more when everything is added up-we thought we had finally got to the end of the amount of the taxpayers' money, which was to be poured into the pockets of the owners of the Roscrea factory. But here we discover that we have not even up to date got rid of Roscrea, and that we have got to pay another £500 to veterinary inspectors there because they did not——
The Deputy is entirely wrong.
I understood that from what the Minister stated.
It is a pity the Deputy did not listen to the explanation.
I did listen.
I explained that since the agreement closed we naturally were getting no recoupment from them for veterinary inspection.
Have you paid any veterinary inspectors?
Of course, not. We would not pay them for doing nothing.
Where is the saving shown in this Estimate?
If the Deputy will look at the beginning of the Estimate, he will see that under O (9) and O (11) there are saving of £65,000 and £212,000 respectively. If the Deputy will look at the face of the Estimate he will see those figures just under the total.
Yet O (11) is here put down at £234,000. Is it not?
No-not O (11) alone. It is O (9) and O (11) taken together. Sales of butter and eggs come under O (9).
Does the Minister say that the £148,000 was simply due to the fact that he expected to buy cattle and did not buy them?
That is right, because the Germans are buying them now themselves.
I am very glad the Minister has made that plain, because he did not do so in his opening statement.
I think when the Deputy reads it he will find I did.
The Minister certainly did not make it plain to me in his opening statement.
I am sorry, but I thought I did.
As far as this fertiliser scheme, which is the main thing, is concerned, I am glad that the Minister has made a start. I am glad that he is now in a position to state that he has been converted to the view that Irish agriculture requires financial assistance as far as getting the raw material is concerned. I hope that having come to that conclusion, and having given up the theory for which he battled for so many years, the Minister will at some time or other during the course of this present year bring forward a revised and better Estimate. I hope that when he introduces his Agricultural Estimate, he will make this offer to help by subsidy the sale and purchase of artificial manures a general reality.
A Leas-Chinn Chomhairle: all sides of the House are agreed that anything which will increase the productivity of the soil will add to the wealth of the nation, and, therefore, the move that the Minister has made is a step in the right direction. However, anybody who looked into the statistics showing the acreage of grass land and tillage in this country would have imagined that there was a misprint, and that it was £400,000 the Minister meant to give instead of £40,000, which if it was availed of by every farmer in this country would certainly give a very disappointing amount of help. But there is this hope, that the Minister may only be trying it out as an experiment, and that next year or when he comes to consider the general Estimate he will give a very much larger sum, which will add to the wealth of the country. Those who have used artificial manures on land know what an important item it is in farming economy. Farmers who do not use artificial manures in order to fertilise the soil are simply clogging work on the land.
There is a large factory in my constituency, that of Messrs. Goulding, and I am naturally anxious that everything should be done to foster the production of that factory, so long as the prices fixed are economic. The Minister, when considering giving a subsidy for manures, should remember that that might be a dangerous thing, unless there was a certain amount of price control, because a subsidy might very easily go in the wrong direction without such control. Deputy Meaney referred to the difference in the quality of foreign superphosphates and home-produced superphosphates. The only way to find the difference is in the texture. Naturally every farmer who experiments takes good care to see that the analyses of the manures he uses on his land are all right. If the analyses of the foreign and the home products are identical, then the only difference is in the texture. I must say this much for the home-produced commodity, that it is placed on the market in fresh condition, and free from that rougher character that some other manures possess. The first thing to be done, however, is to let the land have the manure, as, if we can do anything to cheapen agricultural production, it will add to the wealth of the country. The way to add to that wealth is to cheapen overhead charges. The Government that is going to explore means of reducing overhead expenses of agriculturists will be helping development in the great national factory, the land. I consider that this is only an experimental step. Surely if defence and other forms of enterprise are helped with large sums of money, the industry that will increase production more than anything else is the one that should engage the special attention of the Minister.
Undoubtedly, the Minister for Agriculture should be the most important Minister on the Government Benches. He is the one we all look to for that relief which is absolutely essential to agriculture. We should not forget that farmers have not been able to make use of artificial manures in recent years because they had not the money to buy them or to pay rates and land annuities. As they had not the money to carry on agricultural activities on their farms, they were not able to get cheap means of encouraging production. In addition, they were not able to give the land farmyard manure, because they had no live stock. The result is that the land is less fertile. That is a point that should engage the attention of the Minister and his advisers when framing their future agricultural policy. We cannot ignore the important fact that grass lands have deteriorated, having in some cases been laid down with bad seeds.
As Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney pointed out, an essential thing, basic slag, has been left out of this particular scheme. I feel that the use of basic slag should be encouraged. If the Minister thinks it too dear, then he should explore the reasons and find a method to enable farmers to get back to a solid agricultural economy. It is most important that pure lines of seeds for cereals should be imported, and I ask the Minister to try to remove some of the difficulties that are clogging the progress of agriculture in that respect. I had a letter from a merchant in Midleton complaining that he had been refused a licence to import seed for cereals.
Is that in connection with the importation of seed wheat? If not, it is not covered by the Estimate.
Surely to goodness, when we require everything that will help to encourage production, as the Minister is present, that matter can be discussed.
The Deputy should remember that he is to discuss particularly the Supplementary Estimate, and not agricultural policy as a whole.
Am I not entitled to refer the Minister to matters that are obstructing the importation of seed oats?
