Committee on Finance. - Vote 37—Agriculture (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That a sum not exceeding £40,037,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1968, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, including certain Services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain Subsidies and sundry Grants-in-Aid.—(Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries).

Last night I dealt with some matters of detail contained in the Minister's speech. Since then I have had the opportunity of making a closer study of this 25-page document. I must say that this speech of the Minister, introducing his annual Estimate, is clearly indicative of the complacency which for such a long time has been characteristic of the Fianna Fáil attitude towards the agricultural industry of this country. There is no evidence in the Minister's speech of any serious attempt-to come to grips with the many serious difficulties in this major national industry. There is very little in this Estimate which will stimulate our farmers to meet challenge and competition within the EEC.

The worst feature of the speech is that the Minister has given no really convincing proof of his desire to restore good relations between himself and the NFA. It is a national tragedy and a terrible indictment of the Government that, at a time when our country is on the threshold of EEC, we should be facing a situation in which our most important national industry is in a state of chaos and confusion, and in which the morale of the farming community is at its lowest ebb.

I stated last night that most of the difficulties of Irish agriculture at present stem from the failure of the Government when introducing the Second Programme for Economic Expansion to formulate a realistic policy for agriculture. The Second Programme has produced disastrous results for Irish agriculture and we are now faced with the prospects of becoming a member of the European Economic Community with our agriculture in a state of chaos and our farmers not fully equipped to compete with their more fortunate counter-parts in western Europe. It is ridiculous to expect our farmers to be able to compete with the Danes and the Dutch unless our Government are prepared to give them the same level of financial and technical assistance as is available to the farmers in Western Europe.

Instead of availing of the breathing space provided over the past four or five years to prepare our farmers for entry to the European Economic Community, the Government have allowed the agricultural industry to sink into the doldrums and have allowed to develop a situation in which the flight from the land has been accelerated to an unprecedentedly high level, a situation in which there is chaos in the cattle industry, the closure of bacon factories and unprecedented unrest among the farming community.

I have no hesitation whatever in accusing the Government of scandalous neglect of agriculture. I accuse the Government of failure to provide the leadership and the financial and technical assistance which would have stimulated and encouraged our farmers to organise their production along the most efficient lines. In addition, I deplore the attitude of the Minister in his handling of the dispute with the National Farmers Association. I deplore his arrogant and dictatorial manner and the steamrolling tactics which he has adopted in the matter of the establishment of the National Agricultural Council. I am convinced that the farmers have no confidence in the National Agricultural Council and will have no confidence in that body until the Minister faces up to his responsibilities and restores peace and goodwill with the National Farmers Association.

There are various points in the Minister's speech to which I referred last night and there are other points to which I have yet to refer. I want to say something about the bacon industry which is of vital concern to the constituency which I represent where there has been a closure of one of the oldest-established bacon industries in the country.

In the past couple of years there has been a serious decline in pig numbers. This is another consequence of the agricultural policy the Government have been pursuing in recent years. I understand that in the first four months of this year, pig deliveries to bacon factories were down by 110,000 as compared with the same period last year and that this reduction took place despite the fact that 20,000 to 30,000 pigs were brought in across the Border. Still more serious is the fact that present indications are that deliveries of pigs to bacon factories in this year, 1967, will be in the region of 1.4 million as compared with 1.65 million in 1966 and 1.8 million in 1965.

The Minister made reference to what is perhaps the most important aspect of pig and bacon production, that is, the establishment of a satisfactory feed price/pig price ratio. He indicated that he was examining this situation. The sooner some satisfactory formula is arrived at to relate the price of feed to the price of pig, the better. Unless this is done, there will be a further decline in pig numbers and further closures of bacon factories.

Last night, when speaking on the co-operative movement, I said that I was convinced that co-operation could play a very large part in encouraging increased pig production. I am very much in favour of the promotion and establishment of co-operative pig fattening units and I would appeal to the Minister and his Department to explore the possibilities of having further large-scale pig fattening co-operatives established, particularly in any region where there is a bacon factory. I would also ask the Minister to reconsider the proposals contained in the memorandum which I personally submitted to him two months ago following the closure of Matterson's Bacon Factory in Limerick, one of which was that his Department and the Dairy Disposal Company, together with the Pigs and Bacon Commission, should examine the possibility of establishing a large-scale pig fattening co-operative near Limerick in order to ensure that the remaining two bacon factories in our city will be able to remain in production.

The question of the disposal of surplus milk is becoming a serious problem. I quoted an extract from a local paper last night. I noticed in one of this morning's newspapers that the agricultural correspondent of the particular paper has reported that there is a serious problem arising in the matter of the disposal of surplus skim milk. I know that certain difficulties have arisen in the export markets for skim milk and that Bord Bainne are making an all-out effort to develop new markets, particularly in Eastern countries. I do sincerely hope that the efforts of Bord Bainne in this direction will be successful, because the fact that creameries are now returning skim milk to the farmers means a considerable reduction in the dairy farmers' income. To my own knowledge, there are farmers in certain areas in County Limerick who have been informed that the creameries are unable to accept all the skim milk which the farmers were prepared to leave there. Therefore it is very important that a special effort be made to secure additional export outlets for skim milk powder.

The Minister made passing reference to the re-organisation and rationalisation of the creamery industry. He indicated that a certain amount of progress was being made, but we have no information as to the extent of that progress. As far as I am aware, there is considerable interest now among creamery milk suppliers and creamery committees in the possibilities of re-organisation and rationalisation of the creamery industry. There is no doubt whatsoever that some degree of re-organisation is necessary, but unfortunately when the question of re-organisation was introduced 18 months or two years ago, the approach was a bad one and farmers were inclined to be very suspicious of the advantages of re-organising. Now that the climate of opinion is favourable towards re-organisation, I trust this matter will be approached cautiously and that in every area where re-organisation or amalgamation is recommended, it will be made quite clear to the farmers concerned what the advantages are and what increased prices they can expect for their milk. There is no use in merely telling a creamery committee or the average milk suppliers that their co-operative should amalgamate with a larger one ten miles away; we may have to spell out to the farmers the advantages of this amalgamation or re-organisation.

Irish agriculture has vast potential for further development. I believe that if our farmers are given the necessary inducements and the necessary encouragement, they can gear themselves to produce as efficiently as other farmers in the world. However, there will have to be a completely new approach on the part of the Minister and his Department, or perhaps on the part of the Government, because we cannot gear our agriculture up to a competitive level unless the Government is prepared, first of all, to provide adequate financial assistance to the farmer by way of grants and loans. We shall have to have a proper advisory service. We shall have to have a national agricultural advisory service linked directly to the Agricultural Institute and to the Faculty of Agriculture in the National University. There is need for specialist advisers in addition to the general agricultural adviser, specialist advisers who have received post-graduate training in such things as the methods and techniques of co-operative organisation, specialist advisers in the field of disease control and specialist advisers in other fields as well.

We must, of course, establish marketing boards for the various commodities. The progress made by Bord Bainne in the field of export marketing of dairy products is a guideline for the establishment of marketing boards for other commodities as well. I cannot see why a meat marketing board cannot be established. I cannot see why some effort should not be made to rationalise the marketing of livestock in order to prevent seasonal gluts and seasonal fluctuation in prices.

There will have to be a comprehensive small farm development plan based on co-operation. As I have stated already, I regret very much— in fact, I cannot understand it—that in his speech introducing the Estimate for his Department, the Minister made no reference whatsoever to the co-operative movement, a Minister who comes from Donegal, which is associated and synonymous with the co-operative movement. There is no mention of co-operation or of what the Government's plans are in relation to co-operation.

Neither the Minister nor his Department is fully aware of the overwhelming difficulties with which our farmers have had to contend, particularly over the past 18 months. In the early part of 1966, there was a steep fall in calf prices. That was followed by a bad spring and a fodder shortage. There was a high mortality rate among livestock. Then we had the slump in cattle prices in the autumn. These are but some of the many difficulties with which our farmers have had to contend. When we take these into account, we realise why there has been so much unrest and so much agitation over the past 12 months. We have every natural advantage for a viable, competitive agricultural industry. We have the soil, the climate and many other natural conditions conducive to successful agriculture. Our farmers are industrious, capable and intelligent. Unfortunately, we have a Government who seem to have no interest in the agricultural industry. There need be no doubt whatsoever about the competitive position of Irish agriculture in the European Economic Community, provided we have a realistic Government policy and a satisfactory and harmonious relationship between the Government and the farmers' organisations. The solution to the present difficulties rests primarily with the Minister because, in the last analysis, he is the person who carries the responsibility for this important industry. I regret that the Minister has given no indication or shown no evidence of his desire for harmony, peace and progress in agriculture.

The Minister's speech is very misleading in relation to the average small farmer. The picture is not at all as rosy as the Minister would have us believe. The very fact that at this very moment there are a large number of farmers in jail shows that the policy pursued by the Government does not favour the average small farmer. Whether or not we agree with the way in which the campaign has been conducted, the fact is that these people were prepared to make sacrifices in order to achieve their ends.

The Minister should really examine the whole situation now. I lay the entire blame at his door. The Minister's predecessor made the first really big mistake when he refused to meet the farmers out in Merrion Street. I do not agree with the "no rates" campaign but I believe the Minister was guilty of a little political roguery in attempting to try to turn public opinion against a particular section of the farming community. Everyone is aware, and not least the Minister, that the "no rates campaign" had been called off when these people were seized. It is my belief that the Minister is trying to get more political kudos out of the situation than may have been originally intended.

With regard to cereals, the Minister takes credit for an increase of 10/- per barrel in the price of wheat. That works out at an increase of 6d per stone. I do not regard that as a fair increase, remembering the cost of fertilisers and everything else. The price for barley is 45/- per barrel. That is 10/- or 12/- below what the price should be. I remember when it was 84/- per barrel in 1957 or 1958. It seems extraordinary that in 1967 the price should drop to 45/- at a time when everything else has increased in price. That shows a definite trend backwards instead of forward.

The policy of the Minister and his predecessor is quite wrong in relation to oats. I have said before—I repeat it now—that there are people in this country who would not eat an Irish loaf if they could have an imported one. There are racehorse owners and breeders who will not feed Irish oats to their horses. The Minister should stop the importation of foreign oats. At the same time, he should give the Irish farmer the inducement of a proper price for his oats. Very little oats are grown because of the unsatisfactory price.

With regard to credit, the farmer with money can get all the credit he wants. The small farmer can get no credit because he has no security to offer and he is unable to meet the high interest rates. The policy with regard to loans for dwellinghouses and out-offices should be reversed; loans should be given on a valuation basis. The wealthy can avail of every loan and grant but the average small farmer, with 20 or 30 acres of land, is unable to meet the interest rate. The odd thing is that he receives the same kind of grant as the man with the money. If we want to help every small farmer, then it should be on a valuation basis. Give the man with no cheque-book a higher grant than the man who can afford it. I do not mean that we should reduce the grant for the fairly extensive farmer but the grant should be graded so that the small farmer will get a higher grant and maybe at a cheaper rate. If a farmer reads in the daily paper that there is a substantial grant for a piggery, a byre or a poultry-house and sends away for a form which he fills up and returns to the Department and an inspector comes down to assess the situation and the grant is sanctioned, then the matter is of no concern to him because he has the money to pay off the balance. However, the people whom the Department want to help have difficulty in such cases because of the balance which remains to be paid and which they find it difficult to get together. The Minister should draw up some scheme to help the really small farmer of whom we talk so much but for whom we do so little.

The sheep-dipping scheme is a complete farce as it works at present. Galway is a sheep-rearing county and farmers from adjoining counties who go to Portumna to buy sheep will not get a certificate that the sheep have been dipped unless they buy the entire stock of sheep of the seller. If he buys 40 per cent, 50 per cent or 70 per cent of the stock, he will not get the certificate that they have been dipped and then when he, in his turn, goes to sell them he has a problem.

I have advocated before and I do so again that the Department should devise a colour scheme which would not harm the wool but which would make it clear that sheep with wool of that colour had been dipped. Some counties are not working the sheep-dipping scheme at all and until every county adopts it we shall not do away with sheep scab. We cannot do anything at present because of the way the certificates are worked. This is an extremely important matter.

The price of cattle has improved substantially in the past six or seven months but only for a certain type of cattle, the heavy, almost beef, type. The small farmer has been hit last year and this year in this respect. Yearlings or calves of nine, ten or 11 months are as cheap today as they were 12 months ago. I suppose that, with the heifer scheme, all those people who had 16 and 18 heifers came in under it and have now flooded the market and can afford to hold the cattle. Around Newport, County Tipperary, and elsewhere, the small farmer is getting a very small price for small stock whereas the big farmer who can afford to carry on cannot grumble at the price of heavy cattle.

There is an increase of 6/- per cwt. in the price of pigs. The factories want pigs weighing about 12 stones which would mean an increase of roughly 10/- per pig. I do not think that increase will save the pig industry. They will not take pigs weighing 15 or 16 stones. I do not know the reason for the present decline in pigs but one important fact is that the producers are not getting a price that will pay them. Feeding methods have changed. In the past, I suppose they used to feed pigs on their own potatoes, and so on. Maybe they were making more profits then.

I appeal to the Minister to try to settle the farming dispute. Everybody cannot be a big man and often, in trying to be a big man, one makes oneself very small. I do not agree that the Minister should take control of this council. The Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Davern, was at one time on the same body as I was, namely, the General Council of County Councils. I wonder what the General Council of County Councils in Ireland would think if we attended a meeting in Dublin and had a county manager as chairman. The Minister has men in his Department who are able and willing to do the necessary work in this connection. The fact that the Minister has taken control has undermined the whole scheme. I am not taking the NFA side but any Minister of any Party should be the last man to be chairman of a council which will recommend or dictate policy to a Department, particularly when it is the Minister's Department. For a long number of years, the Minister was on the General Council of County Councils. He would be one of the first to object if he discovered that a county manager of a known political allegiance was appointed chairman of the General Council of County Councils. He should have another look at this matter.

If I had arrived in the House last night from another planet, I might have believed what the Minister had to say in his opening statement on the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture. I represent a fairly small constituency west of the Shannon. The Minister's speech last night proved finally to me that neither he nor the officials of his Department are really familiar with the state of the agricultural industry or, if they are, they are not honest enough to show the House that they are familiar with the state of the entire agricultural situation in the country.

The first 20 odd pages of the Minister's speech are typical of the sort of speech we now get from various Ministers. It is very superficial. It glosses over anything bad and boosts anything that is fairly good. That is not good enough. We should be told the actual state of agriculture. When we come to about page 20, the Minister comes down to earth with a bang and back to his old tactics of fighting the NFA. The time has come when the Minister and his colleagues should put aside the attitude of "We are right and they are wrong". It does not matter who is right and who is wrong. What matters is that the agricultural community will once more have a happy relationship with the Minister and his Department. We cannot have any progress in agriculture while one vast section of the farmers are fighting the Minister.

