Vote 46—Agriculture.

I move:

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £4,647,360 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on 31st March, 1961, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Agriculture, including certain Services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain Subsidies and sundry Grants-in-Aid.

The additional expenditure which has given rise to this Supplementary Estimate relates mainly to four items— assistance to the dairying industry; the scheme for eradication of bovine tuberculosis; the special arrangements made in regard to wheat of the 1960 crop; and assistance to the pig and bacon industries.

The Supplementary Estimate is largely a reflection of increases in agricultural production which have occurred during the past year, as well as of advances in the campaign to stamp out bovine tuberculosis. The increase in production is a very healthy sign, but it has, inevitably, involved certain additional expenditure by the State. In the case of dairy products (Subhead P.), exports of creamery butter produced in the 1960-61 season are estimated at 13,000 tons, valued at almost £3,500,000, representing a considerable increase on the previous year, and exports of other milk products are estimated at approximately £6,500,000.

Last year proved to be a very good year for milk production—in fact the best on record, with one exception. We had a lot of rain, but not, as in 1958, too much rain so far as milk is concerned. The price of creamery milk was increased by 1s. 3d. per gallon as from the 13th April, 1960, and this encouraged milk producers to keep in production. Furthermore, the efficiency of milk production has increased in recent years, and milk yields are tending upwards. The fertiliser subsidies also are helping farmers to get a better return from their grassland than in the past.

While the price of milk involves considerable State expenditure in present circumstances, it is not a very high price generally, judged by European standards. It is essential to give a reasonable degree of support to milk, as it is the key factor in our whole agricultural economy. Unfortunately, international butter prices have followed an erratic course during the past year, fluctuating from about 410s. per cwt. at the beginning of 1960 to 250s. recently. We have been doing everything possible to divert milk from butter into other milk products, and the outlook is now quite promising for increased production of milk powder and cheese in particular.

The payment on wheat (Subhead M. 15) relates to the special arrangements made for the benefit of wheat growers in 1960/61. The total mill intake of wheat from the 1960 crop, at 350,000 tons dried, came very near the figure on which the wheat levy had been based, and the proceeds of the levy would have been sufficient to finance the disposal of surplus wheat if all or most of the wheat crop had been of a high-grade millable quality. Unfortunately, because of the very unfavourable season, a considerable proportion of the crop was not suitable for inclusion in the flour grist at the normal level, and, in order to avoid the losses which farmers would have suffered if they had had to take the feed price for such wheat, the Government arranged that the millable wheat prices would be paid for all sound and sweet wheat. The net cost of this arrangement to the Exchequer is estimated at well over £1,000,000, of which £800,000 is being met in the current financial year.

The increased provision under Subhead M.14 is due mainly to the substantial rise in the production of pigs, and the corresponding rise in exports of pigmeat. Assistance is given to the industry, not only out of this Subhead but also out of the proceeds of the levy collected by the Pigs and Bacon Commission on all pigs slaughtered for conversion into bacon. The number of pigs in the country at the last June census was higher than at any time during the past ten years, and the deliveries of pigs to bacon factories during the second half of 1960 were also higher than in any previous year. Prices for bacon on the export market remain rather uncertain, and there are signs of increasing production in most of the important exporting countries.

I may mention that the new Special A grade for bacon, which we introduced last May, has been successful in establishing better quality standards, and this bacon commands higher prices in Britain. It is generally agreed that there has been an overall improvement in the quality of our bacon during the past year or two, and, if we can maintain and expand the present volume of exports, we should be able to provide the continity of supply which is so important if the best prices are to be secured in export markets.

Subhead M. 11 includes a provision for the special export arrangements introduced last July, whereby a market was provided for uncertificated fat cattle which, otherwise, might have had to be sold at very uncertain prices and might have been retained in this country for an unduly long period, thus increasing the risk of the spread of bovine tuberculosis. This scheme is not a scheme of subsidies on fat cattle; it is a T.B. scheme introduced to meet a serious problem, but a problem which will pass within a couple of years.

Another reason for the increase in expenditure on eradication of bovine T.B., compared with the original estimate, is that the amount of testing done by veterinary surgeons and the amount of payments on reactors and for the clear herd bonus in the south have been substantially greater than was anticipated. This, of course, means that the pace of our activities under the scheme was accelerated.

There is also an increase in the expenditure on the special water supply grants under the Bovine T.B. Eradication Scheme. This is a reflection of the increasing awareness of farmers of the need for a high standard of hygiene if the disease is to be kept permanently at bay.

In the period since last December, seven counties in the west and north-west—Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Clare, Galway, Leitrim and Roscommon, have been declared attested. The number of cattle in these seven counties is 1,250,000, or approximately one-quarter of the total number of cattle in the whole country. The attestation of these counties is a major step forward towards the goal of complete attestation of the entire country. I am very hopeful that Counties Cavan, Monaghan and Longford can be declared attested by the middle of this year.

We have recently declared a new clearance area, covering Counties Meath, Westmeath, Louth, Offaly and Kildare. A great deal has already been done in these counties and the disease position has improved considerably. How quickly they can be attested will, of course, depend mainly on the efforts of the farmers and veterinary surgeons concerned.

We are hopeful that we can begin clearance measures in the south in about a year's time. The problem in the south is more difficult than in other parts of the country, but it is encouraging to note that the incidence of the disease in the south, though still heavy among cows, is considerably better than it was five years ago, and that the incidence in store cattle in particular has shown a marked fall. Under the Special Southern Scheme, 120,000 cow reactors have been removed from the herds since the scheme was introduced on the 1st October, 1959, and over 5,500 herds have earned the Clear Herd Bonus. The compulsory pasteurisation of separated milk, which has now been in operation since April, 1959, has also proved of great benefit.

As regards the other subheads in this Supplementary Estimate, it will be observed that provision is made in Subhead M.8 for the subsidy on potash fertiliser which was announced last April and came into effect on the 1st September last. The phosphate subsidy is, of course, being maintained at the same time. As a result of the subsidies, potash and phosphates are now available to the farmers at particularly attractive prices, and nitrogen fertiliser also is relatively cheap. This is, therefore, a specially suitable time in which to increase the use of fertilisers, particularly on grassland which is the country's most valuable natural resource and which could be raised to a much higher level of fertility by judicious use of fertilisers and good management.

In Subhead E.3, provision is made for a contribution to the Freedom from Hunger Campaign of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. When introducing my Estimate for 1960/61. I mentioned this campaign and that the Government had made a payment of 10,000 dollars to the FAO in support of the campaign. The formal authority of the Dáil is now being sought for this payment. The campaign is not of a relief nature—that is to say, it is not concerned with sending supplies of foodstuffs to needy peoples; its fundamental purpose is to improve the standard of agricultural practices in the underdeveloped areas, for example by sending first-class experts to these areas to help the various Governments concerned to teach their farmers better methods of cultivation generally; in other words, the object of the campaign is to enable the underdeveloped countries to help themselves. It is a very sound and well-conceived scheme which has aroused world-wide interest, and I am sure that the Dáil will agree that it is well worthy of our support.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present.

I thought it proper to summon the Fianna Fáil Party so that they might hear, fresh from the Minister's lips, an interesting announcement. He has just introduced a Supplementary Estimate, in case the Deputies do not know what is going on, for the Department of Agriculture. He reached his climax in recommending it to the Dáil with these words:

This is, therefore, a specially suitable time in which to introduce the use of fertilisers, particularly——

prepare yourselves for a shock; I hope you are well fed and stimulated——

—particularly on grassland which is the country's most valuable natural resource and which could be raised to a much higher level of fertility by judicious use of fertilisers and good management.

Do I detect Deputy Killilea growing pale?

Anybody would grow pale listening to the Deputy.

I am not asking you to listen to me; I am asking you to listen to your own Minister for Agriculture. I am thinking of the years Deputy Killilea spent in this House thundering from those benches about the iniquity of those who would turn Ireland into a ranch and who would elevate grassland to a subject of importance. I am glad to see Deputy Gilbride recovered from influenza and the fact that he says "hear, hear" reassures me that he is restored to health. He has been saying it for 30 years but the Deputy has got out of touch. The modern phrase is to say that "grassland is the country's most valuable natural resource". Deputy Gilbride will want to be careful because if he goes off the line again in the next general election, they will not adopt him. He might be turned out to grass and he would not like that. But orthodoxy is very necessary in order to retain the patronage of the Fianna Fáil Party and the modern orthodoxy is—note it well; I would be very anxious about Deputy Gilbride—"grassland is the country's most valuable natural resource".