The Deputy should confine himself to the Supplementary Estimate.
The importation of good strains of wheat is very important. This was a great wheat growing country at one time, and it must be a matter of surprise to farmers to-day to know how those who went before us were able to grow very large crops, seeing that times were not very different to what they are now. If certain good strains of seed wheat were imported, I think that that would add to the fertility of the soil, taken in connection with an increase in the subsidy. I ask the Minister to bear that question in mind when bringing in another Estimate.
It only remains for me to emphasise the fact that a subsidy of 6d. per cwt. is not going to increase the supply of wheat, nor to offer any inducement to farmers to improve their land by the increased use of artificial manures. Such an inadequate subsidy is regarded by the average small farmer as an insult.
I am glad that the Minister, like his colleagues, has learned or, at least, has given expression to a lesson learned for the last six or seven years, but that was disguised or obscured from the knowledge of this House. On many occasions I stated here that while I, personally, supported the policy of wheat growing, I disapproved of the policy being pursued by the Government.
It is hard to be on both sides.
It is easy to be on the right side, and the Government is endeavouring to get back there now by a back door. The growing of wheat was not an agricultural proposition as carried out under the Minister's ministry. It was wheat-ranching. Year after year, wheat was grown on the same land during the last six or seven years, and the increase in wheat growing was due to wheat-ranching, not to the ordinary methods of husbandry. The Minister will not deny that. I have said here on many occasions that there was no difference between the manner in which wheat was grown and how the soil was robbed—there was no difference between that and a highwayman who would go into a bank manager and demand of him to hand money across the counter—no difference whatever. The Minister has now realised that. His Government have realised it. Other members of the Government— after their colleagues had said the British market was gone for ever, thank God—have now told us that the British market is our only market, after the Minister had hawked his wares around Europe. Even the few Reds we had in this country sent bulls to Barcelona and Valencia. Now we are recognising it, but another day will come for that.
The Minister now realises that there is only one market. He realises that the soil of the country has been robbed of its fertility, and he offers to restore that fertility by the paltry sum of £40,000, appropriately explained by Deputy Hughes, that it was about a penny an acre to grass land. Let the Minister, when he is replying, tell us how much grass land there is, and how far a penny an acre on that grass land will go to improve the quantity and quality of the herbage on that pasture land. Now, I understand that the subsidy is on super-potassic, super and semsol. He is not allowing it on potash or ammonia. Am I correct in that?
And why? The three ingredients of manure are phosphates, potash and ammonia. Any good farmer with regard to manures is going to handle his manures just as any good farmer will handle his feeding stuffs, and it was because of that that I was always against this compound mixture promoted by people who never fed cattle successfully. We pass away from that. Now, he is going to give a subsidy to a compound manure, and he will not give a subsidy to the ingredients of that compound manure, the three mainstays of a well-balanced manure, to give the intelligent progressive farmer the same privilege that he will give the other type of farmer. The Minister knows that every progressive farmer in this country mixes his own manures, and men who mix their own manures differ very widely, according to their land, and according to their experience in the ratios by which they mix the manure. I suppose the Minister is aware of this, that in European countries, it is possible for a farmer to go to the Ministry of Agriculture there. Just as if a cow was sick you send for a vet., he will go and diagnose and treat that cow, similarly, the Minister for Agriculture will send out an expert to diagnose the soil, give advice on what that soil is lacking and, following on that, manures can be mixed to supply the deficiencies of that soil.
Does not the county committee do that here?
The county committee?
I am surprised at the Minister making such a remark.
I know they do.
And how have they the competent machinery to do it?
Perhaps the Deputy's county committee does not do it. Some of the others do.
What county committee has the machinery to do that?
I know the Wicklow County Committee does it, for instance.
The Wicklow County Committee? Does it analyse the soil?
It sends it for analysis, if you ask them.
If I send a card to the Minister's Department and say, "I have a field that I want to sow any crop in," will he send out a man to take away the soil, analyse it, and send me back a recipe for manure?
I can tell the Deputy that a farmer in the County Wicklow can write to the county committee of agriculture and say, "I would like to get advice about what manure I should put on a certain field, for a certain crop." They will send their official to take a sample and analyse it, and tell you what to do with it. If the Deputy's county committee is not doing that, I do not know who is to blame.
I can tell the Minister that that cannot be done.
I know it is done.
Would it surprise the Minister to know it cannot be done?
Deputy Belton is making a speech and we had better not start interrupting him.
I would like to clear up the Minister's mind on that matter.
My mind is perfectly clear on it.
He does not know what he is talking about.
I know. I saw it done.
A few years ago—I will not mention the official's name, but he is one of the principal men in the Minister's Department—I met an officail at Mass. We rambled up to a field of about 20 acres that I was manuring on the grass and it had not been tilled for 40 years. I said to him what I have just said to the House. He said, "I am afraid you will wait a long time, Mr. Belton, before we will have reached that stage in this country." I am sure we have not reached it yet and no manure manufacturer ever attempted it in this country except a syndicate from France and Belgium that started a few years ago here. They would do it and they did it but they were crushed out—the Irish Novo Company.
Let us assume that it can be done, that does not affect my point, whether it can or cannot be done. In fact, it goes to strengthen my argument. It can be done, of course, if the Minister says it is done, and he has machinery for doing it. I accept that. Will the Minister agree with this, that, to do it scientifically, no two soils will require exactly the same compound, that nitrates, phosphates and potash will be in different proportions, according to the deficiencies in the soil? Is not that the position?