The first few lines on page 24 read:

The association's campaign, which has discredited the organisation and does not represent the true feeling of more than a handful of farmers——

That is a ridiculous statement. There are large numbers of people who are members of the NFA and their activities, whether they were wise or unwise, represented the feelings of the NFA. To try to put the idea over that only a very few large farmers were involved is ridiculous. I find myself in a strange position in regard to this dispute. As a member of Fine Gael and having connections with legal families, I cannot condone the actions of the NFA but my heart is with the farmers because I farm myself. I do not think the Minister does because if he does, he cannot have been trying to sell his cattle recently and cannot have been trying to sell them for the past 18 months. I know what the position of the cattle industry has been for the past 18 months. It has been very serious. There was a time when we prided ourselves that the cattle industry was the most important industry we had; it is still the most important industry we have but it is not being properly handled.

When the Minister's predecessor concluded the Trade Agreement with Britain, we were promised all sorts of marvellous things and the Minister came back and said: "We got all we asked for." Either they did not ask for enough or they did not ask for the right things because the net results have been very bad. Despite the Minister's assurances that if farmers kept their cattle for a few months the price would rise by £7 or £8, we all know what happened: the bottom fell out of the cattle industry and there was a serious drop in prices. For the first time ever we had large numbers of cattle on the land. This was attributed to the heifer scheme. I know that it is a good thing to have a number of cattle on hand but I believe the heifer scheme, while it did build up the cattle numbers, did nothing to improve the quality of the cattle. Certainly in the West and in my own constituency, it was responsible for the sudden re-appearance of scrub bulls and the type of cattle bred was disastrous. I should not like to repeat the name given to them by one prominent cattle man in my constituency.

In the Minister's speech, I notice a reference to the AI stations. I used to believe that artificial insemination was the answer to good breeding but I found from experience on my own farm, and I also found this from talking to other people, that the progeny from the station that serves us in Clarecastle are not good. At one time I went to the trouble of getting from Clarecastle a list of the bulls and I looked up their pedigrees. The bulls were very well bred but certainly the calves they were producing were not good and are still not good. I do not know whether that is true of AI stations all over the country but I should like the Minister to have a look at the Clarecastle station. We have given up using it and quite a number of hardheaded cattle people in the constituency have reverted to private bulls. A large amount of money has been spent on these bulls and something should be done about the matter. They should be proven before they are let into the stations.

I notice that there has been a big swing from Friesians back to Herefords. I can understand this because in my own area where farms are small a number of people, especially those going into dairy farming, went into Friesians but found that the Friesians were difficult to feed and required a lot of grass in addition to a lot of stallfeeding. I do not believe that the small farmer realised that Friesian calves were so hard to rear. If they do not get a good start, then they never make the grade and even when they develop in years, they never improve. That explains the swing away from Friesians, certainly in the West. It is a pity, because if we are to make a success of dairying, the Friesians could be the answer. I am glad to note that the Aberdeen Angus bulls have been purchased but I should like the Minister to tell us whether these will go into the AI stations or will be leased out to private owners like the Charolais bulls were. I should be interested to know what the Minister intends to do in this regard and whether if we open our own herds, they will be automatically open to all other groups. As Deputy Clinton said, there has been a complete swing around. There was a time when the Aberdeen Angus were too big; now they are too small and the answer is probably to have the big one again.

There was a fleeting reference to the Charolais in the Minister's speech and I should like him to tell us how the Charolais are progressing. We get little or no information about them and it is very difficult to make a breed popular if they are not being pushed. No effort has been made by the Department to do this and people will not become interested unless the Department make a determined effort to get the idea over to the general farming public that it is a good thing to have Charolais cattle.

As far as I could see, there was no reference to a meat marketing board or to any way in which we could market our cattle. This is a glaring omission because of the necessity to have some board or proper meat marketing facilities set up.

Like Deputy Tierney, I was sorry to see the Minister taking the chair in the NAC. This council was set up with a great fanfare of trumpets and we expected great things from it. However, it is overloaded with the Minister and Government people. It has not got the confidence of the people in general. I know that it is difficult to get members of any committee who will be non-political as such but the NAC is overloaded with Fianna Fáil people and the general body of the community have not got any great confidence in it. It is a pity, when the Minister went to the trouble of setting up this council, that he did not do it right.

There is a reference to licensing the marts and I cannot understand why it is necessary. Perhaps the Minister will tell us why. When I first read of it in the newspapers, my first reaction was that this was another attempt by the Minister to have "a bash" at the NFA. It is direct interference by the Government with farmers' business and it is not a good thing. I do not see why it is necessary at all.

The sheep industry is the industry that interests me most in my constituency. Like the cattle industry, it is not in very good shape at the moment. Prices are down on what they were two years ago and wool prices are very low. I do not think there is much future for the wool trade. I cannot see that the Minister can do much about this as it is a world-wide trend as people change over to synthetic fibres. There was a time when wool was of vital importance to the farmers and they kept the wool money to pay their rates. That day, however, has gone. The sheep industry will not benefit much from the subsidy. Those who keep mountain sheep know that it is a very hazardous business, especially if you run into a hard year. You cannot run them too heavily or you will have all sorts of complications. Therefore the subsidy will be of very little benefit to them. For people on the lowlands who keep sheep, there is no subsidy at all.

The sheep industry is of vital importance to us in Galway. The lamb trade last year was bad and indeed this year it was not great either. A few years ago we had a very good French trade which now seems to have fizzled out. I should like the Minister to tell us, despite the EEC, whether we could still get lambs into France. It is all very fine for the Department or the Minister to tell farmers to increase stocks, to get in money by fertilising and increasing stocks. That is grand until the unfortunate farmer tries to sell the stock. I remember a time in Loughrea when there were two lamb auctions every year and thousands of lambs were sold. Last year, as in every other year, my lambs went to the auction and some were sold but I still have some. What is the point of saying we should increase production if you have a situation like that, if you arrive at the stage when you can say: "I have more lambs than ever before but what am I to do with them?"

That happened in the pig trade. When prices were good, the farmers went into pig rearing fairly extensively. Then the bottom dropped out of the pig business, prices of feeding stuff became very high and immediately the farmers got out. As a result we now have chaos in the pig industry. A certain amount of assistance is given to the industry but what is needed is some kind of guarantee in respect of prices because if they continue to fluctuate, it will be a question of in and out with the farmers; they will be in one year and out the next when prices are bad. That will not benefit the farmers or the country at large.

Deputy T. O'Donnell was very keen on pig co-operatives. There are two in my constituency, one which started some years ago and which has not been so very successful and a second one at Gort which has been enormously successful and hopes to expand this year. In that area the farmers certainly have benefited considerably by keeping pigs and what we may describe as their prosperity has been envied somewhat by the Portumna people who have tried to start a pig co-operative of their own. So far, I understand, they have not secured any Government loan or grant. I put it to the Minister that he should consider their application favourably because this is an area where farmers are hard hit at present. They are hard hit everywhere but particularly in this area because there is no factory of any description there and a good pig co-operative is an essential.

The Minister referred to agricultural colleges. Not half enough money is being spent in educating our young farmers. There used to be a few colleges, I think, that gave two years' education to young farmers but I understand that it is now one year in all cases and it is quite difficult to get into those colleges. That is a great pity. Certainly, if we go into EEC, we must have farmers who are forward looking and well educated, know what they want and where they are going. I do not think we can have them unless we give them sound agricultural education. The rural domestic economy schools are a complete farce, as far as I can see, and I spent a year in one of them. It was supposed to be one of the best in the country. They were used for cheap labour and nothing else. We did nothing but clean and polish and shine and we learned nothing.

That is a terrible shame. Girls are sent there by parents who believe they are doing the best they can for their children who get very little education as such. The word "domestic" could be taken out because, as far as I know, no domestic economy is taught, which is a shame because no matter what a girl does later on, she will have to be able to run her house.

I am sure that a great many Deputies know that we seem to be able to get through school without ever learning any domestic economy. We learn it by practising it on our unfortunate husbands. That is not good enough. When the State supplies money to these schools, the State has a duty to see that it is spent properly in these schools. Much more money could be spent on the rural domestic economy schools and on the schools for boys.

I noted in a reference in the Minister's speech that the Department are calling this "Fertiliser Year". I cannot see the point of that because certainly it has not come to my attention that any greater push was made this year than any other year to get farmers to use fertilisers. It is very easy to get the tillage man to use fertilisers because he has to do so, but it is not easy to persuade the grassman that he must fertilise if he wants to increase his stock numbers. Money is scarce at the moment and he is rather wary about increasing stock numbers because people have lost confidence in the agricultural industry. Only last weekend I met a man who said, referring to a report in one of the daily newspapers some time earlier under the heading "Department advise: sell your cattle", that he wondered if we all unloaded our cattle on the market now, what would happen: would we be able to sell them all? We are arriving at a time when farmers are wondering will they be able to get rid of their stock. We must be able to assure farmers that not only will they be able to sell their stock but that they will be able to get good prices for it. If assured of that, I think they would realise it was in their best interests to make increased use of fertiliser on the land.

I think the Minister for Agriculture and his colleagues who are at present, shall we say, trying to aggravate the NFA should abandon these tactics. The time has come for the Ministers concerned to stop making speeches at the NFA and to placate rather than aggravate and try to get the farmers and the Ministers working together for the good of the country and their own good. I cannot understand the present Minister for Agriculture—I could understand that his predecessor was not familiar with farmers and their problems—who is a countryman and should be able to realise that farmers do not take desperate measures such as those they have taken unless they are in a desperate plight, sitting back and sort of sneering at them. Why produce a speech like that, which was an insult to the farmers of the country?

The time has come when the Minister, instead of sitting over there, utilising three or four pages of his speech to abuse the NFA, should say to them: "It does not matter now who is right or wrong. We must meet and fix this matter up and get back to work and forget the past." One way in which that could be done would be for the Minister for Justice to forget about bonds and fines. That is over and done with, or it should be, by now and we should look to the future and try to ensure that we shall never again have a situation in which farmers will be driven to such desperate measures.

It seems to be the deliberate policy of the Government to try to divide the farmers. I have watched that for quite a while. I heard a Deputy from my own constituency making a speech here on the Estimate for the Department of Lands—he is not a farmer—trying to point out to the farmers that it was the big farmerversus the middle farmer or the little farmer. We have not so many big farmers in the country. One would think it was Argentina with all its big ranchers. There are a few big farmers here but it is in the farmers in general that we should be interested, not whether they are big, little or small. We should try to keep them together, working in co-operation. That should be the aim of the Minister, not to divide them into three or four sections and have them at each other's throats unless it is his aim to have them at each other's throats rather than have them at his throat. The whole thing is a terrible mess and it is time that both the Minister for Agriculture and his two colleagues, who have spent so much of their time aggravating them, gave it up and tried to make peace instead.

Having listened to my colleague on the Opposition benches, I must say she made a very fine speech. The one part of her speech which she spoiled completely was when she alleged that the wrongs were all on the Government's side as far as this dispute was concerned. The majority of Deputies are of farming stock. They have been reared on the land and brought up that way. Their object is to try to improve the lot of farmers generally, as well as every other section of the people.

There is a feeling here and outside that it is one Minister who is responsible for this and another Minister who is responsible for that. We are all collectively responsible here on this side of the House for any decision made here at any time by any Minister. We all take full responsibility for any decision made. That is our business as a Party. I say at this stage that I have through my lifetime intervened in many disputes, some of them successfully and some of them not so successfully.

I believe in this country. I believe in co-operation with every section of our people, irrespective of class or creed, and I cannot understand the attitude adopted by some of the NFA men towards the Government, towards our Party, towards the Minister for Agriculture and towards the Minister for Justice. We are all very sorry to see any dispute at all. May I put this to the intelligent farmers of Ireland: "Are we going to have a democratic Government at all? Do we want an ordinary democratic Government to exist in this country? Do we want chaotic conditions in which any group can say to themselves that they have a better right or a better way of doing those things than the Government have?" Everybody has a democratic right to give his point of view, whether he be a trade unionist, a farmer, a professional man, a businessman, no matter what his walk of life, but there is such a thing as the democratic right to make your point and try to achieve something.

I remember many years ago I was associated with a number of meetings when the NFA started in my constituency. I was very proud to see them and I was delighted to see them taking an interest in the community. I was anxious that they should co-operate and that this co-operation amongst the farming community should be encouraged. Having said all those things, I am appealing to the leaders of the NFA to realise that if positions were changed and if the leader of the NFA were Taoiseach here and the present Taoiseach leader of the NFA, he would have to take the same stand as our Government are taking here now. If you want a democracy to exist, it can only exist one way, that is, by keeping a balance between every section of the people, keeping law and order and not interfering with the natural rights of people to make their protest, but when this protest goes too far, and they have not succeeded in achieving anything, they blame the Government for everything.

We in this country have to consider one thing. If there is to be government of the people for the people and by the people, we will have to back ordinary democratic rule in this nation. The day we fail to uphold the dignity of this Parliament and the day anybody, whether my brother or any of my nearest and dearest friends, challenges that right of the people to rule in an orderly way and to make their protest in an orderly way then that day they injure not only themselves but posterity.

I appeal to the NFA now not to be making statements and I appeal to all sides not to be making abusive statements, throwing stones, because that is a negative approach. Such a negative approach is not progress. I say here and now that we on this side of the House have tried to do our best for the farming community. We have bent backwards to try to give greater help to the farming community and especially the small farmers living on uneconomic holdings. That is what any good Government does. There is no Minister for Agriculture, no Minister of State and no Deputy, no matter which side of the House he is on, who will not try to do his best to improve the lot of the people he is representing. It does not make any difference whether they vote for him or not. They are all Irish people. That is the work of every public representative who is worth his salt.

We have a situation here in which those people are saying: "Anything you can do I can do better". That is a negative approach to a national problem that will get us nowhere. As I have already stated, we have to consider the main issue, that is, that the day any body in this country, no matter from what section of the community, say they do not believe in government of the people, for the people by the people, that they are a law unto themselves and that they have a right to do things nobody else has a right to do and that they have the right to break the law, is the day democracy fails. I have no right to break the law. I parked my car yesterday and it cost me £1. It was right that I should pay that £1 because I should not have parked my car where I did. I went down to the town planning office and was in a hurry when I parked my car so I took a chance. I had great pleasure in paying that fine.

That is a hypocritical statement. The Deputy had no pleasure in paying it.

I agree: I had no pleasure in doing it, but I had to pay the fine because I broke the law. That is a statement of fact. Now, we are to have our women of Ireland marching again. We will have our farmers marching again. What is it all for? Where will it bring our country? Where will it bring any of us, no matter who is in power? Opposition Deputies may make a bit of hay at the moment. They may make a lot of hay over this matter but the day might come when they might be on this side of the House and up against some other problem but they will act no differently from the way we have acted.