When Deputy Gilbride goes back to North Sligo, he must lose no time reversing engines and beginning to preach a new doctrine. It is the wind of change, only this time it is not blowing through Africa. It is blowing through Fianna Fáil, and nobody knows better than the Deputy the source of the wind of change. Carlow-Kilkenny started it but Sligo put the hat on it.

He would not be seen dead in a field of beet or wheat.

I have a word to say about the wheat crop and a word about it from your own Minister for Agriculture:

The payment on wheat (subhead M.15) relates to the special arrangements made for the benefit of wheat growers in 1960-61. The total mill intake of wheat from the 1960 crop, at 350,000 tons dried, came very near the figure on which the wheat levy had been based, and the proceeds of the levy would have been sufficient to finance the disposal of surplus wheat if all or most of the wheat crop had been of a high grade millable quality. Unfortunately, because of the very unfavourable season a considerable proportion of the crop was not suitable for inclusion in the flour grist at the normal level, and, in order to avoid the losses which farmers would have suffered if they had had to take the feed price for such wheat, the Government arranged that the millable wheat price would be paid for all sound and sweet wheat. The nett cost of this arrangement to the Exchequer is estimated at well over £1,000,000, of which £100,000 is being met in the current financial year.

Perhaps Deputy Killilea would like to intervene at a later stage of this debate and give his estimate of the economics of that operation? I hope the Minister will answer my query when he comes to reply as to what became of the wheat on which we lost £1,000,000. Has the bulk of it been fed to British livestock or what?

We are feeding a bit of it ourselves.

A bit of it—that is quite true.

We are not able to feed it all.

God forbid. I would not wish to think the Deputy had been constrained to consume any of the wheat referred to by the Minister because he says that that was not suitable for incorporation in the grist. All I am asking him is to tell us, when he spent £1,000,000 of our money, and in my opinion, rightly spent it, what became of the wheat. I think the Minister did the right thing last year when the millers started kicking up their heels in the autumn to take them by the lug, bring them in and say: "Take in the wheat." I did it myself. It did not cost me £1,000,000. They took it in and liked it. Now, under this dispensation, we paid them £1,000,000 to do it. I should like to know what became of the wheat. I have a pretty shrewd idea why we paid them the £1,000,000. Perhaps, for the information of Deputies, I should tell them that in the recent by-election we got no subscription from the National Association of Irish Flourmillers.

A Deputy

It was not for want of trying.

Subscriptions, as the Deputy knows, in politics are very acceptable, from whatever source they come, provided it is respectable, but there are certain depths to which this Party is not prepared to sink in order to solicit them.

There are certain organisations who have forgotten your existence, not to mind subscribing to the Party.

£1,000,000 is a very substantial sum of money to compensate the millers for their herculean exertions in taking in the wheat and it was right to make them take in the wheat. Whether it was necessary to spend £1,000,000 of public money in order to secure the ultimate disposal of this wheat is another day's work, the discussion of which in detail we may postpone until the main Estimate. I thought it would be good for the Fianna Fáil Deputies to ring the bell and bring them in. They are all twittering like birds on a branch.

The Deputy is very amusing.

It is very educational. I have not seen the Deputy take as much interest in the proceedings of the House for the past 12 years.

Major de Valera

A good actor is always entertaining.

The debates on agriculture, I always expect and always find, entertain the Deputies. I feel responsible for their education. That is why I got the bells rung to bring them in.

To turn to certain other details of this Estimate which I would not expect Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party to understand so well—I am glad to see the Minister's reference to the diversion of milk into other export products and I would be obliged to him if he could give us any information on the prospective development of Bordens enterprise in the Limerick area for the manufacture and export of dried milk. I think that is a good development. It is a most desirable thing to establish contact with an organisation like Bordens which has a great international marketing organisation into which our output could be poured and effectively marketed. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that in one of the many markets to which Bordens have abundant access our total milk potential could probably be easily absorbed.

There are two things I should like to know—one a matter of detail, one a matter of wider concern. First, what is going to happen to the Tipperary plant which is operated by the Dairy Disposal Board? I admit that I have a certain sentimental affection for it because I think it was the first spray process dried milk plant established in this country and was established by the Dairy Disposal organisation at my instance when existing dried milk processors preferred to adhere to the roller process. I would be sorry to see the Tipperary project abandoned. I would hope that a place would be found in the general scheme of things to expand and develop it.

The second thing I should like to ask the Minister is: can he give us any indication of the likely price that will be available for liquid milk from the new Bordens enterprise which I understand will be mainly concerned with the production of spray process dried milk for export? I assume they will be using whole milk, with no return of skim to the farmers, so that their purchase price can be most appropriately compared with that available from the chocolate crumb factory.

They will not buy milk direct.

Bordens?

I do not know.

But they will buy it from the creamery?

No; they buy powder, I gather.

Bordens? They manufacture powder.

No; they buy powder from manufacturers.

Bordens of Chicago?

That is right.

Are they not going to dry milk themselves at all?

Where are they going to get the powder?

Dungarvan, Mitchelstown, Tipperary, Mallow—I think there are five.

They are going to be only marketers?

Processors.

Processors and marketers.

Of dried milk?

Yes, but it has to be made according to their standards, of course.

Will it be a spray process?

Because, as I remember it, the roller process was suitable only for malt foods, and so on, and was not suitable for conversion. I do not want to minimise the thing. It is a disappointment to me to learn that they are not going to buy milk.

It does not really make any difference.

I am prepared to accept that. I welcome the arrival of Bordens and the integration of their marketing system into our production.

It is more widely distributed on this basis.

I think there is a good deal to be said even for that. I am delighted that Bordens are coming. I think it is a good development. My solicitude is that there should be no artificial restriction on their capacity to process and export milk but, even if they are not going to buy milk, they are going to buy powder. What I want to know is, will the price Bordens are going to pay, when you follow it back to the supplier, allow the creameries dealing with Bordens to pay the supplier a sum equal at least to the price at present available for chocolate crumb or can we hope that it might be a better price?

I am prepared to concede at once that, so long as the price is as good as or better than the price available for milk for conversion into butter, always remembering that the milk-for-butter price has to be looked on in the light of the farmer getting back his skim, then the arrival of Bordens is welcome.

I shall be disappointed if Bordens' marketing machinery does not enable the milk supplier to get a price as good as is available to him for chocolate crumb and if he can get any margin over that, then I believe the arrival of Bordens is an unqualified blessing for it provides a better price and a better market and these are the things of which we are most urgently in need in regard to the dairying industry.

I probably would be better advised from the political angle to make disparaging observations but the plain fact is when we are dealing with matters relating to agriculture, I cannot forbear from taking a very great deal of interest in the matter, which is perhaps not suitable in a member of the Opposition. There is only one anxiety present to my mind in regard to the Borden development—I have such high hopes of its potentialities— and that is, that we might fail on the subject of supply. I am somewhat reassured by the knowledge that the supply will be drawn from a very wide area but, even so, it would be doubly tragic if we had to limit people or starve them of chocolate crumb or cheese in order to fulfil our undertaking to Bordens. It is a matter of outstanding urgency that we should take up at once the advisory services as a matter of first priority.

There is not a country in the world which cannot face that necessity. I believe that there are very few parts of this country in which the output of the land could not be very nearly doubled by prudent husbandry. We have the Minister's assessment of the advantage from the increased use of fertiliser and the increased efficiency of the milk producing industry but we are only at the very threshold of its potentiality. Heretofore it was hard to engender enthusiasm for expanding production while the nightmare hung over the heads of the farmers that expanding production meant lower prices. If we have effectively escaped from that nighmare our great danger would be that in the production of cheese, butter, chocolate crumb and dried milk there might be a hiatus. To my mind there could be no greater disaster than that an undertaking like Bordens should meet the same fate as the fish meal factory in Killybegs. Bordens is an act of faith in our capacity to supply. The fish meal factory at Killybegs was also an act of faith but we could not control, and nobody else could control, the departure and arrival of the herring shoals. That is a mystery that nobody can control but we can control very greatly the supply of milk.