And why do you not give a rebate, then, upon the ingredients that are necessary to make a suitable compound mixture?
I will tell the Deputy that later. I will answer that.
I have drawn sufficient attention to it that you will mention it in your reply?
I am satisfied, so. I would appeal to the Minister to consider that and consider it favourably. I do not want to classify myself as a good farmer, but I would rather lose the 10/- on any compound mixture. I would prefer to lose and mix it myself than to take any compound mixture. So, I would appeal to the Minister to consider that the potash and ammonia get the maximum subsidy and give people who will go to the trouble an opportunity of carrying out their own methods. There are many rough and, ready ways of analysis. It can be done on the head of an old shovel, good enough for practical purposes.
And to those who will go to the trouble, I would appeal to the Minister to give them an opportunity of carrying out their own methods of manuring their land. I do not think that there is much more to be said about it, except that, for this year the Minister is only allocating £40,000.
For this financial year.
Yes, but this is 1938-39. You know, anything that will be done by March means this coming year.
There is nothing after that but mangels and turnips and beet.
It is true, perhaps, that purchases would be made, but our payments would not be made.
If it has increased, all the better. The Minister, however, mentioned a sum of £100,000. Personally, I would rather see derating or some big thing like that done for the farmers so as to give them a fair chance rather than the spoon-feeding, but if we are to have spoon-feeding, I should like the Minister to use a bigger spoon than he is using. A sum of £100,000 would not be enough as a subsidy in this matter because, as the Minister will appreciate, much of this country has gone into rushes. There are minor and major drainage schemes which are helping to banish the rushes, but, in addition, you want manure.
I have great sympathy with what Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney said about basic slag. There is a large lime content in it, or, at least, it does the work which lime does on land. I am sure that basic slag, if applied in time, is a much better dressing than semsol. For a crop for this coming year, semsol is better than basic slag at this stage, but if basic slag were applied last November, it would give better results this coming year than semsol applied at any time. I am sure the Minister will agree with that. With regard to lime, I put a question to the Minister the other day and he spoke of a subsidy of 1/- a barrel, or 8/- a ton. The Minister will appreciate that 8/- a ton on slag lime represents 100 per cent. of the price, while 8/- a ton on good fresh roach lime would represent about one-quarter or one-fifth of the price. I think the Minister should increase the subsidy for lime, or give it only to roach lime.
There should be an encouragement to people to use lime, especially in the areas in which the Government is spending a lot of money on drainage, because the best dressing for land that has been drained is a good lime dressing. It is not fair to the State to give 8/- a ton subsidy on the refuse from the lime kilns because I can get as much as I want of that stuff delivered to me for 8/- a ton, and if I were to put that on land, and get the Minister's 8/- subsidy, he would be paying the whole price of the lime for me. That is obviously not fair. On the other hand, 8/- a ton is not a sufficient subsidy for good fresh roach lime which will cost 35/- to 40/- a ton delivered. It is only the roach lime, hot from the kiln, that will do a first-class job on wet land which has been recently drained, and I suggest that the Minister should consider increasing the subsidy, or confining it to freshly burned lime, or graduating it and giving the maximum amount to freshly burned lime because it will then work out at an equal proportion of the total cost. In that case, of course, he will have the trouble of supervision.
We have a good deal to say about wheat growing and I would be tempted to test the Chair on that question, but we are on the eve of the Estimates and we will have sufficient latitude to discuss wheat growing and the growing of other crops, together with general policy, when the Estimates come before us. Finally, I strongly appeal to the Minister to give the full amount of subsidy for potash and ammonia. He may have a very good reason for it, but I should like to know what it is. If we are not producing those things in this country, it is no reason why we should not get a subsidy, if the intention behind this is to improve the fertility of the soil. We cannot improve the fertility of the soil on a manure which is not fully balanced, just as we cannot relish a dinner of all potatoes, all cabbage or all meat. We want a balanced food. So it is with soil and if the Minister wants a properly balanced food, and is giving a subsidy for it, he should give it for the various ingredients that go to make a good compound and a good, properly balanced manure.
In this Estimate, there is really only one sub-head that needs the immediate attention of the Government, sub-head G (3), fertiliser schemes. It was not my intention to take part in the debate at this late hour were it not that I have been interviewed by farmers on a few occasions in the past month or two, and particularly since the Minister made the statement that he was to give 10/- per ton reduction in respect of one manure and 5/- in respect of another. My reason for intervening is that we have two industries down in the West of Ireland which, I learn from the farmers down there, have been suffering very much for want of manure. They are the beet and potato industries. I have also been told by these farmers that this 10/- per ton is being given on the wrong manures for tillage purposes, that it is principally given for grass and the 5/- for manures for tillage purposes. I cannot see the idea of that where you have beet and potato industries and alcohol factories, and in view of the fact that the Minister and his Government were not interested in grass. It is a good sign, at the same time, to see the Minister realising the mistake of his Government when they said there was no further use for live stock.
What was that?
That there was no further use for live stock in this country.
When did I say that?
The Minister and members of his Party said it. What did ex-Senator Connolly say?
Would the Deputy be responsible for what his Party says? God forgive him!
So the Minister is not responsible for it?
I am responsible for what I said myself and I would advise the Deputy to stick to that line, too.