Everything possible was done behind the scenes with regard to this matter. Everything possible will be done providing there is a little spirit of goodwill, just a semblance of goodwill, on the part of the NFA. If they show that semblance of goodwill, show that they are anxious even now to say "Let bygones be bygones; we will turn over a new leaf; this is our country and we will work for whatever Government are in power." It will be a great help towards resolving this unhappy dispute. I appreciate that a number of the leaders of the NFA may differ from me or my Party politically. It is their democratic right to do so; but nobody has a right to break the law. I understand the democratic right of every citizen; but I have no right to break the law, nor has anybody else.

I appealed to our friends in the Opposition when they had a number of questions down dealing with this matter. Naturally, I do not know what I would have done if I were in Opposition, but I do not think I would have gone as far as some people went. Their attitude might have been very good as a matter of political expediency but I can assure them that it will not help. I am not here to say a bad word against any person, good, bad or indifferent. I am appealing to the NFA to have common sense and I can assure them that from this side of the House, and on behalf of the Minister, they will be met halfway and the matter will be finished.

There is room for discussion on the Committee set up by the Minister for Agriculture and I would like to see people taking their seats there. All this controversy will do the country no good. Trying to encourage people to hate the Government in power is serving no useful purpose at all. No Government here have money other than that given them by the people of Ireland, the taxpayer. I do not like to see hatred engendered by asking people to march against the Government and against the Minister for Agriculture of the time.

I went through the Civil War period and I know the bitterness engendered then. I saw it when I came into this House when I was elected 23 years ago today. We had this bitterness thrown across the floor of this House. I am glad to see that that element of ill-will has gone and that we can meet as friends, despite our political differences, and discuss things in a normal, dignified manner. People saying that they have cures for all our present ills are only encouraging hatred. No Government in power—Fine Gael, Labour or Fianna Fáil—can surrender their right to conduct the business of the country. If they did, they would not be worthy to be called a Government at all.

That is what we are up against. I do not want to stress the matter further or to say hard words except again to ask the men and women of Ireland, especially people of goodwill who are attached to the NFA, to please call a truce. I ask them to sit around a table and discuss the thing in an orderly, dignified and courteous way. No Government have money except that which they collect through taxation, and taxation is the only way to provide money to help the farming community.

I am a member of old farming stock who reared and educated their children and I am anxious to see the farming community better off. Being a member of a Party who are concerned with the welfare of every section of the community, I want to see the people doing well.

We have a problem in Ireland in relation to small uneconomic farms. I do not know what in the name of the Lord we will do about them. The small farmers are neither farmers nor labourers. Some of them have to go to work in America and England and in the towns at other types of work. Some of them have 20-acre farms, most of it snipe grass. They are expected to get a return from them and to educate their families. It is only now when I look back at what my father and the people in the neighbourhood did that I realise how wonderful they were in managing to rear and educate families on these small farms. Sometimes they worked 15 or 16 or even 20 hours a day if there was anything to be got from their labours.

It is no use thinking that any Government can overnight do something for the small farmers. We are trying to help them. Directly and indirectly, one quarter of the revenue of the nation is spent on farm assistance of one kind or another, such as subsidies, derating of land, and so on. I shall not go into details. These have already been referred to by the Minister for Finance and by various Deputies.

There is the question of the co-operative movement. Some of the farmers in my constituency buy thousands of pounds worth of machinery and that same machinery could be used by six farmers and six market gardeners as well as by one man. The overheads of some of these people are exorbitant, but there is this question of being as good as the Joneses down the street. It might be possible to work out a successful co-operative system, even though we are not the best people in the world to engage in such a system. We want to be independent. It is the natural feeling of farmers to be independent of one another.

When I was a delegate to the Council of Europe, I found the co-operative system in other countries very successful. However, we are gradually developing. We have a co-operative society in North Dublin. It is suffering from growing-pains, but I have no doubt it will be successful. In so far as the small farmers are concerned, it is necessary to have some system of co-operation. We have so many small farms in Ireland that some of them cannot be classed as farms at all. Some of them consist of nine or ten, or up to 30 acres and a lot of it snipe grass which would hardly feed even a snipe.

This is a very big problem. While the Land Commission have succeeded over the years in re-settling a number of families, this Government, or any future Government, will have a long way to go before we can do something worthwhile for the small farmer. It will take money and much experience to get five or six or ten farmers to co-operate. You would require a manager in each townland—a man who would be a kind of psychologist—to bring the people together to help one another. This system without Government aid could not succeed.

The number of farmers making their living from the land and solely depending on it is small. It is all right in Deputy Clinton's area, and in mine, where market gardening is carried on to a considerable extent. But even they have difficulties because their overheads are high and they have bad and good seasons.

That is what this Government are up against, what future Governments will be up against and what past Governments have been up against. The Department of Agriculture is there, with trained personnel, people who have served their time, have had college training, and especially the technical experts. These personnel have been told how things can be done—all this for the purpose of trying to do something worthwhile for our community, to help to improve their conditions in every way possible. Then there are the grants given over the years for better homes for the farmers, to ensure that they have sewerage and water in their homes, and the other modern amenities available to the urban population. Provided, of course, our balance of payments will go right during the next few years, there would seem to be more likelihood of prosperity than we have had in the past few years. We hope that trend of prosperity will continue in the future, for every section of our people. In that way, I am sure we will be able to do a great deal more.

With regard to markets, the Department of Agriculture and various Ministers for Agriculture have done their best to try to secure better outlets.

They have gone to various countries. We had the experience last year of what the EEC Community were responsible for doing to us, if I might put it that way. The Six Countries within the Common Market Area placed a tariff last year, and the year before, on the import of beef into those countries. That was a very hard blow to us and we were tied then to one market. Deputy Mrs. Hogan O'Higgins spoke of the large lamb trade with France; that was handled in a haphazard way also. We are up against this position. It was the first thing which contributed to putting the inter-Party Government away back in 1956-57 in dire straits. At that time the Argentine were sending more cattle here and they were able to take more cattle than we would sell on the Dublin market in one day; they were selling cattle at cheaper prices than ours. The result was that the bottom fell out of our cattle trade during the year 1956-57; we had a very bad recession which took us three or four years to overcome.

We have got to think how we are to avoid all these recessions, how we can help ourselves and our country, and I do appeal to our Opposition Members in speaking here to try to apply, as far as possible, national wisdom, if you like, and to say to themselves: "We know what happened to us when we were in office and we know what is liable to happen; what can we do to avoid these problems?" That is the best approach to things. I know we have had two or three very uncertain years in agriculture. I know certain people bought dear cattle and then had to sell them at a much cheaper rate. However prices are now increasing again.

Our position as far as Europe was concerned was that we had a chance of selling thousands of cattle on the European market. Even in the year before last, the cattle population, inside the Common Market countries, increased by about eight per cent. Therefore, we have this problem in Europe which must be dealt with. We have also the problem of the Argentine increasing their production of cattle, trying to compete against and undersell us on the British market, no matter what agreements we make. Naturally, the Agreement made was the best that could have been achieved at that time. We all thought it would bring us more benefits and it would, but for the fact that the six Common Market countries stated they would not take any cattle from outside their countries, unless they paid a very high levy.

I heard several British Members of Parliament getting up and condemning the Trade Agreement as crippling the English farmer. I said: "Why not come to the point and tell us what was responsible?" They brought in dead meat from the Argentine and the result was that the English farmer was up against this, too. Therefore, this is the problem—our market had been narrowed down. If we can, through ordinary diplomatic representation, get more and more markets for our agricultural produce, then, and then only, will we succeed in doing anything worthwhile.

It would be our salvation to get into the Common Market. Some people may not agree with me, but we are gaining nothing by being out on a limb and apparently from statements made at the Rome meeting, we do not seem any nearer to getting in. This is the problem we are up against and it would not make any difference if my colleague, Deputy Clinton, were Minister for Agriculture; he could not change the position overnight any more than can the present Minister. This cannot be done by abuse, by diplomacy or anything else overnight; it is a very serious problem. Why have we a Department of Agriculture with experts there to advise Ministers, to help them in every way possible? Because we have confidence in their training and believe they will endeavour to do their best. Why do we send them abroad? Why have we our diplomatic missions abroad—to try to help us to sell our agricultural produce in other countries.

But these problems exist and this idea of saying: "Anything you can do, I can do better", and talking about statements made over the years, when we see the problems which present themselves to every Government, every Minister, is getting us nowhere. My dear friends, the Minister has advisers; the Minister for Agriculture in 1956-57 had advisers; they were worth nothing to him, because the problem existed and we had no means of getting out of it. That was when we had a very bad recession here.

That was not what you people said in 1956-57; the Deputy should be cautious.

The Deputy should not draw me out too much; I am always able to reply. I am in a very saintly mood this evening and I do not want to start on any personalities. I am merely stating a fact about a recession.

It is about the first time we have seen that side of the Deputy.

One would swear the Deputy was speaking from the pulpit; he even said a few moments ago "my dear friends".

I am merely reviewing the whole scene as I see it.

I shall not delay the House any longer, because I have spoken longer than I intended. I rose merely to appeal to all our friends here, on all sides of the House, to use any influence they have with the NFA. I appeal to the NFA to call a truce, not to continue throwing stones, because that is a negative approach which will achieve nothing because our country is too small. I can assure the farmers of Ireland that every one of them would be better off if they sat around a table and discussed things. It is the only way in which they can better themselves. Even after wars when millions of people are killed and when there is destruction, death and disease, it all resolves itself into getting around a table and saying "We have done all the destruction we can do to our own countries and our own people". I say to the members of the NFA: "For God's sake co-operate as much as you can. We will co-operate with you if you give us an opportunity."

My first duty is a very pleasant one. It is to congratulate Deputy P.J. Burke on the 23rd anniversary of his election to this House. I hope that he will be with us for a number of years to come because he is a likeable chap.

The very fact that the Minister is not present and that there are so few Deputies present indicates clearly that there is nothing worthwhile in this document.

The Deputy is well aware that the Minister cannot be here all the time.

This is a rehash of what we have had before. We have had five or six agricultural debates within the past two years and this is a rehash of what was contained in previous ministerial announcements. There is nothing to encourage agriculturalists, nothing to indicate that they are going to have improvements in their conditions. There is a bit of packing here and a bit of packing there but there is nothing spectacular about this document, with the exception, of course, of the statement, which is probably an understatement, that the agricultural community lost £6 million last year. That had to be admitted.

The Deputy is well aware that the agricultural community gained more in cash values in 1966 than in 1965 but he must get over the fact that the difference in cattle stock prices——

Let me quote from the bible.

I quote from the Minister's statement:

With the upward trend in farming expenses continuing, the net result was that total family farm income fell by about £6 million or by about 4½ per cent.


That is the statement. You do not expect me to read the 28 pages.

Read two more lines and find where it says that, in fact, cash income to farmers was increased in 1966 as against 1965. That is typical of the Deputy's argument.

That is a statement: there is no other interpretation. In fact, here on the seat beside me is the interpretation of it by one of our national newspapers:

"Family farm incomes fell by £6,000,000"

Will the Deputy give the reference?

TheIrish Independent, Wednesday, May 31st, 1967.

A very fair paper.

That is a statement of fact.

Like the Deputy's statement of fact which was taken out of context.

It is a statement of fact. The concluding part of the statement which was referred to by Deputy Mrs. Hogan O'Higgins a while ago is devoted entirely to abusing people who criticise the Government. I do not agree entirely that people should be so abusive of those who criticise them, as organisations from time to time have critical remarks to make. I do not think the present position warrants three or four pages of this document being given over to using the big stick and to terms which, to my mind, are not conducive to improving relations between agricultural interests and the Government. Whether or not the Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary or the Government are able to see some gain in having that strained relationship in existence, I am not too sure, but I want to say here on behalf of the Labour Party that it is our wish and our endeavour that good relations should be restored between all farming organisations, the Government and all other interests because, irrespective of what position you hold in this country, agricultural development and progress have a bearing on it because we are mainly an agricultural country and agricultural exports are chiefly responsible for balancing our economy.

It is a very difficult job to start off again over all those 28 pages. We have discussed this again and again. We were expecting, when it came to the main Estimate, that something new, something revolutionary, something that would be of immense benefit and would show the Government's foresight in drawing up and formulating agricultural policy, would be made available to us. This, of course, has not happened. Consequently, there is little likelihood that our main industry will improve in the current year. The Parliamentary Secretary can calculate for himself what a drop of £6 million means to the agricultural section of our community. I understand that the number of farmers is supposed to be in or around 210,000. That would mean that farmers, on average, have suffered a loss of £28 or £29 in their income at a time when other sections have got marked increases in their income without putting the same amount of effort into their work as the agricultural community must put into it to make a livelihood.

I do not know whether Deputy Burke gave us some Government secret a while ago. He mentioned that not only had the Government collective responsibility but that the Party from which the Government are composed were joined in that responsibility, that the Fianna Fáil Party had collective responsibility for agricultural policy and other policies formulated by them and brought before the House for legislation. As one who has been interested in the development of small-holdings, it was interesting for me to hear Deputy Burke say that he did not know in the name of God what could happen to small farmers. "Sure, there is nothing could be done about them." he said. "Most of them have land that is only fit to feed a snipe." Possibly that is what the Government feel.

Deputy Murphy is generalising on what Deputy Burke said about a particular locality. Deputy Burke spoke of people in a particular locality.

I am afraid that is what the Government have in mind. I am afraid they have no hope for the small farmers. They are sitting back and allowing the number of such smallholders to decline steadily. They are allowing many of them to travel to Birmingham, London and so on. If we are to take it that Deputy Burke's statement is factual—and from the preamble of it, I think it could be taken as such—the Government have no belief in the future development of agriculture so far as providing a reasonable measure of income for our small farmers is concerned. We are told that there are 84,000 such farmers in the country, farmers with less than 30 acres of land, in most cases with an adjusted acreage much less than that. The Minister has held out little or no hope for that section of the community.

We hear a lot from Ministers, from different public bodies and from different public people, about the plight of the small farmers. I agree with the statement made by Deputy Burke that it is a very big problem to resolve, and that it is something that cannot be resolved overnight, but we are not asking the Government to resolve it overnight. We were told by them again and again, year in and year out, that they had the solution to the problem of the small farmers, but unfortunately that solution has not yet come to hand.

I welcome the introduction of the pilot areas but I believe they were introduced mainly with a political motive in order to indicate to the public at large that they were doing something for the smallholders. We in this Party have put very definite proposals before the House as to how we think an improvement could be effected so far as the smallholders are concerned. We do not agree with the Government's policy that the way to solve that question is by removing as many of them as possible and dividing the holdings between the remainder. Possibly the Government hope that the problem will be solved in the distant future and that by force of economic circumstances many smallholders will be forced to emigrate or to go to the towns and cities for industrial employment, that force of circumstances will make them leave their holdings and either sell or abandon them to the Land Commission.