The only way we can do that is to place adequate resources at the disposal of the farmers so that they may get the maximum yield from the land. There is no way of doing that except by giving them the assurance that increased output will not mean a reduction in price and also in making available to them effectively the knowhow to get from their grass land the return of which those lands are capable if worked to the maximum capacity.

I shall return to that part of the matter before I conclude but, in the meantime, I want to ask this question of the Minister for Agriculture. Of the 350,000 tons of dried wheat, which represent the total mill intake of the 1960 crop, what tonnage has been rejected by the millers as being unsuitable for incorporating into wheat? What is the proportion for which they are claiming £1 million to compensate them for their loss in marketing what they describe as unmillable? I find that very hard to take. I can remember the harvest of 1954 which, I believe, was worse than last year's harvest, and I remember that I succeeded in getting the millers to take every single barrel of wheat and I gradually cleared that wheat into the grist.

It took 18 months to finish it and I do not believe that they disposed of a single barrel. That may be an exaggeration. I think we did convert some into white pollard but the vast bulk of it was converted into flour. It took a great deal of trouble and time and it involved the milling industry in very difficult problems. I remember saying at the time that I was very appreciative of the trouble they took to handle the wheat crop of that year. That was true. They did a splendid job and a very difficult job and they showed that they had the ability to do it.

I should like to know what proportion of these 350,000 tons has been declared unfit for incorporating into the flour grist and what we are doing with it. Where has it gone? I cannot divorce from my mind the fact that we are importing pollard and some bran from countries all over the world, including Russia. I should like to be reassured that it is costing us less to bring pollard from Russia than to reduce this unmillable wheat into pollard and to sell it to our own farmers at this subsidised price which requires an Exchequer subsidy of £1 million.

Surely we could have extracted up to 20 per cent. of flour out of this rejected wheat? I do not believe that if we had got 20 per cent. out of the usual 70 or 80 per cent., and sold the residue as white pollard to our own farmers, we would have suffered any great loss. I find it hard to believe that pollard of such an extraction would not have represented better value for our farmers than any pollard we may bring from Iraq, Russia or Great Britain.

I am delighted to note an increase in the output of pigs. It is long overdue and I hope it will continue but I am continually haunted by an aspect of this situation which has always militated against the continued expansion of pig production. I came to the conclusion that we would never get a satisfactory expansion of pig output if we did not remove from the pig industry the horror of boom and slump which has characterised it for the last 50 years. The old cycle was that everyone went into pig production and pig production went up. Then the price collapsed. Then everybody went out of pigs and the price went up again. If you get a graph of our pig production going back to 1920, you will find that pattern repeated again and again with the regularity of a clock. Then we introduced a system of guaranteed prices for pigs which, I think it right to recall, was related to the guaranteed price for barley.

I was determined to stand on a guaranteed price for grade A pigs. Since that, the Minister has introduced a new grade A, grade A.1, but I think rightly we refused to guarantee a price for lower grade pigs than grade A because if we are to get really expanding production, we must get expanding exports and the plain fact is there is virtually no scope for the export of bacon produced from a lower grade of pig than grade A or grade A.1.

I am not certain there is not still a market in the midlands of England which would absorb a stouter pig but I cannot pretend authoritatively that there is. I used to look for it. I did not succeed in getting it because the price structure in Great Britain at that time made it impossible, but I still believe the matter might be pursued, particularly with the bacon curing interests in Great Britain, who from time to time suffer from a serious shortage of pigs both for conversion into bacon and into other products which are very much more widely used in Great Britain than they are here and which can be best manufactured from a stouter pig than is normally used for bacon production.

All that was designed to restore confidence to the pig producer. That was the key to expanding production: a reasonable margin of profit and a reasonable guarantee that expanded production would not burst the market with a consequential slump. I think we carried conviction to the pig-producing element of the population and that we did achieve that purpose. Now I am afraid there is creeping in—and it is well this House should take cognisance of it—a growing distrust on the part of the small producer in regard to the grading of his pigs.

I deliberately say "on the part of the small producer". The man who is sending 100 pigs a week to a factory and who knows that factory partially depends on the maintenance of those supplies for its economic operation, feels that he has sufficient control over the factory to demand that, taking one week with another, he will get 70 per cent. grade A or over. If it turns out that he does not, he will go to the manufacturer and say: "If that is the way my pigs are being treated, I will take them elsewhere where there will be more respect for them", and as a general rule, he will find that the bacon manufacturer will be prepared to meet him. It is the man who brings two, four or six pigs to the factory and gets maybe one grade A, two grade B and one grade X——

And feeds them differently, too.

The Minister may be right in that. If the Minister showed a little patience, I do not think he would have made that interjection. I am not prepared to say the Minister is wrong.

It is a bad thing to say it.

If I thought it was true, I would say it.

So would I.

I am not saying it and if the Minister would have a little patience, he would find I do not intend to say it. I do not think the law is badly administered in this country but that does not deter me from saying to the Minister for Justice or the Chief Justice himself, if it were necessary, that it is not enough to administer the law justly; the law must be shown to be administered justly. It is not enough to grade pigs correctly; you must convince the small producer that they are being graded correctly.

The 100 pigs a week man does not require that assurance because he feels he has a screw in his own hand which he can twist in order to get satisfaction by threatening to withdraw his supply of pigs. It is the small man with anything from two to six pigs who gets unsatisfactory grading who feels aggrieved. There may be revolutionary persons who say: "Let the small man go". I do not believe in that. I believe that the whole idea that we ought to undo the land settlement and adopt the methods of Lord Lucan, the great exterminator, and wipe out all the small farmers in Ireland is all cod and if persisted in will plunge this country into irrevocable disaster. We will become a dirty little proletarian imitation of a down-trodden and down-at-heel industrial back yard.

The only hope for this country of a prosperous agricultural industry is a large property-owning farming population on the land as the foundation on which to build a decent and expanding industry in our towns and cities. The cornerstone, as well as its foundation, is the property-owning farmer and the property-owning farmer is the man who is going to produce six or eight pigs at a time. I want to ensure he will continue to produce them and that he will feel that he is fairly treated when he brings them to market. So long as he has a right to sell them in the fair where he can see the competition operating, where he can see a pig jobber standing back because there is somebody in on his pigs and that he would drive away the man who is in on his pigs, if necessary hitting him on the head with his stick, so as to let the other man in, he is reassured.

Deputy Moher would say: "They used to form a ring." If they wanted pigs, the ring did not last very long and if there was a surplus, the man was just out of luck. Competition operated there and the small man knew that if he could not get a fair price from A, B and C were in the fair, too, only waiting to get in to bid for his pigs. If he now has to bring them into a factory and they are slaughtered and he gets a piece of paper: "2 grade A, 1 grade B, 1 grade C", he has a big sense of grievance and he has that sense of grievance because although he is entitled to go into the factory and see his pigs graded, he knows he is not able to do it because he does not know how, and what is the use of asking? I was Minister for Agriculture for six years and if I went into a bacon factory in the morning to get my pigs graded, I would not know, either.

I do know of one specific case in which a small man's pigs were corruptly and falsely graded. I want to tell the House how that came about because it is a thing phenomenally difficult to prove. I know of a case where a man brought up a cart with two pigs in it to the factory and left the cart of pigs with a neighbour. The neighbour was in the factory, to see his own pigs graded and to see his neighbour's pigs graded, at the same time. He saw the man who was grading the pigs under the supervision of the Department's vet grade two pigs as grade A. He saw the docket being filled out: 1 grade A and 1 grade B and he asked: "Why are you grading that grade B?" The man who was in charge of the factory said: "What has that to do with you? Those are so-and-so's pigs. Mind your own pigs and you will have plenty to do." Then this fellow said: "I am minding those pigs; they were left to me to mind." That is the only case that I have ever come across in which the factory changed the docket back. That may be as rare an occurrence as a white blackbird——

It might be accidental.

It was not. I admit it may be rare but people do not believe it is. I think we should try to devise some scheme, and I do not understand the difficulty in getting some scheme, whereby there would be independent control of the grading of pigs at factories. I am not unaware of the practical difficulties of getting that effectively done but it ought to be possible to work out some plan to do it. It may be that when it is in operation it will be found that very little change results therefrom in the actual grading but there will be this fundamental change, that the small farmers will not only get justice but they will know they are getting justice and that is of the very essence of the confidence they must have if we are to get the measure of expansion in pig production that we should aim at.