Is the Minister even responsible for what he says at the present day? He stated, and it was reported in the public Press, three weeks ago, that the yield of the potato crop for 1938 was up to the average of 1937.
Did I say that?
The Irish Press said that the Minister said that. Is it a fact?
It is very late for Deputies to be wandering into other matters now.
The Minister says he is responsible only for what he says himself.
And the Deputy's responsibility is to talk on the Estimate.
On the question of manures, this £40,000 for fertilisers is of no use, and the Minister knows very well that it is of no use. I should like the Minister to state in his reply whether the acreage of beet for 1937 was greater or less for the Tuam factory than the acreage for 1938, that is, the acreage under beet for 1938 as compared with 1937. I think that the 1938 crop suffered more than the 1937 crop for the reason that the crop did not get sufficient manure.
The same applies to England.
The Minister need not tell us that. Anything that applies to England applies to this country now. However, there is one crop that I know well, and that is the potato crop. In 1937 and 1938 we had about 10,000 acres grown in part of Galway. The tonnage exported on the 1937 crop was 5,000 tons, whereas the most that could be exported of the 1938 crop is 3,000 tons. If the Minister enquires of any farmer in the West of Ireland or any of his inspectors, he will find out that the reduction in tonnage to the acre, for certified seed potatoes for export purposes is from 6½ tons to 4 tons per acre. That is the position there. Of course, the Minister might say that we had bad weather, that we had too much rain and that the weather was not suitable for planting. Probably, he will also say that the farmers left their potatoes too long in the soil and the frost got at them, but the fact remains that the yield has been reduced from 6½ tons to 4 tons per acre from 1937 to 1938.
I want the Minister to take this matter seriously. He knows very well that the 1/- a bag or the 6d. a bag for phosphates, ammonia, and nitrate for tillage purposes, is no use to the farmer. He is also aware, from the losses that the farmer suffered during 1938, that the subsidy or benefit he is getting is of no use. The Minister is not taking this matter seriously. The Minister for Finance, in answer to a question last week, I think, said that up to £100,000 was being given for fertilisers, but then that includes what is being done by the agricultural committees, and so on, through the country. The Minister knows that the farmyard manure is being taken from the farmers, and the land requires more artificial manure to-day than it required two or three years ago, because the farmers have been deprived of the farmyard manure.
While not in any way opposing this Estimate, I feel that it falls far short of what it might, and could, have been. In fact, this very first item in the Estimate, about which we had so much talk, of £40,000 for a fertilising scheme in this country, seems shameful. It is awful to think that £40,000 would help even in the smallest way to fertilise the land of this country, especially after the last five or six years, when the Minister and everybody else in the House know that there were no fertilisers used for what he seemingly meant it for, on the grass lands of this country. Whatever fertiliser was used in the last five or six years was used to grow wheat or beet—purely artificial manuring—and this scheme, as the Minister has put it, looks as if it were for the purpose of fertilising grass lands. Others have commented on what £40,000 would do as regards fertilisers for about 8,000,000 acres of grass lands or more. The Minister must know that it is of no real use. Three or four months ago great things were expected when the Minister made a statement at some meeting that he was about to subsidise fertilisers, and everybody was waiting to hear about the great scheme, and now we get this thing of 10/- per ton. That may be all right for the man using about 100 tons of manure, but that would be a very small subsidy for the people who buy one, two or three tons in the year—in fact, two tons might be the more general.
Now, it is admitted by the Minister for Finance that we have to export more agricultural produce from this country in order to balance how things are going, and in order to receive more money here instead of the money that used to come from investments. The Minister for Finance has stated that we must produce more, and that the land must be made better. Is this the way you are going about making it better? I think it would have been better if this had not been introduced at all. I regard it as an awful mistake, and, while I welcome it, I should like to oppose that £40,000 as being altogether insufficient. I say it is foolish madness. It is like throwing something into the sea which never can be found. If you throw something into the ocean, you cannot find it, and I say that £40,000 for fertilisers on the land of this country is of no use at all. It should never have been thought of. Even if it had been twice as much—£1 a ton—it would not be much use. Then, take the question of lime. Lime is a thing that is dealt with through the county committees of agriculture, and there is a certain amount of money for it. Seemingly, there has never been proper respect for the land at all. I suggest that each particular area should be studied, and that the amount spent with regard to lime in certain areas should be added on to the £40,000 in the areas which require phosphates instead of lime. Deputy Belton referred to the three mixtures which, as he said, are mixed by all good farmers—phosphates and so on. There are two of those on which a subsidy is not given to its full extent. I would impress on the Minister that encouragement should be given to that type of farmer to buy their own stuff and mix it, as they have practical experience of dealing with their own lands.
Any good farmer at one time or another has tried the different ingredients and has a practical experience of them. Instead of helping the manufacturers, as this looks like doing, which I am sure is not the intention of the Minister, I think that he ought to see that every ounce of benefit that is got from this scheme should reach the people working the land. For that reason, I ask him to reconsider this matter from the point of view of lime and of the different manures and give the farmer a chance of getting the most benefit he can from the practical experience he has had. That is what the Minister, I am afraid, is not doing in this.