We in this Party have in mind that there can be a development in many agricultural sidelines which would be beneficial to the smallholders and would help to uplift their incomes. Apart from the dairying side of the industry, we tried to draw attention to the desirability of extending help to the smallholders towards the development of agricultural sidelines. First, there is the development of the pig industry. I have repeated my views here year in and year out over the past 16 years about the advisability of determining agricultural policy on a regional basis rather than on a general basis, which was the position up to a few years ago and, generally speaking, is still the position.

I have maintained down through the years that there is a great variation in farming conditions, that farming conditions in the western counties and in parts of my own constituency of South West Cork are far different from the conditions of farmers living in the constituency from which the Parliamentary Secretary is elected, and that we should have a different approach to agricultural policy in accordance with the difference in the type of land, its productivity potential, and many other aspects as well. I have always had a strong feeling about the development of the pig industry and trying to encourage smallholders to keep three, four or five sows apiece, and trying to get them to fatten, say, an average of 40 or 50 pigs altogether with a view to building up their income.

We expected that the Government would encourage that type of development, but when the pig population was declining, instead of encouraging the smallholders to build up their pig numbers, Government policy was to erect big fattening stations, and talk in terms of having stations with 1,000 sows and fattening stations for 4,000 or 5,000 pigs. Was it not Fianna Fáil's idea some five or six years ago that instead of thinking in terms of getting the smallholders to go into pig production and keep more pigs, the way to solve this problem was to have mass production under the management of central creameries or under the management of big combines? In order to encourage that industry and strike the small men they increased the grants for the erection of large piggeries. Surely that policy was not intended to help the smallholders?

One point we made in furtherance of our endeavour to help the small farmers was that there should be encouragement from the State, from the agricultural committees and from all agricultural interests, to try to get our smallholders on uneconomic land with a low yield capacity to be more interested in pig production. Pig production is a good sideline but unfortunately of late, with the declining numbers and the consequent increase in processing costs at the factories, due to the reduced intake of pigs, instead of increasing their pig herds people must be reducing them, as we now find from this statement that the number of pigs sold last year fell by 150,000.

When we were speaking about agriculture on a Supplementary Estimate a few months ago I put forward another view, or I repeated a view put forward by us that pigs which are produced in a particular area, particularly an uneconomic area, should be processed in that area. Why should they be carted out from West Cork to Cork city to be processed there? Why not help to provide additional employment in the uneconomic districts where the pigs are produced by having them processed at home? Again and again we have made representations to the State bodies with a view to establishing a factory in South-West Cork. We made a case in support of that claim to the effect that 11 per cent of the country's total pig population is produced on West Cork farms. That represents one-ninth. Still, we have no processing plant there.

Anyone is capable of examining the economics of that position. We have to cart our pigs 100 miles from some farms, with consequential high transport costs. Another thing to the detriment of the industry in West Cork is that unless the pigs reach the factory in Cork city at 12 o'clock in the day, they are not slaughtered until the following day, with possible loss of weight of up to a quarter stone.

TDs have to be carted 250 miles.

They might like to get their weight down by a quarter of a stone.

Particularly in an area where the industry is capable of being developed, as it is in West Cork, efforts to do so should carry with them the processing of the pigs within the districts where they are produced. It would mean additional employment for the families who produce the pigs, which are now being carried to the larger towns and cities for processing. Our aim in a debate on agricultural policy is to try to serve rural Ireland, the population of which is steadily declining, according to census statistics just issued. It should be the Government's aim and the aim of any organisation interested in preserving rural Ireland to try to find ways and means of keeping the population in the rural areas. With particular reference to the part of the country which I have the privilege of representing, I suggest that one helpful way to preserve the rural population would be to develop the pig industry and provide there a processing plant.

It is not any consolation to those of us interested in the development of that area to read the statement issued by the Department of Agriculture that the pig population decreased by some 200,000 between January, 1966, and January, 1967. In 1967, the pig population was 920,600 having fallen from 1,101,400 in 1966. During that period there was a reduction of almost 200,000 pigs, a percentage reduction of in or around 20 per cent. The Government allowed that to happen, knowing that not only is it detrimental to the people who produce the pigs but also to those who process them.

We were told by the management of one of the factories which closed down that the main reason for the closure was that the intake of pigs fell far below expectations and that as a result, processing costs increased sharply. This decline in the number of pigs, first of all, hits pig owners because the numbers held by them are not as great; secondly, it hits the owners' income; thirdly, it is hitting the people on the industrial side, the processors; and fourthly, it hits the people who have to buy bacon in that they have to pay higher prices when processing costs increase sharply. From whatever angle one looks at it, one must conclude that the Government's management or direction of the pig industry has not been favourable and I believe the Minister and the Government should be indicted for their mismanagement of this major industry which in years gone by was so helpful in supplementing the incomes of many of our smallholders and cottiers.

If the Minister were here, I should have something more to say about a bacon industry for West Cork. It does not take from our case that Donnellys of Dublin, despite State grants, had to close down or be taken over by some other company. That does not take from our case for a factory in the area where the raw material is produced. I cannot see why, with a production of 11 per cent of the pig population in the country, we in West Cork have to send our pigs to Cork city and to Limerick for processing, particularly realising the fact that there is a big outlet of our people to foreign countries seeking employment because of lack of employment at home. A bacon processing factory is one industry to which we have a definite claim and right and if I did not make that claim here during the debate on this Estimate, I would not be doing my duty to the people who sent me to this Parliament.

I do not think it is of much use to mention the poultry industry. It was a very important one in many parts of the country, giving considerable self-employment at remunerative rates to our womenfolk. I know that industry well: I was engaged in it for a long time. It has gone completely by the board. There is no future for it. If one peruses the document issued by the Department of Agriculture to which I referred earlier, one learns that the quantity of eggs exported last year was negligible and that only 3,000 turkeys were exported. Both of these were important exports and provided considerable revenue when it was most needed, in the month of December each year. They have now gone. The Government possibly cannot do much about them because export markets are not available and it is difficult to get definite statements from the Government on the matter. When I mentioned the question previously in the House, there was a denial by the Minister, who said the poultry industry was very profitable. I shall not go into it now, except to say that everybody knows that with the exception of a very small number who are engaged in the broiler industry, there is no profit in poultry for anybody. There is profit in the broiler business because the numbers are small. If they were increased, that line would go too.

Cattle prices are low. Unfortunately that is the position even this day. People are naturally disgruntled and dissatisfied. I am sure it is the wish of the Government that prices would be much higher. The situation brings home to us that high prices here are determined by prices on the export market. A number of members of the Minister's Party, including my very close friend, Deputy Corry, in the past endeavoured to mislead the people by saying, when agricultural prices were good, that the Government should be thanked, that were it not for Fianna Fáil being in power, cattle prices would not be as good. If that were so, the other argument can be used today, that when prices are bad, the Government should be blamed. However, I will not follow that line. Unfortunately, some of our farmers were mislead by it in the past, but I doubt if they will be in the future.

You would not stoop that low.

There is no use going into this Trade Agreement, no use being critical of the lack of foresight of the Government, no use condemning with hindsight statements made by Government Ministers 18 months ago about the rosy prospects for the agricultural community, once this Trade Agreement was ratified the following July. I do not propose taking up the time of the House going into that again. Everybody knows that this Government showed little foresight, that they could not see even two months ahead. The former Minister for Agriculture spoke here as if there were no possibility of any fluctuations in world market prices as far as cattle were concerned. His statements were based on the assumption that there was no likelihood of a decline in prices on the British market and that the then base would continue indefinitely. That showed great lack of foresight in formulating policy. Unfortunately, that lack of foresight has hindered agricultural production in many other respects also. I am hoping that an improvement in cattle prices will take place, and in the not too distant future. We note that, even with the declining value of money, our cattle export prices were reduced in 1966 as against 1965. Therefore, instead of earning more money through cattle exports, the results indicate the opposite, that our returns from such exports are declining.

All attention is now focussed on the EEC. The impression is given to everybody, once we get into the EEC, it will be something like getting into Heaven. We can sit back and rest; all the benefits will flow this way and there will be no trouble about what will happen in other ways. That is a completely false impression. I am sick and tired listening to all the people who think they know all about EEC and EFTA lecturing us one way or the other. We had a lecture today from Deputy Burke about our preparations for the EEC. What is happening with the EEC today? It does not make very pleasant reading in this document; neither did it make very pleasant reading 12 months ago. Deputy Burke spoke about our diplomatic missions abroad. What are they doing to help us in our balance of payments and make countries we buy from buy an equal amount of goods from us?

I was examining the position when Deputy Burke was orating about the advantages of the EEC. In 1966 we exported £26.7 million worth of goods to the EEC countries, according to Appendix VI of this document. In return, we imported £50.2 million worth of goods. How does that happen if this EEC are so wealthy? The Taoiseach intends travelling around these countries to get us in. How is it we cannot strike a better bargain? What is wrong with our missions abroad? What is wrong with all the people, the Government agencies, we send out that we cannot strike a better bargain for our country? In that year this adverse trade balance of £23.5 million is a significant sum for this relatively small country. How is it we cannot do better? If we buy £1 million worth of goods from any EEC country, why can we not get them to buy £1 million worth of goods from us? Is it that we have not £1 million worth of goods to sell them and that we cannot fulfil their demands?

That picture is no different from the 1965 picture. Then we exported £28.1 million worth and bought £56.8 million. Let us hope that if we get into the EEC, we will fare better than we have been faring with the EEC over the years. We have come out badly. This is possibly more relevant to a discussion on the Taoiseach's Estimate, but our missions abroad, about which Deputy Burke was boasting a while ago, have shown very poor results.

Unfortunately, we are not doing much better with EFTA. The only country we seem to be getting on well with is the one country so many of us dislike, or let on to dislike, Britain. That is the only country with which our trade balance is reasonably even. We have an unfavourable balance with the other EFTA countries. In 1966, we bought £0.5 million from Austria and exported £0.2 million. The position with Denmark was worse. We sold them £0.5 million and bought £3.2 million. We sold £0.4 million worth to Norway and bought £1.5 million. To Portugal, we sold £0.2 million and bought £0.7 million; Sweden, £0.9 million sold and £5.1 million bought. As I said, the only country with which we had a favourable balance was Britain. Unfortunately, the balance was not as favourable as it should have been at £164 million sold and £193.2 million bought.

I do not know how we are able to stand that pace. We are buying far more from these outside countries, both EEC and EFTA, with the exception of Britain, than we are selling to them. As we are mainly dependent on agricultural exports and as we need some of their goods, is it not possible for anybody associated with the Department of Agriculture to strike a better bargain for our exports to those countries? Is it possible to get them to buy more at reasonable prices, seeing that we are such good customers of theirs? All the balance is in their favour. Surely we should be able to do better? Supposing we increased the number of pigs from 920,000 to 3,000,000 or 4,000,000, would we be able to sell bacon to any of the countries I have mentioned? Would there be any market for our surplus bacon? Could bacon be exchanged for goods we require? Our trade balance with the EEC countries as with many other countries is most unfavourable. It is the responsibility of the Minister for Agriculture and the Government to address themselves to that question with a view to rectifying it.

It is all very well to attempt to play down the present position by saying that our entry to the EEC is just around the corner and that in the not too distant future we will be a member and then everything in the garden will be rosy. Unfortunately for farmers, it is not rosy at the present time. A few hours ago when I was on my way to the Dáil, I passed Portlaoise Jail and saw about 15 farmers walking up and down carrying placards on their shoulders. I had a good look at these men and they seemed to be a respectable type who would not engage in activities injurious to the State. They must feel that they have a definite grievance or they would not be there on the last day of May, the busy time of the year. They are not used to the type of activity in which they are at present engaged. It is a peculiar position indeed that there should be this unrest and uneasiness in the country. There is nothing that would bring that home to a person more than to see that type of thing happening on such a fine day as this. I do not want to go into that question. It was dealt with very capably by Deputy Burke for 20 minutes. He seemed to think that all the blame is on one side. My view would be different. I believe that the blame could be apportioned. At the same time, it is the Government's job and duty to take the initiative in trying to reconcile the differences and to reach an amicable arrangement.

I am inclined to agree with Deputy Mrs. Hogan O'Higgins that the main fault of the National Agricultural Council—it sounds well enough but consider the personnel—is that it is composed to too great an extent of persons of one political belief. That seems to bring about the position that the farming community have little confidence or little faith in it. I am inclined to that viewpoint. I disagreed with the Minister when he established this body in reserving to himself the right of nominating six of the 14 members. I am not saying that any of the members was nominated in a way similar to the way in which nominations are made to other boards where persons are nominated for no other virtue than their political one. At the same time, this body is too one-sided to command the confidence of the farming community.

I do not like taking up too much time but I should like to say that a while ago I read the document about animal health and what the Minister is doing about it. A statement was made by the present Minister for Finance, Deputy Haughey, when he was Minister for Agriculture, that disease in animals cost us £25 million annually. Apart from the lip service given to animal health, the Department is not making any worthwhile contribution. I am a member of the Cork Animal Health Committee and also of the committee set up jointly by Cork and Kerry County Councils for the eradication of sheep scab, a disease which it is estimated is responsible for a loss of a seven figure sum annually. The joint committee of Cork and Kerry County Councils for the eradication of sheep scab, which has been established at some cost to public funds, finds that it is impossible to get a reply from the Department of Agriculture. They have sent up letters and recommendations by persons who know what they are talking about and who are trying to bring about the position whereby sheep scab eradication could be vigorously pursued so that it would be completely eradicated after a two-year intensive drive. They have received no co-operation from the Department of Agriculture. Resolutions and recommendations from that committee to the Department have been mainly ignored or, if not ignored, have received a meaningless reply, which is an insult to any group of people. With all the talk about animal health, it is an extraordinary situation that a committee established for the main purpose of carrying out an intensive drive against sheep scab should be treated contemptuously.

The position is not much better in regard to the Cork Animal Health Committee. The Department is represented on the authority by a few officers. They are quite capable, indeed. More notice should be taken of recommendations submitted by such advisory committees. There is no justification for some civil servant in the Department throwing such a recommendation aside or telling a typist to send these fellows a few lines of acknowledgment and then forgetting all about it. That is what has happened in the case of recommendations made by the Cork committees after careful, diligent and close consideration. That is something about which whoever is responsible in the Department should be ashamed. When recommendations from local bodies, including committees of agriculture, are submitted, if the departmental experts consider them not to be sound or feasible, it should not be too much to expect the Department to write a letter indicating the reasons for their objections.

I mentioned at the outset that I would not go into detail about the small western farms. There is this question of the establishment of pilot areas and county development teams. I happen to be a member of the county development team in West Cork. I am sorry to say that we have not made much progress in the matter of furthering the interests of farmers. I spoke here quite recently about the help that probably will be given by the Land Commission to improve farming conditions. I do not rate it too highly. I believe that pessimistic outlook is justifiable unless the present indications change very greatly.