I invite the House to look with special attention at subhead M. 11, Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Scheme. That calls for expenditure in the financial year now ending of £6,642,000. I think the Minister should give us a break-down of that figure. I have been trying to make up what it is for——

Purchase of reactors.

There is a receipt, I think, for the 12 months estimated at about £1,250,000.

More than that.

I have not got the main Estimate. Is it £1,750,000 from proceeds of sale of cattle to the factories?

Yes, the cost will be much larger than that.

£1,750,000. That reduces the net estimate to something in the order of £5,000,000, more or less. I reckon that the average loss sustained by the Department on the purchase and sale of cattle will be very roughly £15 per head.

Much more.

How much, roughly?

£24 or £25 per head, roughly.

That is astonishing. Suppose we say £25; that is four cattle to the £100. How many cattle do we put into the factory per annum, roughly? Would it be 100,000, 200,000 or 300,000? I do not want to pin the Minister to a figure which could be quoted against him afterwards. I am dealing in the roundest of round figures.

I shall try to give the Deputy the figures later on.

Yes. Would it be in the order of 100,000 or 200,000?

I just cannot get the numbers here. I shall give the figures later.

Suppose it is 100,000 a year at £25 per head. Would not that be £2½ million? There is a very substantial charge naturally for veterinary fees in connection with testing of cattle and so on. That is a heavy charge but the break-down of the figures——

May I give the Deputy the figures now? It is not so easy when you have a mass of figures to extract those you want immediately. The compensation figure required a provision of £3,096,000 and the probable total expenditure for 1960-61 is £3,398,500, as compensation for reactors.

And the balance?

The headage grant for the southern scheme amounts to £1,193,000.

Is that in addition to compensation?

Yes, and the herd bonus southern scheme amounts to £167,000. From that, appropriations-in-aid may be deducted.

That is the gross figure?

Has the Minister the figure for what testing costs, veterinary surgeons' fees and so on?

The total cost in fees to veterinary surgeons was £1,095,000.

I want to make it quite clear that I know the difficulty of unravelling a mass of figures at a moment's notice but I should be grateful to the Minister if he would break-down as comprehensively as he conveniently can the items in M. 14.

That break-down takes in those four figures.

If you take off the £1¾ million for salvage, the figures the Minister has given to me amount to £5,300,000.

There are other items also. There is a guarantee payment scheme for carcase beef and fat cattle that amounts to £241,000 and then there is a small charge for tuberculin supplies and tags and so on, of £67,000. There is also the water supply scheme which amounts to £113,000.

That is an important item that I think many people would entirely forget as being appropriate to this subhead. In that way, there may be other elements in this subhead that people forget about.

The Deputy has the main items.

One cannot help feeling that the expenditure of over £1,000,000 for testing is a formidable sum. I shall not be unreasonable with the Minister. I know he has his difficulties and I know the urgency of getting this matter expeditiously deal with. Knowing the high standards that must be maintained in regard to the administration of this scheme, perhaps it would be convenient for him, for the purposes of the record, to incorporate in his concluding observations the precise breakdown of the items which, taken together, constitute M.11., with a statement of the salvage realisation, so that for future reference, these figures will be available to Deputies concerned about them.

I spoke of the high standard it was necessary to maintain in regard to this matter. The Minister mentioned naturally, the special southern scheme, the removal of cow reactors. The Minister may remember that, prior to the Christmas recess, he was asked about certain developments in the Limerick area, and he stated that the facts relating to the matter had been referred to the Attorney General and, in those circumstances, he did not propose to deal further with them. Has anything happened since?

A case is before the courts now so far as I know.

The matter is sub judice?

Yes, it is before the courts.

As there are prosecution proceedings, and we may regard the matter as sub judice, I have nothing further to say on that matter.

What are the savings referred to in the Supplementary Estimate in connection with M.8—Lime and Fertilisers Subsidies? The sum now required is £200,000, and the saving on other parts of the subhead is £115,000. Are we to assume that the saving is due to less use being made of phosphatic fertilisers, or is it a result of a reduction in the use of lime, or a reduction in the subsidy payable to Irish superphosphate manufacturers? I am looking forward, with eager anticipation, to the day when the Irish superphosphate manufacturers announce to the Minister that they have new factories, fully equipped, and that they no longer require a subsidy to complete with continental producers.

I noted, with dismay, that when the Taoiseach was announcing the subsidies made available to agriculture and industry, in reply to a Parliamentary Question, he included the subsidy paid to the Irish fertiliser manufacturers as a subsidy to agriculture. It never was that; it was a subsidy paid to enable them to meet competition from fertilisers imported from continental sources. Our plants were relatively antediluvian but they now have a completely re-equipped industry—at least in Cork, Wicklow, and, I think, in Foynes. I eagerly await their announcement that that kind of subsidy is no longer necessary.

I said that before I concluded I would return to the matter of the national advisory service. Is it not fantastic to hear the Minister say in his last paragraph that we are engaged in a Freedom from Hunger Campaign of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations which is not a campaign to send food to the hungry, but a scheme "to improve the standard of agricultural practice in the underdeveloped areas, for example by sending first-class experts to these areas to help the various Governments concerned to teach their farmers better methods of cultivation generally"? And that is at a time when, if you travelled this country, you would find that certainly 85 per cent. of the land under grass could be made produce twice what it is at present producing, by better methods of husbandry.

The vast bulk of that underproductive grassland is due to two causes: (1) emigration, in some cases of the family who own the land, and the setting of the land in conacre to neighbours now that the family have gone; and (2) the fact that the small farmer working at his best just has not yet learned what the rest of us only learned in the past 20 years—how effective is the use of phosphatic lime and nitrogen on grassland.

Many farmers knew a great deal about the effective use of fertilisers on tillage land. Some knew by experience, and some picked it up by reading and study, but the practice in regard to tillage bore little or no resemblance to the practice of the same man, never mind his smaller neighbours, in the husbandry of grass.

There is work tomorrow for 300 additional agricultural advisers in this country to help our farmers to expand their productive economy off their own land. I am as certain as I am that I am standing in this House that, in respect of 85 per cent. of the small farmers, if we placed at their disposal adequate advice of the kind they trusted and were prepared to accept, we could increase the income of every farmer under 50 acres by anything from 50 to 100 per cent.

I say, advisedly, "advice of a character which they would accept and trust." That is quite a considerable qualification because, in advising, knowledge and skill are not the only requisites. The adviser must also have the capacity to impart it and the personality to persuade the farmer to accept it. Instead of facing that urgent problem, we are appropriating 10,000 dollars to send experts abroad "to help the various Governments concerned to teach their farmers better methods of cultivation generally."

In other words, the object of the campaign is to enable underdeveloped countries to help themselves. That is very admirable, but anyone who has seen as many rushes growing on the grasslands of Ireland as I have seen in my day, must marvel that we are equipping ourselves to send our best agricultural brains——

We are not sending anyone; we are sending money to an international organisation.

We are sending money to enable them to employ technicians. I have signed references for agricultural graduates of Glasnevin College to take employment in Rhodesia and I was proud to see them fit to do so. I would not complain that our graduates were going in to help in Africa, Asia or anywhere else——

Why would you?

Why would I—provided we were looking after our own. What astonishes me is that we have 10,000 dollars to help other Governments to do for their farmers what we do not think it necessary to do for our own. Surely that is daft. To tell the truth, I am afraid to mention it here because, as sure as there is an eye in a goat, before the general election, Fianna Fáil will perform another somersault: one of the first planks in their election platform will be to provide an adequate national agricultural advisory service. I do not know whether my political id or my agricultural ego should prevail in this matter. To get it done is what matters to me. I cannot conceal that it would give me infinite satisfaction to have the opportunity of doing it myself. However, if the Minister sees the light between now and next September, he is welcome. If he does not, please God, when they throw him out, I will get the chance.

What a hope.

It would be well if this £10,000 were devoted to supplying limestone for farmers. The farmers of Westmeath cannot get ground limestone as the quarry at Lanesboro has gone out of production. No limestone can be supplied within a radius of 30 miles of Moate. The nearest limestone quarry is at Ballinasloe. All they can send to the Moate district are 20 tons a day. This is urgent as the time is short.

What about the Mountnugent quarries? They are not so far from Westmeath.