As I said in the beginning, the whole thing is no use whatever. We want to produce more. The Minister believes that and he wants to have a scheme of subsidy so far as the fertilisation of land is concerned. At the moment, we have more cattle than we had 12 months ago. We should try to increase our dairy cows even more. But what is going to feed them? It is admitted on all sides, I think, that grass is more profitable than anything else we might grow. No matter what else we grow, we will have to continue growing 8,000,000 acres of it, and about half that amount is nearly non-fertile at present. This £40,000 will be of no avail whatever. The Minister should say to the Minister for Finance: "You will have to give a lot more money to try to make the land fertile, to see that the cows produce more milk." Manures will do that.
Another matter which has been talked about a great deal to-night is wheat growing. I am not a lover of wheat growing; neither am I against it. I think the people, if they wish to grow wheat, should be allowed to do so, and I would encourage them to do it if they would do it. But I wonder what is the opinion of the Minister and the Department as to an economic price for wheat per barrel? Is £1 per barrel an economic price, in their opinion? I am afraid this wheat business is a war-time measure. I think it has been proved definitely this year that it is a war-time measure—the people here are being forced into growing wheat. I am not against growing wheat, but I am against growers not manuring the land properly.
They are not forced to grow it under this Estimate.
I am sorry if I have gone outside the Estimate.
The Deputy is just following a bad example.
I am sorry for that. I want to remind the Minister that without manures wheat cannot be grown. Without a big subsidy for manures wheat will not continue to be grown. Therefore I think the Minister should not spend any more money than he has spent already from public funds for the growing of wheat. The consumer is paying enough. I do not think there should be a penny in this Estimate for wheat because the public have paid too much already for the growing of it. But, because that is hidden, and because the people do not see it, it is supposed to be all right. Therefore I could not stand even for £5 being spent under this Estimate for the growing of wheat.
I would remind the Minister that with the number of cattle increasing in this country, and with better conditions being likely, more manure is wanted for the land. I ask him to impress on the Minister for Finance to give a big subsidy for manures in the next financial year in order that the fertility of the soil may be improved. There is no other way of doing it. No matter how much potatoes or other crops we may grow, our most valuable asset is grass. We have to depend on grass to increase the production of live stock. If we are to send live stock to the British market we must have good live stock, and there is no means of producing that live stock except by having good grass. I would, therefore, impress on the Minister the necessity for a big subsidy for manures.
I must say that I am very disappointed with this debate, although I suppose I should have sense by now. When a scheme is brought in here, be it ever so small, to confer some benefit on agriculture, we have the spokesman for the Party opposite —Deputy Dillon—making most nonsensical statements. Then we have had his satellite, Deputy Hughes, who should know a little more about agriculture, adopting the wise sayings of Deputy Dillon.
We know as much as the Minister.
We know as much as a dozen like him and that would not be saying a lot.
It would not. Deputy Hughes seems to resent that statement, but let him read his speech and point out to me if there was anything in it that Deputy Dillon had not already stated. Let him point out also if there is any sense in what Deputy Dillon or himself stated. I think it is all nonsense. Deputy Dillon and Deputy Hughes went over the same thing.
It is after midnight, so let us have some sense.
That is not my fault. It is the fault of the people opposite who talked so much nonsense. First of all, they say that this subsidy is going into the hands of Messrs. Goulding. But the price lists had gone out long before this scheme was thought about, and these price lists have been followed up by a discount of 10/- per ton.
Is the Minister satisfied that it is a competitive price?
I say that the price lists had gone out before this.
Is it a competitive price?
Yes. The price lists went out before Messrs. Goulding knew that any subsidy was being given, and they sent out what they considered a competitive price. When the subsidy was arranged, a circular was sent to the merchants, saying that 10/- per ton would be taken off whatever manures they received since September last, and that that discount was to be given to the farmers. So that the first thing Deputy Dillon said is not true. It is not a subsidy to Messrs. Goulding, but to the ultimate purchaser—the farmer.
Deputy Dillon's next point was: "Why not give this on imported super?" or "Why not take the tariff off imported super?" He said if the tariff were taken off imported super it could be sold here to the farmer at £2 10s. a ton. That means that it can be sold here now at £3 a ton. But, according to his own figures, with the subsidy on the home-manufactured material, it could be sold at £3 5s. or £3 7s. 6d. a ton if that is true. If the home-manufactured phosphates with this subsidy is going to cost £3 5s. to £3 10s. a ton and if the imported super is coming in at £3 a ton why not take it? It is obvious that Deputy Dillon will quote any figure. But the worst of it is that his figures will not add up properly when you take them down and they do not support his arguments. But though he gives figures that will not support his arguments you have his followers coming along and making the same statement that Deputy Dillon made because, as they argue themselves, what Deputy Dillon said must be true. That is the way Deputies opposite look at it. Then the Deputy said that we have borrowed the scheme from Great Britain. I am sure the other Deputies opposite hold the same view on that as Deputy Dillon did. But the fact is that we had the lime scheme here three years before Great Britain had it. Deputies may accuse Great Britain of borrowing from us. Anyway we did not borrow it from them, but they had a scheme of basic slag——
You borrowed that from us.
We got it from the Party opposite! If we had taken our policy from the Party opposite we would not be here now. The people would not have the Party opposite any longer, and if we had taken our policy from them we would not be here at all.
That is not in the Estimate.
No, but it is common sense all the same.
That is more than is in the Estimate.