Farmers are entitled to social justice, to a fair wage, the same as any other section of the community. The present indications are that many of them engaged in farming are not getting that wage or that income. I know it is very difficult to create that situation. It is difficult to help people who have families to earn a reasonable livelihood from eight or nine cows, as things are at present. Again and again, we have indicated the advisability of formulating schemes that would have to supplement that income such as pig rearing and horticulture. Some processing factories have been established. There is one of them down in my own town of Skibbereen, and that is an advantage to the farmers there. However, the number of such projects must be limited. In another part of the area, this West Cork Development Team helped to establish flower-growing—I think the Parliamentary Secretary was down there at some stage—and that is helping about 30 farmers to increase their income, and giving employment. But as regards endeavouring to give smallholders a fair wage, you must have many sidelines. They will not get it directly from the keeping of cows and from dairy produce. The position of many of our small farmers is not too bright.

I have not, of course, mentioned the farm worker because in my part of the country there is no such person as a farm worker now. I understand they are not completely gone. The farm worker, let him be a wage earner or a self-employed farmer, must be, in the present age, a highly skilled man, and he is not getting a return in proportion to the amount of work he is putting into it.

There should be some change from the presentation we have here year after year, a rephrasing of what we have been told in the previous Estimate speech. I am hoping that more interest will be displayed in the recommendations of the bodies I mentioned a while ago, the committees of agriculture elected by the votes of the people to represent the people. I hope more heed will be given to their recommendations than has been given up to the present. I am not against other nationally elected bodies; all these vocational organisations must join together and make recommendations just as well. They are entitled to do that.

I am sorry to have been rather pessimistic about this document, but there was no other course open to me, having regard to the fact that, as I said at the outset of my statement, there is nothing spectacular in this Estimate, no indication of any worthwhile advancement for the farming community. There is little in the Estimate that would indicate that the position obtaining last year of a reduction of £6 million in farm income will be greatly improved during the current year. Unfortunately, present agricultural prices seem to show that the improvement is not likely to take place. I hope my forecast in that respect is wrong and that prices will improve. I hope also that the Minister and the Government will try to be reconciled with any groups of people in agricultural development with whom they are not reconciled at the moment, that we shall have all the people who are interested in this industry, whether on the Government side or the Opposition side or in local groups or organisations, working in a great co-operative movement to help our farmers, big and small alike.

When one rises here to speak on the Estimate for Agriculture, knowing there has been a reduction of £6 million or 4½ per cent in the net income of the Irish farmer, while at the same time we have had a year in which there has been an increase in consumer spending in all other sections of the community and an increase in costs, one realises the plight of the farmers, and that there is a reason for the farmers being dissatisfied. It might well be said that every Opposition speaker who rises in Dáil Éireann to speak on the Estimate for Agriculture would possibly start speaking in the same vein, but not perhaps for such valid reasons as are before us now.

It is clear that the farmer has had a reduction in his standard of living at a time when the standard of living of everybody in Europe is either slowly or very quickly improving. Therefore the position of the boy or girl, the farmer's son or daughter who is in agriculture, is that he or she is unable to go to that dance, unable to live like his or her counterpart in the town, and is therefore inclined to emigrate and leave farming behind. The Minister tells us there will be a reduction in the numbers in agriculture, but not for the specific reason which I outline, namely, that the standard of living has dropped in the year in which one would have expected it to rise to some degree at least, and when the standard has increased in all other sections of the communities of all the other countries in Europe.

The main section of our agricultural industry is the production and marketing of cattle, and one of the attempts of the Government to do something about this was the introduction of the heifer grant scheme. This was meant to increase our cattle herds, and it has done so temporarily. I can refer to the Minister's speech and say that he has indicated that there is a slowing down. The very figures the Minister produces with his Estimate indicate there is this slowing down, and that there was merely a temporary improvement.

Any attempt to increase our cattle numbers on the land should have been preceded by and paralleled with a campaign for the conservation of our summer grass and a campaign for the increase in the summer grass growing season, so that, first of all we would have a shorter winter in which our cattle would have to be fed and housed within, and, secondly, we would have more with which to feed them when we had to put them in. This would have meant not the catastrophic situation which we had last back-end, to use a farming term, but one in which the people would have been able to do what the Minister now exhorts them to do, sell their cattle at the right time of the year.

Instead of that, Fianna Fáil as a political Party had to do something else for an obvious reason. The reason was that Fine Gael had proposed a calf subsidy and, parallel with it, the stepping-up of efforts to conserve the summer grass and put it to good use during the winter. Our plan was not the plan introduced by the Fianna Fáil Government; it was a subsidy on every heifer calf and, in case anyone worried as to whether heifers might be mated once and then disposed of, it was suggested that the subsidy could be phased over a two year period, thereby ensuring that the mother would be kept for at least two years. Had this been done, there would have been a permanent increase, but only, of course, if there had been parallel with it a strenuous effort to produce winter feed and winter housing. This was not done.

Fianna Fáil have, of course, to compete politically. They have always had to do that. They produced the present scheme. Now the Department has had to defend the scheme, but the defence has failed, in my opinion. At page 2 of the circular issued by the Department in relation to the scheme, it is stated that herds of over 20 animals took in only five per cent of the proportion of grantees. The grants for over 100 cattle —in number they were only 12— represented 0.5 per cent. I have made the point in the past, and I should like to make it again now, that there is no such thing as an average of averages. That is one of the first laws of mathematics and if there is a mathematician in the Department, he will know that. If one man gets a grant of £100 and ten men get grants of £10 each and an average is struck by dividing by 11, one gets a result of between ten and 20. But that, of course, is not a true picture. The truth is that someone jumped in and jumped out again, having increased the number of heifers for one year, and one year only.

The Minister said that the Department had been instructed to make a change in the administration of the scheme and to ensure that the accent in relation to payments would be on people who were staying in and those who were not staying in should be disqualified. I was able to inform the Minister's predecessor about the situation quite some months back. I knew cases of it. I told the Minister's predecessor what the position was. He denied it. The reference can be produced if it is required. All this goes to show that the scheme has, in fact, been of a temporary nature and has, in general, been a failure. As a result of this change, some unfortunate people, perfectlybona fide, have not been paid their grants.

I know a boy whose brother was in gaol until about a week ago; someone paid his fine. This boy got married. His father bought him a farm. Everyone with any experience knows that there is generally an overdraft or loan involved in this kind of business. This young man went into the scheme. The payment of the grants was delayed to such an extent that he had to sell some of the heifers. At the moment he is owed over £1,000. He is now going to drop the whole thing, forget about the grants and go in for something else. That is most unjust.

I raised another case with the Department last week in which a brother sold some cows, which were single suckling, to another brother. There was no subterfuge. There was a cheque dated 12 months ago, which was open for examination. Yet the Department decided there should be no payment. I am not advocating payment to those who jump in and jump out again but, as the scheme was phrased, there was no reason why a person could not avail, if he so wished, of the scheme for one year and then proceed to get out.

As I have said, this scheme was a temporary scheme produced as a defence against good Fine Gael policy. It was brought in in a hurried fashion and it has resulted in nothing but a very bad trade for cattle last back-end, a slackening off in cattle prices and a general sense of disappointment with the whole operation of the scheme.

With regard to factory beef prices, there has been grave dissatisfaction and the National Farmers Association have been advocating a marketing board. At the same time, we have beef factories owned largely by private individuals and private companies. Every indication is that prices for beef here in certain weeks were far worse than those obtaining in Britain. I know from my contacts with the trade that there are many kinds of beef. I know cattlemen here who send cattle to Aberdeen for slaughter and despatch to Smithfield as Scotch beef because that denoted a certain type of beef, a certain weight and a certain age. Comparison is extremely difficult because of the different types and comparisons, therefore, can be very inaccurate. One inducement would be the payment of the subsidy direct to the farmer. I believe in this. The farmer could then add the price he receives from the factory to his subsidy from the State and in that way arrive at the real price. The factory would, of course, pay less, but it would be quite simple for anybody to find out exactly how the land lies.

I do not know if an absolutely controlled beef marketing board is the best thing—I am quite frank about that—but I am absolutely certain that direct payment of the subsidy to the farmer is of the utmost importance. I adduce as an argument that it can be done the fact that, when there was a back-payment on wheat to be made some time ago, An Bord Gráin, with only eight or nine persons in the office, was in a position to pay whatever they owed to every farmer in a matter of six weeks and that, when a back payment was to be made on malting barley, a group of brewers' agents, with very small office staff, were enabled to make these payments in a matter of weeks. Where such a payment would be of a permanent nature, with the valleys and hills of high selling and low selling periods, a relatively small staff could pay to every farmer his subsidy on beef, if there was a subsidy due. This would have a great effect inasmuch as the farmer would not feel he had been done down in the price he received and it would make him believe that the industry was working for him as well as for itself. It is something of which we would really approve.

The pig industry is in a most parlous condition. We have a situation wherein one factory, the largest in the country, the recipient of a grant of £200,000 with capital expenditure stated at that time of a further £800,000 and a total expenditure of £1 million, found itself in the position that it could not carry on and that liquid resources were not available to it from the banking system, with the result that it had to decide, as a company, that it would wind itself up. Happily, and by what agency I know not, apart from this, a large co-operative society already engaged in the industry was in the position of effecting a take-over. That meant that the factory carried on. This was paralleled by a factory in Limerick closing and difficulties and rumours of difficulties in factories all over the country.

Our pig trade used to be one of our stable exports and one of the great things on which we prided ourselves. The constancy of supply, which makes a large industry possible, is not available under our present system. The pig cycle that was discovered about 15 years ago to exist, when people looked at statistics, is at its lowest ebb at the moment and is a feature that can clearly be seen by anybody who studies the relevant figures over a few decades. If this continues, we shall have more difficulties with factories. Some factories may take too much profit or may have to take it and may then show considerable losses at other periods. This is not of any value to us. Particularly in relation to better sales of our grade A bacon on the export markets, it is catastrophic. We have to look at this matter in a really positive way and do something about it.

There has been much talk about pig fattening stations and sows out with small farmers and the guarantee of a good and a stable price for bonhams. This, largely, has been talk. If this had been done over the past ten years, then surely there would not have been such a valley in the pig cycle as created such terrible consternation and pain in the industry in the past few months? We have to go forward with pig fattening stations. We have to see to it, and we have no choice, that there is a constant supply.

Now I come to the increase of 6/-, the price of feed and various other factors that seem to queer the pitch regularly and cause trouble. I believe that the right way to subsidise is to do it by reducing the price of feed. Instead of having an Exchequer subsidy on the export of pig meat, I suggest a subsidy on the production of barley. This has an obvious difficulty inasmuch as certain farmers may have geared themselves to keep their own barley and to feed it to their pigs. I do not think the brains of the Department of Agriculture would not be able to get over that obstacle: I think they certainly would surmount it.

I believe that the best way to subsidise the production of pigs is to produce a cheap feed. This I shall deal with a bit further on when talking about our grade pigs. However, in relation to the pig industry, I sincerely believe that we could do better by producing a subsidy on feed than by producing a subsidy on the export of meat. There is the argument of centralised buying and absolute control of that by one body or by the system at present in use, namely, the buying of pigs by bacon factories and by people who want them for pork and other things. I believe in the two systems as we have them at present. I do not like too much power in one hand. There are so many different ways of marketing a pig and so many different sorts of pigs that are suitable for so many different things that the best price for each individual animal can be got only when we have a multiplicity of avenues whereby the pig can be assimilated.

The agent of a factory might come to a man's yard and beat the grade A price spectacularly for a number of pigs. He knows they will not all make grade A but he has two pork shops in the town and that is where they will go. He does not introduce the punitive factor that would operate in the factory in relation to pigs that were not just quite grade A. That may be a terrible sin. We may feel like stern disciplinarians and come forward with the idea that if a pig is not grade A—even though we have use for it that does not demand grade A—we should punish the farmer by reducing his price. To have the two systems is the best—the man who can dispose of that pig in a different way and pay that price for it and at the same time to have the grade A price available at the factory gate to any man who wants to bring his pigs there—and I should be opposed to the centralised system.

If we let people away with pigs that are fatter than we want them to be, then we shall not produce our proper proportion of grade A pigs. That, again, is a system of education by punishment. If the leg or loin of pork needs a bit of fat on it to preserve its flavour, why not give the farmer his price for as much of the market as is available for a particular purpose? Similarly, the exports of pork from this country were extremely good and extremely profitable and, from being a small trade, had increased to quite a sizeable trade in the past few years. When the number of pigs coming forward was reduced, then the exports of pork were restricted. This particular avenue, again, was not available to the farmer, so that, in fact, one reason the farmers went out of pigs was that what they could get away with in the bacon factory, which was also a pork exporter, two years ago, they could not get away with in the past few months: all pork was for bacon and all bacon had to be grade A and, if it was not, then out came the cane and the man got £3 less for his pig. This is true.

We have to be a bit more flexible and realise that while the Pigs and Bacon Commission are great people, and so on, it is necessary that we give the best price to every farmer for every pig that is available to him. The sort of pioneer, punitive instinct that seems to be in every Celt should not lead us to penalise a farmer if there is an avenue whereby he can get a better price for his pig.

I want to talk now about the prices for wheat, oats and barley and the effect of certain decisions on the pig trade. There was a similar effect in other spheres, where grain was used as a feed but certainly on the pig trade the effect was disastrous. Many Members mentioned an increase of 10/- a barrel for wheat. This was made at a stage when there was a wet spring. There was no increase last year. It has had quite a spectacular effect on wheat and some people talk about a 100 per cent increase in wheat when the farmers will find time to think about this increase. I want to talk about the previous year when it was necessary. There was an increase in two commodities, namely, wheat and barley. The increase in barley was 5/- and the increase in wheat 3/-. I suggest it is our job, if we are managing the cereal market, which we are—the Government are managing it—to get for the farmer the maximum return available to him for cereals in any way we can. Remembering that cash markets are scarce for the farmer, if we can put the maximum amount of wheat into the grist at the highest practical price as far as the industrial worker is concerned and the community as a whole, it is our duty to do so. If we encourage, by the balance of prices, the production of more of one thing and less of another, where our main aim is deflection, that of giving the farmer the most money and producing the most goods, then we are wrong.

I suggest that the previous increase was a badly balanced increase. We produced an increase whereby the farmer was discouraged from growing more wheat and was encouraged to grow more barley. Even with the increase of 50 per cent in the quantity of wheat grown this year we have not reached optimum. Here is a market available to us whereby the industrial worker over the years, as prices and wages were fixed, has been prepared to pay for Irish wheat put into his bread and which was giving a good market to the farmer. We have not reached optimum on that but we will have too 25,000 tons on the 1st September next and it is costing £6 a ton more than the price at which its counterpart could be imported. I am not advocating the importation of cheap feed but I am suggesting that if we have a deficiency in our production of wheat on the one hand, there could be instead of the estimated 55 per cent last year of Irish wheat into the grist a further 50 per cent and we would not, in fact, have this 25,000 tons of barley at £6 a ton. We should have grown more wheat and slightly less barley. This was an error produced by the previous Government increase when farmers changed over, because farmers are extremely slow to change back.