They are not able to supply it. Furthermore, there are difficulties in getting lorries. There was delay in getting a lorry. When, eventually, one was got, it fell asunder with the first load. Then there was no lorry for another week. The Meath lime quarry can supply so many tons a day more than they are able to get out. They will not be allowed to exceed the 30-mile radius. The railway company have a monopoly. The Meath limestone quarry could use 20 or 30 lorries a day at present. All the railway company can supply are four lorries. Heretofore, private lorries were available. Unless the Minister withdraws the operation of the Order for a month or so and extends the subsidy, then all that area will have no lime for tillage.

The lorry problem should be taken up immediately with the railway company. A lime contractor rang up the company and complained about not getting lorries. He was told: "We have lorries on the shelf." They should. They knew the rush was coming. All these lorries are in the south with the Sugar Company. They get the first chance. We seem to get no service whatsoever in the midlands. It is the duty of the Minister to ensure that the people in the Moate district will get lime immediately for their tillage.

My experience is similar to that of Deputy Fagan. Why have many ground limestone quarries gone out of production in the past year or year and a half? This matter is serious. The small farmers in the west are no longer able to purchase the lime they require, particularly since the subsidy was reduced by 5/-a ton. Under Subhead M 14, the Minister is seeking £300,000 for the Pigs and Bacon Commission. Why is that sum required?

The Minister said it is essential to give reasonable support to milk production as it is the key factor in our agricultural economy. We used not have creameries in County Mayo; we never went into milk production there. Recently, a group of farmers from the Castlebar district decided to establish a separating station there and applied to An Foras Tionscal for a grant. More than 2,000 farmers were prepared to put up over £20,000 for that purpose because of a serious deterioration in their way of living. The costs of essential commodities were going up while their income was going down. A similar set of circumstances occurred 12 months ago at Claremorris where a grant of £3,500 was made, out of a total of £10,000, towards the erection of such a station. Why were the Castlebar farmers refused, point blank? They were given no reason. We must assume that despite the Minister's pious aspirations the Government on his advice precluded An Foras Tionscal from giving a grant. Is that true? Did they prevent An Foras Tionscal from giving a grant to farmers who were faced with the alternative of emigration or embarking upon a branch of agriculture in which they thought they saw some future? But the very moment they try to do that, they are turned down for the grant. I would ask the Minister, when replying, to explain why they were refused the grant.

I see the Minister is asking for a certain sum for the export of uncertified fat cattle which otherwise might have had to be sold at very uncertain prices and whose retention in this country for an unduly long period might have increased the risk of tuberculosis. If we are to save the remnants of our small farmers, there must be some form of subsidy or equalisation of prices for the three principal items on which they depend —cattle, sheep and pigs. The subsidy we are discussing was not introduced until it became an absolute necessity because of the Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Scheme. There is no other means of saving the small farmer. The pure gamble that his living has become is the reason the small farmer is being forced off the land. It is rather serious that there has been such a fall in the production of ground limestone, and I should like the Minister to deal fully with that matter when replying.

This is quite a big Supplementary Estimate coming at a very late stage in the financial year. Anyone looking at it can get some indication of the policy of Government in relation to agriculture. We have on the back here a sum of £3,565 towards the United Nations Organisation for the relief of hunger. On the same page we have a subsidy of £2,100,000 for butter. It seems to me there is something abnormal about this Government's agricultural policy. The farmers are told to produce as much as they can. In the Minister's speech today they were told to use more fertilisers and secure greater production. With all this money being expended on the subsidisation of butter and with all the money we are paying to the millers, there was not one word about better and increased marketing of our agricultural produce.

What is wrong with the policy of this Government? Is it a normal policy to pay £2,000,000 to subsidise a product you are going to sell and then to budget for £3,000 to assist in some way to relieve half the world starving of hunger? We have got a rich agricultural industry here, which, the Minister and the Leader of the Opposition agree, can be considerably expanded and increased. Is it a sensible policy to produce a Supplementary Estimate such as this? If the Minister and his advisers study the world position they must know, if they place any credence in the international organisations to which we belong, as other countries do, that there are certain shortages in the world today and that those shortages ought to be concentrated on.

There is a growing shortage of meat and it is likely to continue in the foreseeable future. Admittedly, meat is an expensive product and it is only possible for the richer nations to buy it. But there is also a shortage of protein products, particularly of the derivatives of milk, not only in the countries of Europe but in the vast areas of the world where the people are undernourished and, in some cases, have not sufficient to keep them alive. There is nothing in this Supplementary Estimate to suggest there is any idea at the back of the Minister's mind to encourage the farmers to produce the things they will be able to sell.

Is it good agricultural policy to come into the House looking for over £2,000,000 to subsidise a product? Admittedly, that product has to be sold. But the people who are encouraged to produce that product are entitled, when no market is available, to have the benefit of the assistance of the Government. I want to direct the attention of the House to the fact that the policy of the Government is wrong. It is not the first time this has occurred. We have been subsidising butter for the past three or four years. We have been subsidising wheat as well. It may be that it is necessary to do these things. It may be that it is necessary to grow a certain amount of wheat in this country. I shudder when I think of the thousands of pounds the Fianna Fáil Government have spent encouraging people to grow wheat. Yet. they are the very Government who are now trying to restrict and control the growing of wheat. When they are up against a difficult situation, as Deputy Dillon proved very conclusively this evening, the only resort they have is to come back to the House and look for a subsidy of £1,000,000 to get them out of their difficulties.

That is the plain fact of the case. The millers said the wheat was unmillable, and the Government accepted that, hook, line and sinker. They bought the wheat from the farmers because they were under pressure from rural Deputies to do so. Even a Dublin-minded Government had to accept that and buy that wheat. But they allowed themselves to be entirely dictated to by a combine, a vested interest, in this country that has complete control over the whole system. Very correctly, Deputy Dillon asked what has happened to all the wheat taken in this country. What wheat are we using now? Are we using for bread in Ireland wheat grown by the Irish people, or are we using imported wheat? The Minister is silent on that point. How much wheat was used in the grist? When the millers could not use a ton of wheat did they get a permit to import from outside wheat at a cheaper price than that paid here? What did they do with the profit they got? Did they plough that profit back into the fund again? Those are the things we want to know from the Minister.

In his short statement the Minister referred to the fact that we have 350,000 tons of wheat. In spite of the levy which this Government imposed on the farmers—4/6d. a barrel—they have not enough money to see them through. The argument is that he stood by the farmers; that he bought their wheat. It is quite obvious that he bought the wheat at the expense of the taxpayers. The people who made the money in the final analysis were not the people who grew the wheat. Every Fianna Fáil Deputy sitting on the back benches knows it is true that the people who make money out of wheat are the millers. The millers dictated to this Government exactly what they wanted them to do. They did exactly what they wanted to do without any severe control by the Government at all. That is where the Minister failed.

With regard to the eradication of bovine tuberculosis, I asked the Minister on several occasions in this House whether he could explain how there was no difference in price between attested and unattested cattle. I always got the same answer. We always get statistics from the Department of Agriculture showing that there is a considerable variation in the price, that the attested beast is going to make £8 a cwt. and that the unattested beast will be unsaleable. With all the money we spend on the eradication of bovine tuberculosis, the difference in County Wexford in three different lots over the past month was 2/6d. There was a difference of 2/6d. in the price between attested and unattested cattle.

We have no attested cattle there.

Cattle were sold in the marts in Wexford that are free of T.B.

You could not have attested and unattested sales at the same time.

There were no attested sales in Wexford that I know of.

We had sales in marts there of cattle that are T.B. free.

A man like the Deputy should not make a statement such as that because he is a doctor and ought to know better.

Will the Minister allow me to finish the statement? The Minister seems to be getting a little bit cross. My argument is that the price of T.B. free cattle and the price of cattle that are not tested——

That is not an argument. It is complete nonsense.

Will the Minister permit me to finish when he will see whether I am correct or not? I am only telling the House what I see in the County Wexford. Cattle are brought into the market and sold. They are cattle which are free of T.B. Those cattle are sold separate from and prior to the sale of other cattle. They made 2/6d. a cwt. more than those which had not been attested.

They have no status at all in a mixed sale.

The Minister is just getting cross. I agree that the Minister helped every other county but Wexford. We in Wexford have the same right to test our cattle as any other county.

Can I change the geography of the country?