Then we have been hearing that basic slag is better than phosphate. When bringing in the scheme, I inquired about whether we should include basic slag, and I found that basic slag was not inferior to ground phosphates. If basic slag was put on the land last December and if ground phosphates were put on now, it is possible that in the coming year basic slag, weight for weight, would be better than ground phosphates.
Yes, and that in the following year it would be better still.
No, but taking the years one with another.
I am taking it from your own Department. I got it yesterday and that is what they say.
I got it from the Department a week ago.
But they are only codding you.
Taking one year with another, weight for weight, and one type of land with another, they are about equal. But basic slag is much dearer than ground phosphates. To make basic slag as cheap as ground phosphates would cost very much more. Why are we giving it, therefore?
If you give a subsidy at the same rate to each, you could do better.
But suppose we give 10/- a ton to basic slag, then it would be found that basic slag would be dearer than the phosphates and it is not as good as the phosphates.
I do not think the Minister would convince any man who is using it that that is so.
Some farmers are prejudiced in favour of basic slag. Why should we encourage prejudice if it is against experience?
Is there not a pamphlet issued by the Minister's Department dealing with this and giving the result of the experiments? If so I would like to get the reference.
It may be in one of the journals.
I will meet you on that point on one of the general Estimates.
We are told that the fertility of the soil is on the down grade and perhaps it is. But let no farmer put the blame on the last six or seven years. The amount of fertilisers used in the country in the last three years is at the same rate as in 1931, 1932 and 1933. Some of these years were before we came into office.
Was there not much more used in tillage in those years?
I admit that the amount used in 1936 is down, but since then it has been as high.
But is not the Minister aware that at present there is no dressing put on grass lands?
I agree, but there was never enough artificial manures used in this country. When we bring in a scheme like this we bring it in solely in order to benefit the farmer. But Deputies opposite speak about these schemes in such a way that if farmers were to listen to them no farmer would be inclined to avail of any scheme put forward by us no matter how beneficial it may be to them. On this matter of manures, no farmer would buy artificial manure at all if he were to listen to Deputies opposite. They took up the same attitude on the Bacon Bill. They should not think so much of their own political future; they should think more of the country.
The farmers on these benches are using more artificial manures than any Deputies on the Government Benches.
Deputies should not put the case to the farmers that we are not doing anything to promote their industry. Deputies opposite should not try to prevent the farmers from getting all the advantages they can out of our schemes. They might forget politics and try to do something for the country. If they did that it would be better for the country generally. The Opposition ought to realise that whatever they do they cannot get back into office again.
That kind of thing will not wash. Let the Minister get on with the Estimate.
Deputy Hughes says that this scheme is a contemptuous one. Whatever scheme we bring in, no matter how beneficial, is, according to the Deputy, contemptuous; it is an insult to the people. This is an appeal from Deputy Hughes to the farmers of the country not to take advantage of the scheme. It is an appeal to let the land lie derelict and let the farmers get into a worse position. Then the Deputy thinks that, perhaps, as a result his Party would get a few additional votes.
And it is Deputy Hughes's fault that they are worse off than they were and not the fault of the Minister?
It is Deputy Hughes's fault because every scheme we bring in is opposed by the Party opposite. They realise now, I think, that they made a mistake four or five years ago in telling the farmers that pigs were not paying. Farmers do not keep accounts, and when they hear Deputy Hughes and Deputy Belton echoing everything that Deputy Dillon says they think there is something in it. Deputy Belton always supports everything that Deputy Dillon says.
I will show you a farm and how it is worked. It is a thing that you have not yourself.
I have a bit of a farm.
We have forgotten more about farming than the Minister ever learned.
Deputy Hughes has not forgotten about politics though and that is what I am talking about.
The Minister has not forgotten anything about politics.
The Deputies opposite have not forgotten anything about politics. They think that, by encouraging farmers not to adopt these schemes, they will keep the farmers discontented and perhaps turn them over to themselves. What is that but playing politics?
And to vote £3,000,000 for the defence of the Empire is good politics.
To defend Deputy Belton's property in Dublin.
Deputy Hughes said that this subsidy was contemptuous and an insult and that it would not go to the farmers at all. What is that but an appeal to the farmers not to buy manures under this scheme, an encouragement to them not to use fertilisers but let their land get worse and worse? If that happened, the Deputies on the opposite benches could cry out: "The farmers are down and out." They take up the same attitude with regard to every subsidy that is introduced. Deputy Hughes says that this subsidy offers no inducement to farmers to increase their purchases of artificial manures. The Deputy may look on Deputy Dillon as an expert on agriculture. He may think it good policy to repeat what Deputy Dillon says, but I think that Deputy Hughes should take a line of his own, and if Deputy Dillon wants to talk politics, well, that is no reason why he should follow him.
I do not think any such thing. I claim to know more about agriculture than either the Minister or Deputy Dillon.
I am glad to hear that. We have heard a great deal about this £40,000. The attitude taken up by the people opposite is this: "Make it look as small as you can." I had already pointed out that this £40,000 is for this financial year, about six weeks of which are still to run. The attitude of the Deputies is: "Do not say to the farmers that the Government are trying to do something for them with this £40,000. Do not say that, but say that it is a penny an acre, and what is the good of that to any farmer, and why should he buy artificial manures if that is all he is to get?" That is the sort of encouragement they are giving the farmers to avail of this scheme. Then we had Deputy Belton on the wheat scheme. In passing, I might say that the first time I met Deputy Belton was at a meeting held in the Rotunda called for the purpose of considering the question of wheat growing.