It might be thought that I am romancing about 25,000 tons of barley at £6 per ton. One of the reasons our pigs have dropped in numbers over the last six to nine months—I have indicated other reasons—was because we had this large volume of barley. While this year we have only 38 per cent Irish wheat in our grist we could not import any cheap feed and we had to use all our own barley. The net result is that it is very much dearer than that of our competitors abroad. The result has also been, of course, a spectacular reduction in the number of pigs, a failure even to assimilate the amount of barley by this very heavy restriction of the farmer, 25,000 tons of barley too much, one bacon factory gone into liquidation and the whole trade in chaos. In operating our feeding policy and our grain policy we should try on the feeding end to produce the best value for the feeders at the same time remembering that we have got to provide the best prices for the growers. We should look at wheat and barley not as two things but as an entity, crops that can be grown largely in the same field, and if we balance this out we will do a reasonably good job.

In growing grain, we should always remember, even when the Minister for Industry and Commerce is discussing things with the flour millers, that if we could create a situation wherein it meant a little less money for a flour miller to use five per cent more foreign wheat and a little more for him to use five per cent more Irish wheat there would be an incentive to include in the grist the maximum amount. I am pretty close to that trade and in my view there have been occasions during the last 20 years when the maximum was not included, more for the lack of knowledge and the improper approach of the Government than for anything else. If you encourage people to do the right thing then you will have got somewhere and you will have exploited your market to the fullest. If you do not do that, you will find people in every walk of life, whether they are farmers, millers, bacon factory proprietors, or anybody else who is involved in the whole complex business, pulling against you, whereas if you can only get your line of thought and your policy right you will find these people pulling with you, not for any love of your bright blue eyes but because you have done the right thing and because at that stage they have the incentive to do the right thing for themselves.

A report was published by three banks on the conduct of agricultural industry in the European Economic Community and the salient point in this report was that the incentives offered were both the carrot and the stick and that industries involved in agriculture, in the processing of agricultural produce, on the one hand, and the farmers on the other, had to make use of the incentives because they could not afford not to do so. If they did not do so their competitors would put them out of business. This is an attitude of mind we have not developed here fully and we have vacillated between the stick without a carrot and the carrot without a stick. If we could get our minds right in the interests of everybody in this industry which is so important we could approach the thing in a proper way.

I observed in an article in theIrish Times of April 5th that the numbers of farmers affected by the pilot area scheme in the west of Ireland is 4,278 and that the total number of farmers about whom we are speaking when we talk about the west of Ireland is 150,000. I infuriated the Minister's predecessor—when I say that, I am sure I am warning the Minister and therefore he just smiles—when I compared the amount voted for the pilot scheme in its first year, £100,000, with the butt of a cigarette, taking it that 1d on cigarettes in taxation produced £1 million. I was rather astonished to find it produced, in fact, more than that but for the purpose of my analogy, it is sufficiently accurate. In the second year of the scheme, we had, I think, a figure of £200,000 which I compared with the butts of two cigarettes. One can imagine the poor individual coming up the road with a can of milk on the handlebars of his bicycle, sucking his butt. He could think that what he was getting in this great pilot scheme to bring him home into the land flowing with milk and honey was the taxation on the butt of the cigarette he was sucking and in the second year he had been advanced to the extremely extravagant stage when he commanded the taxation on the butts of two cigarettes.

This comparison is one to which I do not like to resort. I am usually horrified by the Budget speech of Deputy P.J. Burke when he tells us we are all voting against an increase for the old age pensioners, but I think it is particularly clear that the work of the pilot areas is not being proceeded with in any volume. Perhaps the fellow with the can of milk on the handlebars sucking the butt of a cigarette has other incomes. Perhaps he goes to the employment exchange and draws something there. Perhaps he does a bit of handiwork as a carpenter has an occasional job with the Board of Works or acts as gillie on a boat now and then and that his standard of living cannot be improved, that there is no hope that on his holding he could ever reach the goal we are told has been set for him. Perhaps that is so but there are so many shades and sides to that kind of individual problem that I would not venture to conjecture on it. One thing is certain, that is, that the operation of pilot schemes which are only pilot schemes shows people that without the application of very large sums of money, these will not increase the standard of living of people in the west of Ireland depending on smallholdings to any appreciable extent, and that there is nothing for them but what has been there for them for quite a long time, the emigrant ship.

I now come to the gravamen of the matter, which is investment. I welcome the NFA investment trust plan which has been launched. This is nothing new in NFA policy. In fact, I find that at page 144 of the commonly known "Green Book" issued in 1964, they indicate the sort of capital investment that would be necessary for their plan of that time. I use the figures merely to show the size of the problem. Between 1964 and 1970, they envisaged a figure of £309 million in capital investment in agriculture, if we were to stay abreast of events in Europe and provide for our people in agriculture the same level of rising standards of living as is available in other occupations. The capital investment they envisaged at that time by the Government was £102 million over the period and by the farmers £207 million. Even if the NFA were to quadruple their present subscriptions to NFA funds each year on the average, meaning that some of them perhaps would give nothing and that the larger farmers would give greatly increased subscriptions, and if co-operation expanded and perhaps quadrupled, there would still be a complete void and there would still be need for capital to process agricultural goods and to make the farmer efficient, for which there would be no provision.

The co-operation of industry in the processing of agricultural goods is, unfortunately, a rare thing in this country. There has been a view among farmers that "profit" is a dirty word and among certain farmers the view was that certain profits were excessive. At the same time, there was a view among businessmen that it was dangerous to touch agriculture, that you were up against all sorts of things, that co-operatives were against you and that you had to be against the co-operatives, that the Government would watch your profits and that you would be hounded on all sides. Yet, the main raw material of this country is agricultural produce, the basic thing which we can convert into exports that are not just an export—though there is much of it in it—of the work of our young people. This could be a gross export that would be very close to a net export because we have the raw materials and the work to be put into it also. Otherwise, we are just getting from abroad raw materials which are processed here and sent out as re-exports. These are gross exports into which we have put nothing but the labour of our people.

I suggest that the main line of policy should be the attraction of industrialists to invest in what I call agro-industry, in the processing of agricultural goods in every possible way and the framing of Government legislation to encourage this development beyond all others for employment here. At the same time, we should expand co-operativism so that we would have these two factors working together so that the void which I have pointed out and which is quite obvious to anybody who looks at the volume of capital needed, could then be filled.

The Knapp Report on co-operation in Ireland had, as its main recommendation, the expansion and rejuvenation of the IAOS and a suggestion of a grant of £100,000. That sum is just like the butt of a cigarette for the pilot areas; it is a joke and of no real significance in relation to this development of our agricultural processing industries such as the meat industry and even more so, the milk industry, the production and diversification of milk products as changing demands occur. All these things would be quite impossible unless we have three things: the expansion of the farmers' investment, the new idea of the NFA Trust or other such activities and the inclusion for the first time in major volume of investment by industry and involvement of industrialists in agricultural production and processing.

To give an idea of what is involved, let us think of Erin Foods. We know the figures; they are there to be seen. There was an investment of something over £20 million and they have just three or four factories buying vegetables from farmers. In its first year, the company lost spectacular sums. The principals at that time indicated that this was deliberately being done; they knew they would have to lose this money in marketing before they got their market and they planned that by 1971 there would be a viable situation for the company. Let us look at the £20 million-odd provided for the processing of vegetables in three or four factories, and then think of your meat trade. Then think of what you can do with cereals. Think of the bacon trade and think of the whole complete range, whatever it is, and realise that the investment, first of all, on the farms and, secondly, in the processing industry, is so colossal that it requires everything, co-operatives, farmers and industrialists, all pulling together, all understanding that one is not against the other but that they are one for all and all for one, that there is such a thing as profit, that it is necessary, that the absolute guarantee of advancement in any industry is that there is profit within it and that the person in Grafton Street is as much involved in our agricultural advancement as the man milking his cow.

I said a few words on this myself in an article in a review which I am sure the Minister might not read too often, the Fine Gael Digest, 1964. It is great when you find yourself three years afterwards in agreement with what you then said, though if you found yourself too often in agreement with what you said on a previous occasion, you would find yourself completely stultified. I quote from that article:

The answer lies in the first broad plan for agriculture produced by the NFA a few months ago. There a path had been indicated and targets defined. What was now needed was the spadework of Government, the organisation and administration that would see to it that the farmer who produced for the already established market got a fair return, and that there should be the instruments of presentation, such as pig fattening stations, grain drying stations, packing and processing units, and trade liaisons flourishing to provide new markets, and new customers by the expansion of existing markets, for the high class products of our agricultural land.

In this great effort it must be remembered that there was a place for all. There was a place for the farmer to increase his living standards as there must be a place also for his worker to do the same. There was a place for organisation of co-operative societies towards greater efficiency and greater service, and equally so, as must be shown by equal participation in grants and in Government facilities, there was a place for the businessman, the technician and the urban dweller. If there was no advantage for all these people then the expansion and the organisation of agriculture was something that could never take place.

I still believe, whether or not I am being a bit swollen-headed, in quoting what I said in 1964, that I was right then and that in fact if we do not interest the townlander and the industrialist in the expansion of agriculture, then that expansion falls far short of its optimum and the necessary funds will not be available for its achievement.

I now come to the part of the Minister's speech in which he dealt with the NFA dispute. I want to express, as a Member of Dáil Éireann, my extreme regret that he saw fit to do so in that way. I think without even the extension of a leaf from an olive branch, a lack of mention of the dispute would have been a great step forward in an impossible situation which he does not seem to help. The Minister gave us a detailed description of the NFA campaign as he sees it. There is quite a lot of truth in certain of the statements he made but there are certain things he did not say and certain things on which he put an individual complexion or interpretation.

I want to say, in relation to the first paragraph on page 23 of his circulated speech, that the then Minister, the present Minister for Finance, Deputy Haughey, knew quite well before the farmers ever started to march from Cork that he had broken off relations with them. He had done so because of a critical speech by the President of the NFA some days before they started to march from Cork. I do not believe he ever meant to meet them. His arrogance, which is a feature of Fianna Fáil Cabinet Ministers at the moment, had reached such a peak that he was prepared to believe he could let them arrive, not see them and make them go away again in a sort of dishonoured and humble fashion.

I do not believe there was a secret plan in relation to the sit-down on the steps. I am not condoning lawlessness of any kind. If the Minister had been a reader ofTime magazine at the same time as the farmers were sitting on the steps, he would have seen in it photographs of a group of negroes who were camping outside the White House in America. They had been there at that stage for 180 days and the Constitution of America certainly protected them in doing so. Nobody referred to them in any speeches. I would also point out that before the Minister set up his National Agricultural Council, he instructed his secretary to write to the NFA cutting off the yearly price review which he had given them only nine months before.

It would be a most healthy thing if the Minister could meet the farming organisations and discuss prices with them once a year. I am the first Member of this Parliament to say that the man who has most to do with prices, as far as those prices are involved in subsidies and Government moneys, should be the Minister, but before the National Agricultural Council was announced, the secretary of the Department was instructed to write to the NFA cancelling their price review.

Remember also that in the dispute the previous May the NFA were put in the difficult position that they were to go into their talks with the Minister on the price review at the same time as the ICMSA were parading up and down outside those offices. This situation was also fraught with difficulty for them. I want also to suggest that the arrest of a large number of members of the NFA on the day before they were to hold their council meeting, for which the main item on the agenda was the cessation of any illegal activity, was perhaps again calculated to annoy and distract them.

I want also to discuss the matter of the unanimity of the court decisions. I am not going to reflect on the justices or the courts but the Attorney General, as is his right under our Constitution, sought the severest penalities and sought, for the first time, to my knowledge, in this country, the disqualification of drivers for a period of six months, knowing that to most farmers with business to do and motorcars probably one of the severest punishments outside jail that could be inflicted on them was withdrawal for six months of their driving licences. There is the rare court case where this is paralleled by similar cases all over the country. Justices are only human and they must take heed, naturally, of the instructions of the Attorney General to his prosecutor, the State Solicitor, in those ordinary District Court cases. That is normal, proper and constitutional.

Therefore, a result of this was that what should certainly have been reduced in its seriousness by a different attitude by the Attorney General was expanded into something that was extremely serious and on which all justices followed a certain line. Law and judgment there must be, but I feel that the Attorney General who has the normal right of sitting with the Cabinet here must have heard the discussions thereon and that his decision, which he had a full right to give and which we must never take from him, to seek these arbitrary penalties was calculated to annoy and distract the NFA and put them at cross purposes with the Government.

To what conclusion do I come from this? I draw the conclusion that the Minister has convinced the Taoiseach that it would be in the best interests of the Fianna Fáil Party to crush the NFA irrevocably and that he is proceeding along this path in that conviction. I know the Minister as one of the most efficient and ruthless Party politicians in this House. The Minister will not, I am sure, take exception to either description. To me the happiest event that could arise would be if the NFA became lawless again, if they blocked the roads and if they created a situation whereby the Government could again invoke their powers and draw attention to their rights and their need to administer justice.

This is something that must bedevil entirely any opportunity for agricultural expansion. Attention has been drawn in this House to the fact that applications for loans to the Agricultural Credit Corporation are down, very severly down, this spring. I want to suggest that that is a sign of the times and that people who have no belief in the future, who have no hope, who are pulling away, and who believe that the advancement of the neighbour's farm is something that must be duplicated in their own, no longer come for loans. In a period of a credit squeeze, which is continuing, the opposite should be the case. The Agricultural Credit Corporation from whom farmers can seek long term loans is their own institution, founded by the late Deputy Paddy Hogan.

I believe the Minister desires the end of the NFA. He wants to crush them absolutely, completely and permanently. I should like to quote an extract from this afternoon's issue of theEvening Herald under the heading “Kildare NFA Criticises Circular”:

Contents of a circular sent to officers by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries were criticised by Kildare NFA Executive, at Naas. This directed that if information was received that any milk supplier was being intimidated in the supply of his milk to his creamery, the officer should get full details from him, including details of alternative transport facilities proposed, and telephone the Department immediately. The circular listed names of officers to whom the information should be telephoned.

It was also stated in the circular that, if it is possible to do so without delaying the report, the officer should inform the local Gardai, who might be able to supply further information, but, in any event, the Gardai should be contacted.

The chairman, Mr. Jim Blake, said it was disgraceful that such a request should be made to officers. Every Deputy should be asked if he was going to put down a question about it, and take a stand one way or another.

How far have we gone from the day when Deputy James Dillon as Minister for Agriculture said that any officer of his Department, or of a committee of agriculture, who came to a farmer's gate and was not invited in should go home? I am not condoning intimidation but I would point to the page in the Minister's speech which leads to intimidation. All he can produce is three isolated instances involving three people. I know of things that happen. I know about a can of milk that was spilled during this unfortunate dispute. I know that members of the local branch of the NFA did not spill it because the particular place where it was spilled is surrounded by four houses. A stranger had to arrive and get away but no stranger was seen. There are suspicions about who spilled it. To produce that isolated instance as something of a serious nature at a time when things are so serious is absolutely ridiculous.