Not after an election.

We have attested farms in Wexford and if the Minister visits the county, I shall show them to him. The Minister has just said that we have no attested cattle.

You might have one or two for all I know.

As the Minister is getting cross again, I shall not pursue the subject beyond saying that in spite of what the Minister states and in spite of the statistics, cattle that are attested in Wexford are making 2/6d. more. Does the Minister think that he will reap the reward for the money he is laying out? Does he think he has got the store cattle market he had two or three years ago? If he clears the whole country—providing he remains Minister for Agriculture, which I doubt—does he think he will be able to market at a profit? If the Minister can assure me, the Irish farmers and the House on that point, the money is well spent. There is a growing demand on the taxpayer in regard to the eradication of bovine tuberculosis.

In regard to this Supplementary Estimate, the whole set-up is a question of trying to get production. There is talk of increased production. There is not one single item in the Supplementary Estimate to ensure that for any single product we shall get an increased market. Over the past two or three years, since the Minister became Minister for Agriculture, there were unrivalled opportunities for getting new markets in many parts of the world. This Government and the Minister who directs the agricultural section of it have done nothing to get those markets. This Supplementary Estimate for Agriculture of £4,500,000 is just a confession of a bankrupt agricultural policy on the part of the Fianna Fáil Government. Might I suggest that a Supplementary Estimate of £4,500,000 for one Department alone creates a suspicion in my mind that this Government are not even going to face the Budget? They will run out before that.

We do not follow the Deputy's bad habits.

One point I should like to stress on this Supplementary Estimate is soil testing. I think it is a matter which has been neglected for too long in our advisory services. Soil testing——

I do not want to interrupt the Deputy but I do not know under what head he introduces this matter.

Lime, fertilisers and subsidies.

If the Deputy takes that line, I suppose I shall have to allow it.

Before either lime or fertilisers are applied to the soil, the soil should be tested so that the farmer will ensure that the money which he spends on lime and fertilisers is not wasted. Farmers very often are not able to get their soil tested in time to get the know-how as to what their land requires. I hold that it is not necessary for an inspector from the Department to take the sample and send it down to Johnstown Castle. I think it should be within the scope of any practical farmer to do it himself Indeed, if we were to wait for the agricultural instructors to do the job that is necessary under that heading, not alone would we want 300 agricultural instructors, as Deputy Dillon said, but we would want 1,000 to do the job that is required in that sphere of activity.

I feel that every farmer should be at liberty to send his soil samples to Johnstown Castle to be tested. The information should be made available to him so that he will know exactly the amount of lime, phosphates, potash or nitrogen or various other manures essential for the soil. That is the first essential in the application of lime and manures and it is a waste of time to apply those when they are not required in the soil.

For some years now we have had a pig progeny testing station in Cork. We expected great results from it and that we would have more grade A pigs going to the bacon factories. However, I have lost all confidence in bacon factories. The bacon factories and the millers are the greatest culprits in bringing down the level of existence of the small farmers—the millers in the price they are charging for their rations and their pig feeding, and the bacon factories in what they give to the farmer for his pigs when he sends them to the factory. I know that when he sells them in the house or in the fair he can often get £2 a pig more than he would get if he sent them to the factory. That shows there is something radically wrong in the bacon factories. It has not been rectified or solved by either this Minister or the previous Minister and I do not know if the next Minister will solve it. There is no doubt the greatest racket is going on within the bacon factories which will ruin the pig industry. They will give Grade A all right, and give a good price when pigs are very scarce, but you can send in the same quality pig three months afterwards and get £3 or £4 less.

Is it any wonder that the farmers are losing confidence in the whole set-up as regards pig breeding and the bacon factories? Possibly we shall have a long discussion on this tomorrow when we discuss the setting up of the new Pigs Board. Whether that will rectify the position or not I cannot say, but it will take some doing to break down the barrier that has been built up by the bacon factories and the millers who are reaping the reward of the hard work and industry of our small farmers.

The problem of the eradication of bovine tuberculosis is a very big one and one which although it is being tackled very energetically is not going on satisfactory lines. The incidence of tuberculosis is not being reduced to any great extent in the cattle. The pasteurisation of skim milk had a good effect in reducing the incidence in the calves and young store cattle but when those young cattle are put into bad houses and contaminated with the disease they succumb to it again. Bad cow byres also contribute largely to bovine tuberculosis and if the Minister would bring in another Supplementary Estimate to restore the double byre grant, it would be the wisest course he could adopt at present for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis. Good housing for the stock, coupled with good feeding when young, feeding with pasteurised milk, are the all important factors in the eradication of bovine tuberculosis. Until such steps are taken I cannot see much hope of getting rid of it.

I emphasise the double byre grant and good housing for store cattle. If the Minister could see his way to bring in a Supplementary Estimate for that purpose he would be doing far better work for the farmers than spending the money—I would say foolishly —in other ways. We have here a sum of £1,095,000 for veterinary fees for testing cattle. If the testing were stopped in the morning and if that £1,095,000 were given to the farmers for suitable housing for cattle—the "vets" will get enough to do—it would have a far better effect and there would be a quicker return from the efforts to get rid of bovine tuberculosis. We know enough about it now. We know what bovine tuberculosis is costing but it will never be done away with until the housing problem is fixed.

In the six southern counties we often come up against delays in the payment of the £15 headage grant. It is very hard to understand at times but I usually find the Department very helpful and reasonable. I want to point out that when the farmer sells his reactor cow in good faith, let it be at the mart or the fair, and gives up his red card and sends in the necessary document there really should be very little delay afterwards. I know we have cases where dealers are not playing the game. They are not sending in the cows readily enough to qualify the farmers for the £15 headage grant. That is a serious position for the dealer; it should not be a serious position for the farmer who fulfils his obligations by selling the cow. Any dealer who is carrying on a practice of that kind, who is not doing his duty in sending in the cows as they should be sent, to a recognised factory, should be immediately dispensed with by the Department and should no longer be recognised as a buyer of reactor cows.

I am sure there are not many involved in this racket but there are sufficient to create a certain amount of discontent and suspicion within the whole scheme because when a few farmers in an area must wait for three, four, or perhaps six months for the £15 headage grant they feel there is something wrong. I know what is wrong; the dealers have not done their duty either by the State or the farmer. It is high time the State took very strong action with these gentlemen who are not doing the duty expected from them. When they got the commission from the Department to buy these reactor cows, they should have acted up to that commission and, if they did not, their services should be dispensed with. At least, the farmer who sold his cows in good faith should not be the victim of such circumstances. He who sold his cows in good faith should get the £15 headage grant to which he is entitled. I hope that will be the case in future. I know that some of them are held up but I expect the Department will honour their agreement and compensate all farmers who sold their reactor cows to recognised dealers.

At the present time the price of calves is very bad. There is a glut of calves on the market because farmers, having gone through a couple of lean years, cannot afford to give new milk to calves. I wonder what the position will be? Where are all these calves going? The number of calves at fairs and marts is very much in excess of what it used to be and the price is shockingly low. I wonder if anything can be done to induce farmers to rear the calves as they did in the past? I believe the growing of excessive quantities of wheat is largely responsible. Too much of the good land has been wheat-ranched and the land is not then available to take the surplus cattle produced in the south.

We are presented with a Supplementary Estimate for the wheatgrowers and the millers' combine. We have gone almost too far in wheat-growing. I should like this country to grow sufficient wheat for its own requirements but I do not approve of excessive production of wheat. The Cork Committee of Agriculture were unanimous in recommending wheat-growing on contract so that there would not be too much wheat grown. It is a bad thing to grow large quantities of wheat, having regard to the fact that we must pass a Supplementary Estimate for almost £1,000,000. It would be better business if there were less wheat-ranching carried on and if more land were available for the cattle produced in the south.

When too much wheat is grown, the price of offals for pig-feeding is excessive. I mentioned earlier the excessive price of pig ration which is killing the pig industry. If wheat-growing raises the price of the pig ration, it means that the wheat is being grown at the expense of the pig industry, which is a very serious matter for the small farmer. The pig industry was of more vital importance to the small holder than the wheat industry was to the large holder.

Wheatgrowing also entails importation of a considerable amount of very valuable machinery for which we have to pay very dearly and which lasts only a few years and then has to be renewed. Expensive machinery for wheat production is imported at the expense of many small holdings in the poorer areas which depend on the pig, poultry and egg industries.