I want to correct the Minister. I deliberately refrained this evening from discussing the wheat scheme.
Did not the Deputies sitting beside you discuss it? You all ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
I grew more wheat in my time than the Minister ever did.
And the Deputy will not grow it now because he is sitting over there. Deputy Hughes says that you should not grow wheat on low-lying land or on elevated land. How high should the land be above sea level to be suitable for wheat growing? Deputy Hughes then went on to talk about poultry houses and said that the grant for them was miserable. He said that for fear there might be some poor man in the County Carlow who would like to take a grant for poultry houses and thereby make a few more shillings out of his eggs. But Deputy Hughes says it is all wrong. Fearing that anybody might avail of the grant he described it as a miserable one.
How much is it per house?
There is no grant at all.
What is the Minister talking about then?
Did the Deputy ever hear of a grant being miserable when in fact there is no grant at all? Deputy Hughes thought there was a grant, and although there is no grant he says it is a miserable one. According to him everything is miserable—the things that are in the Estimate, and the things that are not. As a matter of fact this is a loan and not a grant. It is a pity, I think, that Deputies do not read the Estimates and prepare themselves before they get up to speak here. Deputy Hughes told us that our exports of eggs have fallen in seven years from £3,000,000 to £750,000. But in the two years before we came in, when the Fine Gael Government was in office, the exports dropped in value from £4,000,000 to £3,000,000. The Deputies sitting opposite to me now were not on those benches then. They were on different sides of the House at that time. Well, at least we can claim that we slowed up the decline. The figures have gone up again. They are higher for 1938 than for 1937, but of course it would not suit Deputy Hughes to mention that. He had to get the worst figures he could, so he took 1937.
In typical Fianna Fáil fashion.
Well, I would not even say typical Fine Gael fashion. I think I should say in typical Hughes fashion, because I would not like to bring the Party opposite to such a level. The Deputy also said that loans are no good.
As the Minister is making prophecies now, would he tell the House how many houses are going to be built by the help of loans?
I am not a prophet. I would advise the Deputy, if he wants that sort of information, to buy and read "Old Moore's Almanac." Deputy Hughes tells me that the grants are miserable and that the loans are no good. What am I to do? Deputy Hughes has condemned this scheme because he says all the benefit is not going to the farmers. He says the benefit is going to Messrs. Goulding, but having said that he asks: "What about the poor merchants who bought artificials last year?" So that now, according to Deputy Hughes, who was so concerned about the farmers a short time ago, we are to do something for the poor merchants. The Party opposite attacked us because we happened to come to an agreement with Messrs. Goulding. They told us about all the sympathy they had for the farmers, but now they ask what about the poor merchants who bought artificials last year, and they want to know if they are at a loss.
Deputy Brennan put his arguments on a mathematical basis. He said a man using four tons or eight tons before, will only use 4½ and 8½ now, and that if he used anything less than four tons before he will not use any more now.
What about the poor merchants who carried over surplus stocks?
Any merchant who has bought Irish manufactured manures since the 1st September will get the subsidy and no other.
Even though he has carried over large surplus stocks from last year he will not get the subsidy?
No. Deputy Brennan argued that even if we were giving £2 a ton this subsidy was going to be of no benefit in increasing the use of artificials. Do Deputy Brennan and the Deputies opposite think that if manures are £4 and that if we give a subsidy of £2 a ton that farmers will spend nothing additional on the purchase of artificial manures beyond what the Government give by way of subsidy? We expect that when we give a subsidy out of State funds for a thing like this farmers will purchase more artificial manures, and spend more of their own money on them, in addition to what they get from the State. Deputy Brennan made a most remarkable statement. He said that we should take advantage of the British market while the money is there because, he said, it may not be always there. That was a remarkable statement, because I have always thought that it was an article of faith with the Fine Gael Party that the British Empire would last forever.
With our £4,000,000 spent, and our Army behind it, there is no danger to the British Empire now.
We will hear the Deputy on that to-morrow.
Yes, we can leave that till to-morrow.
Or rather to-day.
Sure, we might as well continue.
Deputy Brennan and some other Deputies on the opposite side used this futile argument: "You can spend £1,000,000 on defence." That type of argument can easily be used. Anybody could come in and say: "They have no money for anything else, but yet they can spend £1,000,000 on defence." It might be suggested that it would be much better if the £1,000,000 were spent in other ways.
I often heard the Minister say something like that when he was on this side of the House.
When the Deputy's Party was in power we convinced the people of the country that things were going badly.
And they are paying for it now.
And they are content to pay for it; they preferred us to you, anyhow, on four different occasions, having had four tries.
You had a good many tries yourself.
The conditions that existed in 1931, the good conditions, as we are told, have been referred to by various Deputies. If Deputies will go through the figures relating to the use of artificial manures, the imports and the outputs over the years, they will find that there was not a very big decline in the last seven years compared with the years before that. Several Deputies made attacks on Goulding's and they declared that we were putting money into Goulding's pocket. Deputy Brooke Brasier, because there is a factory of Goulding's in his constituency, adopts a different attitude. He wants everything possible done to foster the industry there. I often noticed that before in the case of the Fine Gael Party. A man will do anything there for votes. Because there may be a few people working in a factory in his constituency, Deputy Brasier would not say anything against Goulding's. He said that the native phosphates were better than the foreign phosphates; the foreign, he said, were rougher and not of such good texture and so on. He indicated that in every way Messrs. Goulding were turning out a better article, and the industry should be fostered.