Let me now point to a fact the Minister stated in his speech, that people who are involved in these incidents are a small minority. Let me inform the Minister that yesterday in the National Stadium the place was so crowded that some farmers had to leave after a certain period so as to let their comrades in for a similar period. Five thousand farmers, at least, assembled in Dublin yesterday to talk about their grievances at a time when the Minister is so bent to destroy their organisation.

What other evidence is there that the Minister desires this destruction? He has now decided that he will license marts. It is clear from all the newspaper reports I have read—it is hoped they are true and I am sure they are— that this is because he feels there is a danger of intimidation at cattle marts. I know of no serious intimidation at these marts. There may have been certain hotheads who said things they should not have said but there is no evidence that I know of of intimidation, except one isolated instance in the midlands. Worse than that, a previous Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Smith, produced the Agriculture (Amendment) Bill, 1964, whereby for the first time 50 per cent of the members of committees of agriculture would be extern members, the intention being that these people would be members of farmers organisations. We now have on the Order Paper of this House an amending Bill to get rid of this Act.

I do not want the character of the marts——

The Deputy has no right to talk about the marts. Why can the marts not be licensed the same as publichouses?

Will the Deputy please let Deputy Donegan proceed?

The purpose of this Bill——

Go back to the marts; why should they not be licensed?

I do not want the Bill discussed in the context of this debate. Will Deputies please allow Deputy Donegan to proceed?

Why should marts not be licensed the same as publichouses?

The purpose of licensing marts is the destruction of the National Farmers Association and Deputy Sheridan ought to be ashamed of himself. He will get his answer at the next election.

Deputy Donegan should be allowed to make his statement.

Let the Deputy go on with his statement; I know more about cattle marts and fairs than Deputy Donegan.

I sell as many cattle here in cattle marts as Deputy Sheridan.

Where does the Deputy sell them? I should like an explanation of that. I cannot see why the Minister is not entitled to license marts.

The first purpose in licensing marts is to use merely another gun to destroy the NFA: that is all there is to it.

Thanks be to God, I am getting it.

If the Deputy will not cease interrupting, I shall ask him to leave the House.

I will walk out. On a point of order, can I not make my point?

The Deputy should not argue with me.

I am not arguing with you. I know what I am talking about; that is the funny part of it.

Perhaps the most important factor in relation to the failure of the Minister's predecessor's heifer scheme is the fact that it has landed us in a position where we will have, I fear, another glut of cattle next back-end. The advice of the Minister is not of much use to people who have cattle fit for export now. But a study of the figures is interesting because the Minister's predecessor—on returning from the signing of the Free Trade Area Agreement—said this would represent an increase of £10 per head on every beast exported from this country. Of course, that was completely in error; all he wanted at that stage was votes.

Anyway, the position is this: we have got, according to the Minister's reply to a question of mine yesterday, 1,200,000 cattle to be exported during 1967. During 1966 we exported between fat cattle and store cattle 508,600 and about 130,000 in the form of beef.

The racketeers would get rid of them.

I think it is the licensing of publichouses in which the Deputy is interested.

I know what I am talking about; Deputy Donegan does not. That is the difference.

The Deputy must cease interrupting.

It is time you thought about it; it is very seldom I open my mouth but I am entitled to do so now.

This would indicate to me that last year we exported, between beef and cattle, something like 800,000. This year we have got to export 1,200,000 and the Minister is right when he says we have had better exports at the beginning of the year but we are still in the same position as we were in last year. The EEC is closed to us; it is closed to Britain, and to the number we cannot export to Europe we must add the number that cannot be sent from Britain because, remember, we were supplying to Britain. That is the trade built up over ten years—cattle arriving in Britain, staying two or three months, obtaining the Queen's subsidy and then moving on to Europe. The figures cannot be adduced at this moment but if the Minister does a little arithmetic, he will find there are about 200,000 or 300,000 cattle we cannot send this year, which we will have to send. That means—as far as I can see—another bad back—end. This is the result of the badly-framed heifer scheme. These are the things for which the Minister, or his predecessor, was responsible.

I have given up hope of any success. The Government are going to try to crush the NFA; they have failed in most of their efforts to expand cattle production in a sound and solid way and all I am hoping now is that, by some manner or means, there will be a general election and they will be put out. Otherwise, I can see nothing but a bad price for cattle, a lack of hope and a loss of hope in the farming community, a flight from the land and, worst of all—and here is where I produce my evidence of the slackening off of applications to the Agricultural Credit Corporation—a slackening in production, which will have its effect not only in Grafton Street, O'Connell Street, the factories of this country— which are largely supply factories for our own people—but in the political corridors here as well. I want to prophesy that the situation is one in which the Minister may find himself without his portfolio this day 12 months.

I shall begin by wishing the new Minister success in this very important endeavour and I am sure, knowing him and his performance in other ministries, the agricultural community need not have any doubts they will find in him an understanding and sympathetic Minister. I regret very much the decision of the NFA not to join the National Agricultural Council. I sincerely regret the dispute continuing for so long, but I do not think the Minister need have any worries because he will find available, within his own Party and without, in the farming community, a wealth of people who can contribute intelligently, from experience, all he will require in so far as agriculture is concerned.

I honestly think that in approaching this problem of farming, we would want to realise first that farmers are owners of property; they have duties as well as rights. Farmers have a duty to operate their land and work it not only for their own good and for the good of their dependants but for the good of their fellow man who has more problems. It is ordinary justice that those who own property have a responsibility to the community, apart from the responsibility they have to themselves. The holders of land particularly—whether or not they wish to accept this fact—are in possession of the real wealth in the country. They enjoy a security in the possession of that property which no other section of the community enjoys and, in enjoying that security, have the responsibility of which I have spoken. There are far too many people occupying land who think they have the sole right to occupy it and operate it merely for their own use and benefit, without any sense of responsibility to their fellow man who has no property.

One of the principles of farming which I learned and which used to be spoken of in farming areas, was that farmers would produce first what was necessary for their own table. We now find farmers who are very vocal in telling us what Government policy should be in farming and we find them not even producing what is necessary for their own table. We find farmers who are content because there is a certain labour content necessary——

They cannot get labour.

They will not pay labour.

They will pay labour but they will not get it.

Thank God, I have not yet seen the farmer who is prepared to pay the fixed agricultural wage and who is prepared to give his workers the conditions that are laid down and give them a sense of security in their employment but will get enough labour.

I should like to pay a tribute to the advisory services. I believe that they have a tremendously important role in the development of agriculture. I have witnessed in my own constituency a tremendous achievement for which the advisory services were mainly responsible, particularly in the field of fruit and vegetable growing. I believe that progressively we must ensure that all farmers will avail of these services. We have heard criticism of the services because of the expense involved. It is only expensive if it is not availed of. Whichever side of the House we belong to, we have a duty to ensure that these services are kept clear and clean and that every encouragement is given to every farmer to avail of them so that he can improve his lot in life.

In speaking of the advisory services, there is need at the present time to sound a word of caution. There is a danger that younger men coming up may be led to believe by advertisements of big commercial concerns that all farmers' ills can be cured from either a fertiliser bag or a can of weed killer. The basic thing the services must remember is that the soil is the main thing, that the soil is a living thing and that a farmer must know first how to handle soil and its operation if he is to be a successful farmer. I honestly believe that our contribution here and outside should be one of helpful, constructive criticism, if necessary, or suggestions as to what we might do or what the Minister might consider in order to improve the lot of farmers.

The Deputy who spoke before me held out nothing but a depressing future for farmers. He is doing a disservice to the community and a disservice in particular to the farmers. I do not want to make nor is it my intention to make a political speech but if there is one great distinguishing mark as between this side of the House and the other side, it is that members of the Opposition never seem to have confidence in the ability of the people to do anything, whether it is the agricultural arm or the industrial arm.

Would you let us know when you become political?

I have always believed that given the chance, they will work, and that is all a Government's duty is, to give people the opportunity to work. If anyone wants to measure how far the farming community has come, he need only think about where they were in 1932 when this Party took office.

Where were they in 1948?

I said that I want to stress the importance of our agricultural services, particularly in dealing with young farmers, insisting on the importance of the proper handling of the soil. In the present age when practically all our farming operations are carried out mechanically, there is a grave danger that harm will be done to soils. If that is done, we cannot have good crops. Whatever we may say about the old people, they knew a lot about soil that we would do well to remember. While I certainly appreciate and welcome the money spent on research by our fertiliser people and our chemical and machinery people. I feel we must ourselves advise the farmers. We find many farmers spending money, sometimes money they have not got, as a result of high pressure salesmanship either on machinery or on chemicals or on fertilisers. Whatever we do to the land, it is well known that the land will remember it.

In so far as Government policy is concerned, I should like to suggest for the Minister's consideration, now that he is viewing this position, that in so far as possible he should ensure that those employed in the different branches of agriculture should get a relative income, taking into consideration the labour and the capital requirements.

I could see danger signs looming up over the past couple of years with the dangerous switch, I thought, to the production of milk and people getting out of tillage. We could find ourselves in a position, if we allow that to go on, some years hence when we would be calling on the taxpayer to aid the exporter of milk products and we would be forced to import some of the things necessary to produce that milk. We should aim, as far as possible, at preserving our tillage. I agree heartily and readily that our milk production and our cattle industry are by far the most important, because not only do we produce milk but we also produce the cattle, but I should like to draw that aspect of things to the Minister's attention. It is an easy switch nowadays from tillage to milk and there could be the danger that people would go out of production of the things necessary to feed and keep a cow over the winter months.

Cattle prices have been spoken of a number of times in the last session and in this session. The price of cattle is certainly a very important factor but the really important thing is what is left to the person who fattens or keeps cattle from one year or one and a half years until the animals are fit to be exported as store or finished beasts. What is important is how much cash is left for the farmer. What I have in mind is that people who rear cattle find themselves, when cattle are at boom prices, paying prices for calves which do not leave them a chance of making money out of the rearing of cattle. If a young Hereford bull calf is to cost—as they did when cattle prices were very high—in the region of £20 or £25, and in some cases £30, I do not think that a person who continues to rear that animal and keeps him until he is two years or two and a half years old has any hope of making any worthwhile money out of him.

What are the calves costing now?

I think that £14 or £15 should be the maximum for a good bull calf. If a farmer pays the extra £10, there is £1 per cwt. against that animal when it is being sold. These are the facts. We can talk about the price of calves, if you like, but these are facts you cannot explain away. It is £1 per cwt. against a ten cwt. beast when that beast is finished, and you cannot always expect to have the price so much in your favour.

On the tillage side, I should like to say that I am very much concerned about the prices paid for our grain. The present price for feeding barley is too low.

Hear, hear.

Whoever said, "hear, hear" may not be as concerned about the people who are feeding pigs, but we have in our part of the country a concern paying £2 more per barrel for barley than the fixed price. They did last year and the year before.

Per barrel?

Per ton: thank you for the correction.

It was a slip of the tongue.

They are paying £2 per ton more than the fixed price; yet they are able to sell their pig compound at 30/- a ton less than the quoted price. There is room here to give more to the person who produces the barley, and if the compound must go up, leave those who are fattening pigs with a lesser profit. In a case like this, the man who produces from the soil is entitled to a better reward.

On the question of malting barley, there is one thing that intrigues me. In my constituency there are six farmers with a contract between them for 10,000 barrels of malting barley. We hear a lot of talk about the small farmers and the welfare of the small farmers. A contract for 50 barrels of barley is of vital importance to a small farmer, if he can get it. Here we have six people in possession of hundreds of acres, and between them they have a contract for 10,000 barrels. It beats me. It is something that may be beyond our ken, but it is something that is happening.

The price of wheat is entirely satisfactory. I want to say that what caused the reduction in the acreage of wheat was not the price. What caused the reduction was the method of purchasing wheat. I and many others have witnessed in the wheat-producing areas farmers lined up at the intake point waiting for their wheat to be tested and being told: "Take £2 per barrel or bring it home." That was what killed the acreage of wheat. I hope it is not too late for the Minister to endeavour to get back to the method of purchasing wheat to the bushel weight and moisture content. The farmer understand that. The tests can be carried out in a very short time. The farmer knows if he is not getting top price, and he knows why. If he is a proper farmer, he knows the means he must employ in order to get it.

On the question of oats, that is a crop that is going out in my part of the country. What is helping this along is that oats is a crop which is not easily handled or well handled by combines. I do not believe we have paid enough attention to the breeding of oats. We have the land that is capable of growing oats good enough for racehorses and good enough to be used by those employed in rearing and training horses. We have been too long negligent in the breeding of proper oats. We have not given enough care to that problem and we should consider that for the future.

In any improvement in this whole operation of farming, the question of credit is of vital importance. We must have it under two heads. We must have credit for the long-term capital undertakings that are necessary, whether they be the provision of dwellings for the farmer or the provision of his out buildings or the drainage of his land. That must be the long term, and side by side, we must have available to him short-term capital. That is equally important.

It must be available to him so that he can buy the necessaries of life, and so that he can pay for the running expenses of the farm in cash, because the cost of credit to a farmer who must buy seeds and manure and what is necessary to support himself and his family is too high. The cheapest form of credit is money. Short-term credit must be made available to him to enable him to buy for cash. There is very little difficulty in assessing the production of any farmer, whether he is in milk, in tillage crops, or in any other line. We can easily see how much he produces for sale in any one year. The mechanics of it are very easily overcome in order to make available to him at the beginning of the year a percentage of his total production. If he produces £1,000 worth in one year, £700 or £800 should be available to him the following year in short-term capital in order to enable him to pay for the necessaries of life.

The number of applications to the Agricultural Credit Corporation for loans was referred to by the previous speaker. I also heard it referred to in the boom time a few years ago when the corporation were not able to handle all the applications for loans. At that time the Opposition were saying the country was broke and that the corporation were loaded with applications for money because the farmers had not a penny. Now, when applications are fewer, we have the other story.

I want to say to the Minister, now at the beginning of his term of office, that he should regard the question of credit as of vital importance to the farmers. Big farmers with broad acres in present scheme conditions can draw on State money every year for one project or another. I agree that the man with broad acres should be entitled to get a grant in one year but not £300, £400 or £500 every year. We should reconsider this matter and we should ensure that small farmers, particularly, are given credit at very much reduced rates.

This debate is too important to be turned into a political discussion. We must be serious about this matter of agriculture. It has been said by Deputies from all sides of the House that the farmers, particularly the small farmers, are the backbone of the country. This has been said at every level. I am glad that today we have a Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries who comes from what began as a small farm but is now bigger. He is a person who should understand the problems of farmers, big and small. Because Deputy Donegan made a very discourteous remark to me—he asked me was I interested in a publichouse or a farm—I should like to put it on record that I am surely interested in farming. I am very proud to say that I am the son of a small farmer and that I have got into a much larger farm than I was reared on. Deputy Donegan's business is publichouse business and any kind of racketeering business. You were not here, Sir——

It does not arise on the Estimate.