I am not opposed to wheatgrowing but I am opposed to excessive wheat-growing and wheat-ranching. It is detrimental to the interests of the country generally because it is costing too much in men, machinery and money and the sooner it is stopped, the better for all concerned.

There is a large Supplementary Estimate for dairy produce. I can appreciate the Minister's anxiety in regard to such a large Supplementary Estimate but the dairying industry, being the foundation of our whole economy, must get the protection of the State. The people cannot exist without the dairying industry. It goes hand in hand with the cattle industry. I hope it will always get the protection necessary for development. With the introduction of subsidiary lines such as chocolate crumb and dried milk, I expect there will be a better future for the industry and that as a result of the development of the subsidiary industries in Limerick, Mallow and other places, there will be a better price for milk in the poorer areas.

In the past, the people of Limerick and Tipperary always got a better price for milk than was obtainable in West Cork. I believe that the reason was that the overhead charges were not as great as the overhead charges in West Cork. In fairness, the people in West Cork should get at least as much for milk as the farmers up-country whose overhead costs are smaller. If overhead costs are high in West Cork, it automatically follows that profits are lower. It is up to the creameries, especially the Dairy Disposal Board creamery, which is Government-sponsored to do their best to bring down the overhead costs and give a better return to the dairy farmers of the area and so induce them to stay in the business.

I had not intended to speak on this Estimate but it would be wrong on my part to let it pass without making some protest. There are losses on the disposal of wheat amounting to roughly £240,000. The Government can be accused of not making an effort to dispose of this wheat by a proper method and so save the taxpayers such an amount of money. The Government knew well last October that this unmillable wheat was on hands. The Department knew it and their advisers knew it, but they made no effort whatever to handle that unmillable wheat. For three months they left it to stagnate in the stores with the Government sitting down, as they have done for the last number of years, and making no attempt whatever to handle it. I heard Deputy Wycherley's suggestion that wheat was causing an increase in the price of pig feeding. I do not think that is a good point because last year there was no wheat used in pig feeding. It was all used in the production of flour.

The bran and pollard were used.

The bran and pollard of foreign wheat were similarly used. There was no surplus. I do not think that there is much ranching in wheat in this country. The people in my own area grow wheat as a cash crop and there is no big ranching in it. I think that the Government have not done their duty to the wheat farmers, and to farmers in general, by not trying to dispose of that wheat in time. The wheat was there since last October and the first attempt made to handle it was in January of this year. In the meantime the stocks could have been reduced by one-third or one-half. Then they come along and, to damn wheat-growing, they dump it on the market and export it to give cheap feeding to other people.

It seems to me that the Minister is more anxious about the people in his own constituency of Cavan than he is about the agricultural industry in general. For years past, successive Governments have fostered the growing of wheat for the purpose of producing an article which is required by our people here. There are many industries in this country the raw materials for which we have to import and the Government have been giving subsidies to these industries over the past year to bolster up a case for increasing employment. Here is a case where men get employment on the land in growing produce required for the feeding of our own people and they are not getting the subsidies and encouragement which they are entitled to expect from a native Government.

They have been let down badly over the last three months and I must accuse the Minister of not doing his duty by the wheat growers and by the general farmers of the country. Nine million pounds a year is a lot to pay for imports. Here we have an article which is produced from the land by the people and which gives local employment and the Government have failed to give that encouragement to these people which would have prevented a lot of the emigration from the country areas. We all welcome new industries but we would prefer to see the people maintained on the land at the industry at which they and their fathers have always worked in this country.

Some early reference was made to the fact that in portion of my speech introducing this Supplementary Estimate I referred to the importance of grass and of the improvement of our grasslands. I think that on a previous occasion in this House I not only demonstrated but proved home to the hilt that for me personally, or for the Government of which I am a member, this is not a new discovery at all. We were subsidising the use of burned limestone as far back as 1933. In 1935 and 1936 we gave a subsidy on the use of phosphates. I admit that at that time it was a modest subsidy but if it was, then the price of phosphates at that period was also modest. In that period phosphates were delivered to myself at £2 10s. a ton.

And milk was fourpence a gallon.

I shall deal with milk later. It was fourpence a gallon for a long time and it was less than fourpence a gallon in 1930 and 1939.

And bullocks were £5 a head.

There is no question of conversion as far as the importance of the improvement of our grassland is concerned. The fact that substantial progress has been made by this Government in recent times towards the use of phosphates, and later towards the use of potash, is a demonstration of our interest in that development.

Some point was raised here, and I admit that it is a source of disappointment to me, that the use of ground limestone appears to have declined somewhat. I believe I know the reason; perhaps there are two or three reasons. One of the reasons, not only in 1960 but also in 1958, was the wet season. Some of the saving effected under this subhead was brought about because our Estimate last year provided for a usage of ground limestone in excess of the amount produced in the previous year. We thought, and apparently thought wrongly, that the subsidy on phosphates and potash would result in a greater use of ground limestone. What I suspect occurred, even apart from the fact that 1959/60 was a wet season, was that phosphates became so cheap that farmers were tempted to spend whatever money they could afford on phosphates rather than on phosphates and lime as well.

I have heard some Deputy suggest here that it was because of the withdrawal of portion of the transport subsidy that the use of ground limestone declined. I mentioned here before in the course of discussions on this subject that ground limestone can be procured and spread on a farmer's land in most places for well under £1 a ton, in some places for as low as 15/- a ton. Most reasonable people will accept that farmers could not expect to pay less than that price if they are to be asked to pay for it at all.

In preparing our Estimate for last year we reckoned on a sale of somewhere around 900,000 tons of ground limestone, and that was almost 200,000 tons in excess of the figure for the previous year. As I say, that has not been realised; in fact usage this year will be less than 700,000 tons and somewhat less than the figure for 1959. I am still hopeful that while phosphates and potash may be cheap and may give perhaps more spectacular results in the early stages, farmers will see the error of their ways and use ground limestone to a greater extent.

A Deputy from Westmeath mentioned that one of the quarries there had closed down. It must be accepted that the owners of these quarries would not close down if they saw a prospect of continuity of employment and continuity of sales. I admit that the springtime of the year is the time when there is the greatest rush, but lime can be applied to the land all during the year and there is no objection, even in respect of a small farm, to using lime in the summertime when the producers want to sell it and when it can be spread with the greatest ease. To listen to the Deputy who addressed himself to the fact that one such place was closed in County Westmeath, one would think the owner of such a concern could afford to keep it open for the farmers during those four or five weeks starting around this time and ending when the crop was in the ground. I am disappointed that more use is not being made of ground limestone which is so cheap and which is so vital if we are to make progress in improving the land and improving the quality of the grass.

Some Deputies spoke about the recruiting of expert technical advice to drive home to all land owners the importance of using all these devices in order to bring farming up to a proper standard. Some reasons were given as to why landowners were falling down on their task. There are several reasons for it. It is not all a matter of emigration or of the movement of people from rural parts. Some of the reasons for it do not appear to have been mentioned. However, even when we know the reasons I do not think any of us can find a solution for that problem.

Anyone who knows rural Ireland knows that much of the land in the fertile parts as well as that in the parts which are not so fertile is in the hands of people who are getting old, who are late in getting married, who may be too far advanced when they become owners of the family home and farmstead. Unable to find the means of settling down they lose ambition. They just carry on in that free and easy way, leaving the land to itself. They carry a low stock. I do not think anyone will deny that that is one of the largest contributing factors to so much of the land having that neglected and deserted appearance. When you travel along the road, whether it be in West Cork, Cavan or any other part of the country——

Or Sligo-Leitrim.

Or Sligo-Leitrim or Kilkenny, Antrim, Tyrone, Fermanagh or any part of the country where a farmer is active and ambitious and has taken the essential early steps, you will see in most cases he will have been able to bring the condition of his land and the capacity of his land to produce and to provide a reasonable income to a higher standard. Where that effort is made and where the land is reasonably good, satisfactory results can be obtained. There is no disagreement on this matter but I am not prepared to admit that the answer to the problem, as presented here, is the recruitment of agricultural advisers, unless the landowners are prepared to make full use of them.