There seems to be an idea on the opposite benches—it was mentioned by several speakers—that the number of live stock in this country has gone down. That is not true. Perhaps that type of thing suits their arguments.
The number of milch cows has gone down.
They are not down; they are much higher than in 1931. They were down in 1938 from 1937, but they are much higher than under the Fine Gael régime. The number of cattle has not gone down.
You are not to be thanked for that. You could not destroy the economy of this country, but you tried to.
Taking the average number of cattle, they are as high now as in the Fine Gael régime. Of course, Deputies opposite will say that we tried to destroy the cattle market. Let me say that the Government went to the greatest trouble to find an alternative market for cattle.
Did you succeed?
Deputies opposite always laugh when I say that.
Do you not laugh yourself, now?
Let me ask the Deputy, as an honest man, and I am sure he is an honest man——
I am as honest as the Minister.
Let me put it to the Deputy that he should ask a dozen of the traders would they like to lose the German market, and I will bet that they would not like to lose it.
How many times has the Minister been at the Dublin Cattle Market in the last 12 months?
I was at the Dublin Cattle Market in my time.
Are the cattle exports down?
Anyone with an article to sell naturally likes to see two people bidding for it.
Of course he does. Did this Government get much encouragement from the Party opposite when they tried to establish those markets?
You tried to get them as an alternative to the British markets, which was foolish, and you realise that now, à la the Minister for Finance when he meets the bankers.
You will meet men in the Dublin Cattle Market who, I daresay, will vote for the Deputies opposite and at the same time they will tell you, "For goodness sake, do not lose the German market."
They might want licences for fat cattle.
It is not a question of needing licences. The same applies to other people. I do not want to compete against Deputy Belton in religious doctrine, but I heard him talk about the Reds eating our bulls in Barcelona.
That is a bull they will never eat.
How can you get over the like of that? If the Deputy tries to knock me out on religious grounds I am not going to enter into the controversy, but I do not think he is right, all the same. Then, in order to make the thing look worse, we had Deputy Cogan saying something about 6d. a cwt. for phosphates. Bulls to Barcelona? There are three ingredients in an ordinary mixture of manure, phosphates, potash and nitrates, in whatever form it may be. We are giving an advantage to the compound manufacturer. I think the Deputy will agree in this. Suppose we say we will have 10/- a ton to give on phosphates. If we divide that we will have to give so much on phosphates, so much on potash and so much on nitrates.
Why divide it?
That is a different matter.
You are not giving 10/- a ton on a balanced mixture; you are giving one-third.
Wait now. If we give 10/- on the phosphates alone, the compound manure manufacturer gets only 5/- on the ton. If you make up your own mixture you will put in 50 per cent. of phosphates and perhaps more; even for grass lands you will very often put in Kainit and sulphate of ammonia, or sulphate of ammonia with the phosphates. You will be putting in more than 50 per cent. A man doing his own mixing has the advantage under this scheme.
Will the Minister not consider giving it on the three?
We did consider that, but we thought it better to take one single manure for a start.
Is it not good business to encourage farmers to mix their own manure?
Then would it not be better to give a subsidy on each of the three?
In my part of the country there is a fair amount of potash used, but the amount is a very small percentage of the total.
Do you not agree there should be more?
Yes, and it is not dear either.
It is now ten minutes to one, and do not be asking so many questions.
Who is keeping you here? Do not wait to get a feast of potash.
What is keeping me here? My interest in the farmers.
Sulphate of ammonia is one of the things the farmer can buy much cheaper than pre-war, so that is good value. On the whole, it is better doing it with one manure for a start.
Why encourage a compound mixture?
We do not. Surely it is quite plain to the Deputy. If he looks up his list of manures, or his bill for the whole year, he will find that of his total purchases phosphates will certainly be more than 50 per cent. If they are more than 50 per cent., the advantage to him will be greater than having the subsidy divided over the three. That is the advantage for the compound manufacturer.
It is only 5/- a bag for compounds and complete manure.
I do not think it is true, as alleged by Deputy Brodrick and Deputy Ryan, that this scheme gives an advantage to grass manures rather than to tillage manures. I suppose that on certain types of grass lands and in certain places, farmers do use phosphates alone, but I think that where a farmer goes to the trouble of doing the thing scientifically, as Deputy Belton says, he will use the three ingredients, practically as much on grass as he would on tillage crops. Therefore, there is no greater advantage to grass than to tillage. Deputy Brodrick also made the point that the yield of beet was lower in his area because of insufficient manure. I do not think that the Deputy could come to that conclusion on the results of last year's crop. I told the Deputy that it was the same in England. If there has been a big reduction in the yield in England in 1938, as compared with 1937, it shows that there is something universally wrong.
Had we not a wet season, while in England it was a dry season?
The season was bad and that probably applied to both countries. The weather in England was much the same as here—very dry in the early part of the year and very wet in the latter part. Of course, the yield of the beet crop was down in the case of all the factory areas here, and it was also down in the case of the English factories, but I do not think the lower yield could be attributed to insufficient manuring.
That is my information.
I would ask Deputies to be a little more cheerful and a little brighter in future. Things are not as bad as they try to make out.