I was asked to give a break-down of the figure for bovine tuberculosis shown in the Estimate. While I have given most of them already, I think I should give these figures again. The first is for fees to veterinary surgeons, £1,301,000. Comment has been made on the enormous size of that sum and I agree that it is tremendously large but these standards were set for me long before I came into this office There is no use in complaining about them now. It may be that they are on the generous side, but we can say with truth that the task which we undertook in facing the problem of the eradication of this disease was known to be—and was in fact—in every country an enormous one. I am quite sure that those who arrived at the determination of what the veterinary surgeons—the private practitioners— should receive for this work took all these factors into consideration. Perhaps if I had the responsibility they had for that decision, I should do the same thing. In any case, it is essential that the goodwill of the veterinary surgeons should be secured and naturally the element of compensation has quite a lot to do with securing that objective.

The next item here is compensation for reactors, £3,398,500. That also is a substantial sum, but again it was, and is necessary still and will remain necessary. It was necessary in the first case to cultivate the understanding and, as a result, secure the cooperation, of the farmers. When a herd has been tested —perhaps a herd of 10 cows—if two three or four of these animals fail, these are often the animals that are most useful from the farmer's point of view, the best milkers, perhaps not the best from the point of view of appearance but yet the most valuable to the owner. The basis of the compensation in that case would have to be generous and would have to have regard to the potential value of the cows and the valuer would have to disregard the fact that when the animals were slaughtered they might give a very poor return on a per 1b. basis.

This is one of the things on which I have kept a very keen eye because I could see the margin of difference between the appropriation-in-aid and the amount of compensation paid for these animals. Of course, there are a number of other tests one could apply in order to see if uniformity was being preserved to a reasonable degree. Just as I said in the case of the veterinary surgeons, it was necessary to be generous in these cases. Not only that but there is evidence that in fact we were generous and even though it has proved to be excessive, I have no hesitation in saying it was the wisest course to pursue.

The next item is the headage grant to southern counties. That amounted to £1,193,000. I think there was only slight reference in this discussion to the headage grant and it was referred to as if it were more vulnerable from the point of view of abuse than the system prevailing elsewhere, the purchase direct by buyers representing the Department. There is no justification whatever for that claim. In fact the whole scheme was vulnerable enough but it is not possible to design a scheme that will not be vulnerable and if there were certain allegations in regard to the headage grant scheme in the five Munster counties and one Leinster county, there were also deep suspicions in many other cases and there might even be prosecutions in other parts of the country where direct purchase of reactors had taken place. I do not want to refer further to this, except to emphasise that there was no greater element of weakness from the point of view of danger of abuse in this scheme than in the other method which prevailed in other parts.

The next item is the clear herd bonus which amounts to £167,000. I think the number of clear herds which 5,500 in the counties concerned. The have emerged as a result of that is next heading is "Water Supplies." That subhead has jumped considerably to £113,000 and there is every evidence of a tremendous extension in the provision of water by farmers. It is a very desirable development and one that will certainly be encouraged and supported as much as possible.

I have dealt with the export subsidy on fat cattle and beef which amounts to £241,000 and, as Deputies are aware, it is given for export and provision is made also for local butchers. The purpose of this was not to subsidise but to make the prices of animals about which there might be certain suspicions more secure and to make the market more stable. Travelling expenses amounted to £85,000, tuberculin tags and byre grants to £67,000 and miscellaneous items to £76,000. The appropriations-in-aid amounted to £1,830,000 and the nett loss was £4,812,000.

I was asked about the development with regard to Bordens. I myself feel that development is one of the most desirable things that has happened for quite a long time, so far as our dairy products are concerned. It is not easy, however wise it may appear, to change over from reliance entirely on the production of butter to the production of chocolate crumb milk powder, chocolate crumb and a slow process. This development, so far as I know, will not be very spectacular in the early stages. Bordens are erecting a packing, sorting, processing and marketing centre at Mallow—I do not know how far they have advanced—and they will depend upon a contract with five centres in which the milk powder business has been in operation—Mallow, Mitchelstown, Dungarvan, Tipperary and Limerick.

I do not know, as yet, what form their contract will take. It may be a two, three or five year contract and I expect it will contain some quota provision to start off with. That will be necessary because there are other purposes to which milk is being diverted in those areas, milk for chocolate crumb and milk for manufacture of cheese. It will be necessary to have a planned programme. Bordens are operating in other countries, I take it, and I suspect they are not philanthropists. No matter how big or how powerful they are, I suspect they know, and have regard, to the price at which milk for conversion into milk powder may be obtained elsewhere.

We have to have regard to a number of other factors. We are anxious to have milk converted into cheese, milk powder and cheese. It is rather any other milk product for which there is a reasonable market, provided it is likely to reduce the amount and the extent of the burden being carried by the taxpayers in respect of the sale of butter or any other milk product. We are anxious, naturally, to divert milk to purposes which will relieve the Exchequer and the taxpayers to the greatest possible extent. For that reason, and believing that the firm of Bordens will make a contribution towards that end, I certainly welcome that development.

On the matter of wheat and the provision being made for the disposal of unmillable wheat, I want to say that everyone in this House realises that the harvest of 1960 was even worse than it looked—and it looked bad enough. As I said in my introductory remarks, the amount of dried wheat realised from the harvest of 1960 was 350,000 tons. If it had been a normal year, the calculations we had made in order to determine the amount of the levy would have been very nearly accurate. The weakness in the levy system, from the point of view of relieving the taxpayers in years like 1954, 1956, 1958 and 1960, is that it does not have regard to the fact that in our circumstances and with our climate, we can have a bad season such as we had in the years to which I have referred.

While it is a simple matter to use 75 per cent. or 80 per cent.— or a higher figure for that matter, for all I know—of Irish wheat in the grist, when the quality of the wheat falls to a very low level, that is a different matter entirely. I do not claim to be an expert on what a good loaf is, but those who consume bread, even though they are not experts, have a fair idea of the quality of a loaf. The housewife will have a fair idea of the quality of the loaf, and the price of the loaf, and the price of everything else. When the consumption of flour, say, has fallen for any reason, there is no sense in our talking about the provision of a loaf from the wheat of the 1960 harvest just as if the standard were as high as the wheat of the 1959 harvest. As I say, the dried wheat intake amounted to 350,000 tons, and I think the usage percentage would be roughly about 100,000 tons. We have not finally determined this question as we have submitted it as to millability and usability to a number of authorities. Assuming the amount should be around 100,000 tons, we have yet to dispose of 250,000 tons. I am asked where it is. Most of it is here. We are trying to sell it at home. We are exporting some of it. We are trying to dispose of it so as to face next season's harvest.

We have a guaranteed price for barley, too. That guaranteed price and the provision of feeding compounds at the lowest possible rate are important considerations for those engaged in pig production, the feeding of livestock, and so on. We cannot deal, in isolation, with a problem such as our last harvest. Rather, we must have regard to the whole picture and try to be fair and reasonable to everybody.

On another occasion we shall have an opportunity of dealing with pig production and the marketing and grading of pigs. There is no thought in my mind other than to encourage the small producer to remain in business. I should like to retain the small producer and to encourage him to become a little larger.

In present circumstances and with conditions as they are everywhere, it is not reasonable to expect that a small farmer could get an income or secure a profit from three batches of four or five pigs, which would represent about eighteen pigs a year. If the man who knows everything that is to be known in relation to pig production could be encouraged to produce, say, twenty at a time it would be a very good thing. The recent grants for piggeries are weighted in favour of the small man. There is a place for the fairly large producer but let us load the dice, as I have tried to do, in favour of the smaller man.

I shall have something to say, later, on the grading system. I do not want to convey that business people are saints; none of us is. I have no interest in protecting them. However, I dislike charges, which I feel are false, as to dishonesty on the part of these concerns. There is no reason why the trader with whom I deal should not be a rogue any more than any other businessman. I never question the weights he gives me. Some people may do so but they are a very small percentage of our people.

If I own a bacon factory and if I want to be a rogue it is not easy to see how I could successfully carry it off without the co-operation of my employees. I know the suspicions of the country man and the small man. Sometimes he may not get it fairly; sometimes it may be entirely accidental; maybe, the odd time, the dishonest thing could happen. I do not suggest we should defend what is wrong or unjust. However, it is better not to condemn as swiftly as we are prone to do in this House and as public men outside are prone to do. We ought to be able to protect ourselves and the producer without doing that.

Vote put and agreed to.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday 8th March, 1961.