Not only does it not arise but it should be withdrawn. Deputy Sheridan said that Deputy Donegan was interested in any kind of racketeering business.

A roadside publichouse, a racketeering business; that is exactly what I wanted to say. Put me out, now, if you like.

I am on my feet on a point of order.

Would Deputy Sheridan resume his seat while a point of order is being raised?

I will. I am not one of those persons who want nonsense.

The remark of Deputy Sheridan should not have been made and I ask the Chair to require him to withdraw it.

The remark made about racketeering is a disorderly remark and I ask Deputy Sheridan to withdraw it. I realise Deputy Sheridan was replying to a remark made by Deputy Donegan which also should not have been made.

May I ask you, Sir, were you here when Deputy Donegan made a very discourteous and offensive reply to me when I challenged him on the cattle trade? Were you aware of that——

I was not so aware.

It is not correct, in any event.

I am correct in what I have stated.

We should get back to the Estimate.

I have raised a point of order and you have not ruled on it. I am afraid that inadvertently Deputy Sheridan was on his feet when I raised it. I am raising a point of order.

I ask Deputy Sheridan to withdraw "racketeering" in relation to Deputy Donegan.

Being the gentleman I am, I shall apologise. I do not want to be fired out.

I appreciate the handsome withdrawal.

Thanks very much. Now that I may resume my few words on the Estimate, suggestions were made by members of the Opposition, and perhaps by members of the Government, that the heifer calf scheme has been responsible for the present upside-down state of the cattle trade. That is not so. When the scheme was instituted, I approved of it because, like many members of the Government and the Opposition, I thought it would increase our exports. Let that be so or not, I should like to ask the Minister on this occasion to establish proper marketing arrangements. Being a member of the Irish Cattle Traders and Exporters Association, I am deeply concerned in this matter. At one time of the year, cattle make £10 or £11 per cwt but at other times they fall back to £6 per cwt. It is a very serious matter and the Minister must look at it afresh. A new council has been set up and I hope the Minister, the Chairman of that council, will ensure that serious steps are taken to see that this matter is rectified so that there will not be a recurring decline in the cattle trade at the end of each year.

I am in agreement with what has been said about the licensing of cattle marts. I am all for it. Why should these people not be brought under proper control? No matter what has been said about the Minister or previous Minister for Agriculture, the people who control these marts should be made responsible to the people. If there is a bankrupt mart in the morning, who will be held liable for the losses of farmers, big and small?

I am sorry to interrupt the Deputy but on the question of the licensing of livestock marts a Bill was introduced today and the House will be afforded an opportunity of a full debate. The question does not relevantly arise on the Agriculture Estimate.

The Deputy who spoke before me mentioned it.

The Minister mentioned it in his opening speech.

He mentioned it very briefly in the course of his opening remarks but that does not license any Deputy to initiate a full dress debate on the matter. When the Bill comes before the House, Deputies will have an opportunity.

During the few remarks I hope to make on this Estimate I should like to mention iten passant.

Every Deputy who has spoken referred to it.

Except Deputy Kennedy.

Deputy Sheridan should reserve his remarks on this matter until the Bill comes before the House.

I am afraid you put me off. I am glad Deputy Kennedy mentioned the subject of tillage. It is a serious problem. While some people grew rich, others grew poor. This country will never be right until we produce the maximum amount we want, let it be malting barley, feeding barley and so on. I must pay tribute to Deputy Dillon. When he was Minister for Agriculture, he said there was no point in bringing in goods from a foreign country if you had to process them here and send them back to the same country. No matter what farmers say and no matter what organisations they have, surely it ought to be possible to produce—and I am speaking now as a farmer myself—the milk, the barley or whatever else we want in this country? We have the soil. It is up to us to do whatever we can to make a living for ourselves, our families and the nation. Surely nobody begrudges that right?

With regard to this problem of the NFA v. the Minister and the Government, it is something I do not want to intervene in. I know that irregular marketing and other things have discouraged farmers. But I want to make myself very clear on this: while I certainly will not ever align myself with any illegal organisation, anybody who obstructs bridges or does not pay rates, I will align myself with anybody who will come to the Minister and say: "Right; meet the farmers now. Have a round table conference and we will talk about the matters most important to farmers". That must be the nearest thing to the heart of any farmer or any farmer's wife, because the women are marching too. For heaven's sake, let us not be hypocritical. Let us get down to the people at street level and give them instances of where they are right or wrong. We live in a democracy and we know what can be done at county council level when we get people talking and get the best terms we can. On many occasions I have seen approaches to the local authority of which I am proud to be a member for increases in wages, shorter hours and so on. We got down to business and did the best we could. Surely we ought to be able to do something about this national problem? I will be only too glad to intervene in any way I can to help this matter.

The debate on this Estimate is a debate on the Estimate which relates to our foremost and most important industry. We are debating this Estimate this year in a sense of emergency, indeed almost of crisis. We are certainly debating the affairs of agriculture in this country at a time when there is a general air of despondency and disillusionment and a lack of leadership. Agriculture in the past 12 months certainly has gone through a very difficult period. Those in this House who represent rural constituencies will, I am sure, agree with me that the past 12 months has been a period in which farmers have received poor prices, prices that have consistently dropped. At the same time, it has been a period in which there has been for farmers the experience of rising rates and rising costs. This has to be put against a background where, at the beginning of the last calendar year, at the time this House debated the British Free Trade Agreement, the then Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in the opening months of 1966 held out to Irish farmers a promise of tremendous profits and remuneration to be earned last year if only they would continue to make endeavours until the month of July of last year. Cattle prices were to rise and every farmer was promised by the then Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries good times, good prices and a fair return for everything he had to sell. It is against the background of that kind of absurd claim made by a Minister who has now left the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, as he left previously the Department of Justice, leaving behind him in each case problems to be solved——

That is not true.

(Cavan): What about the Succession Bill? He ran away from that.

He did not run away from it.

It scarcely arises on Agriculture.

The principal fact, in any event, has been that, backgrounded against what was promised from the British Free Trade Area Agreement of last year, the actual experience by Irish farmers has been generally one of blighted hopes, of poor returns, leading to a general air of disillusionment and, as I say, despondency.

I want to remind the House that this time last year, when this Estimate was being discussed, outside in Kildare Street people who claimed to be representing the farmers of Ireland were marching up and down with pickets, picketing Dáil Éireann, picketing the people's Parliament. They felt they had a grievance. They felt that they had not been able to have access to the ear of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. Up and down they walked. As they did one turn up and another turn down, up would come a Garda officer to inquire their names. They all spoke with southern accents. They all came from Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Cork—let us not forget it. They were picketing Leinster House because the Minister would not listen to what they regarded as a reasonable claim and a reasonable demand. They were arrested. One after the other they went into the Black Marias that were lined up to take them away to prison and having been taken away to prison they were charged in our district courts and our district courts became so full of farmers from the south that the lists could not be dealt with. But there was a difference this time last year. It happened that on June 1st, which was then rapidly approaching, the people of Ireland would vote in an election for the President of this country.

And they did.

(Cavan): You might say they did.

On the Friday before they voted, lo and behold, those who picketed Leinster House and who were charged by the Government with breaking the law of the land, those who were charged with being engaged in a conspiracy to frustrate Parliament itself suddenly found that a vast sum of money was suddenly available to provide a concession for their demands and that a fairy godmother suddenly appeared on the scene to pay their fines, to release them from jail, to send them back to their wives and families without a stain upon their character.

I can understand the Deputy's pique with the South.

I am not in the slightest bit displeased with the South. I would be happy to remind the Parliamentary Secretary that the south of Ireland backed the candidate opposed to the President.

The turning point did not.

I want to recall that 12 calendar months ago it paid Irish farmers to picket Leinster House and to break the law of this land, as was alleged by the Government. Fines were paid by nameless ones. Court sentences were wiped out and the matter there ended. I do not think there is anyone on any side of the House who did not welcome what we regarded as the end of a situation in which those who represented an important section of our farmers were frustrated by not being able to talk to Ireland's Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. Everybody felt this time last year that that was the end of a situation in which, in frustration, in anger or in despondency, Irish farmers had to march on Ireland's Parliament or Ireland's capital because Ireland's Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries would not bid them the time of day or listen to them.

How wrong we were. June, July, August, September, October, what happened? Again, we found precisely the same thing, that in the autumn of last year a situation had arisen in which the same Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries did precisely the same thing with an organisation claiming to represent, and representing, the farmers of this country. He refused to speak to them, to entertain their demands or to listen to what they had to say and, once again, the farmers of Ireland were forced to march from Kerry, Clare, Donegal. From the west and from the east they marched in groups, meeting together, marching on the capital city. I do not think anyone who saw their advent into this city felt that they were coming to intimidate anyone, felt that they were coming to terrorise or cause trouble.

Of those who saw the long line of grim-faced, dust-coated men walking in an orderly manner from O'Connell Street down to this building, men weary from many miles of walking but grim and determined, there was not one in this city who did not entertain for them admiration and respect. They assembled outside the offices of their servant—let us not forget it. I want to remind members of the present Government, lest they forget it, that their title and style, of which they should be proud, is that they are the servants of the Irish people. When they assembled outside the offices of their servant, there to talk to him about Ireland's primary industry, the industry on which our towns, our villages and our cities depend fundamentally, they found he was not at home, he could not see them, he was not prepared to meet these farmers who had come from every part of Ireland, even to listen to what they had to say.

I do not know whether a thing like that could have happened anywhere else except in this country and under a Fianna Fáil Government. There could have been trouble. There was such a blast of anger through that vast crowd of farmers outside that for a moment those who had assembled might have done something that would have led to an open defiance and breach of the law. It is right that here in this House I or someone should acknowledge the fact that in that moment of danger when the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries refused to meet the farmers of Ireland there were wise heads and responsible people who said: "Be calm. Do not do anything wrong. Disband in an orderly way, as you met. Go back to your counties. Go back to your homes. Some of us will wait here because perhaps the man could not meet us this afternoon but maybe he can meet us tomorrow morning or the next day."

None of us is perfect; all of us are human. I do not know in what circumstances people from time to time are forced, driven, led, persuaded into a situation in which they break the law, but certainly a well-known cause is provocation. Many a person finds and has found himself breaking the law because he has been provoked into a course which, in normal circumstances, he would never entertain. For weeks after that date in November, on the footpath outside Government Buildings, to our shame and disgrace, camped out like itinerants, there were the representatives in due course of every county in Ireland, in the wet, in the rain, in the snow, waiting patiently for the gracious day when their servant would deign to meet them and talk about a problem which should be the common responsibility of the Minister for Agriculture and every farmers' organisation.

Throughout November there they waited patiently, these representatives of the National Farmers' Association of Ireland. I may tell you they would still be waiting there now, months later, were it not for the fact that suddenly, at the end of last year, two by-elections had to be fought. When that situation came about, not wished, and regretted by all Members of the House who knew both of the Deputies concerned, with these two unexpected deaths and the impending decision of the then Taoiseach, in the circumstances, to get out, with provision being made for a new Taoiseach, it was then decided: "All right; we will start the new boys well. We will get the farmers off the steps so that the new Taoiseach and the new Minister for Agriculture can start off with a clean sheet, and everything may go well."

Therefore, the then Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, and the then Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Haughey, with the usual face-saving on both sides, arranged to meet the National Farmers Association. The tents were folded and the caravans moved to one side of the road, and in they went to meet the Taoiseach of Ireland and Ireland's Minister for Agriculture. I do not know; politics is supposed to be at times, according to a certain well-known author who used to be quoted in this House from time to time, namely, Machiavelli, an exercise in expediency. It was an expedient thing to do. If the people were to vote in the constituency of Kerry and in the constituency of Waterford, it was expedient that the farmers should not be sitting outside Government Buildings. It was expedient that it be made possible for them to leave, and that meeting was accordingly convened.

Then our present Taoiseach was elected, and he appointed our present Minister for Agriculture. He met the farmers a day or two later and for six hours there was jaw, jaw, jaw. They talked and they talked and they talked. At least it was a good thing to see them talking, but for how long did the talking last? It is worth recalling that the talking lasted for just as long as it was necessary to get the people of Kerry and the people of Waterford to vote, and then we found that all the talking that was going on was under a sense of mutual confusion and misunderstanding. We then had a situation in which things were worse than they had been a few weeks before. The new Taoiseach was now being disowned by his Minister for Agriculture. The previous Minister for Agriculture who had promised a meat marketing board was being told by the new Minister for Agriculture: "That is out." The NFA were being told by the Minister for Agriculture that what they thought had been said had not been said at all. Things were worse than ever before, with the Taoiseach being told to keep out of it.

That is not true.

The new Minister was going to rule the roost. Provocation is a powerful thing. It has made sane men mad. It has made upright citizens do things they would never do. Provocation—a situation in which an organisation representative of many thousands of farmers whose leaders had suffered the possibility of a loss of face by getting up from the steps outside Government Buildings, who had sat down with the Leaders of two successive Governments, Deputy Lemass and Deputy Lynch, with their two Ministers for Agriculture, and who found at the end that they were merely being used as dupes, as tools, in a particular exercise in expediency. Where were they to go? They could no longer reason with Ireland's Minister for Agriculture. They could no longer look forward to a possibility of talking to the Leader of Ireland's Government, and so we had the road-blocking in the month of January of this year.

I want to know—and I regret that the Minister for Agriculture cannot spare the time to be here in this House for more than a few odd moments during this debate—what was the Government doing about these road blockades in January of this year. If ever an exercise was canvassed and advertised, that was. I saw it coming; the Minister saw it coming. We were told for weeks beforehand that, on a named date in January, desperate farmers, provoked into this particular exercise, were going to take their vehicles out and block the roads. In order to make the message quite clear, they had a test performance a week or ten days before. What were the Government doing? Blowing bubbles? The plain fact is that the Government, knowing this would be done, sat back with folded arms and waited for it to happen.

Provocation can lead to a breach of the law and the person who breaks the law, under provocation, goes outside the law. But there is nothing worse than the person who aids and abets, who watches a breach of the law, knowing it is taking place and does nothing about it. In relation to the road blockade in January of this year, I charge the Government that they aided and abetted that blockade. They knew it was coming. They wanted it to happen because they thought that it would put the NFA in the wrong and out on a limb.

Quite untrue.

It is a pity the Parliamentary Secretary is not a member of the Government because then he could speak on behalf of the Government. I suggest he should have a Minister here——

The Deputy's Party aided and abetted those who broke the law with much more serious intent.

I would also recommend to the Parliamentary Secretary the unwisdom of a member of the Fianna Fáil Party talking about breaking the law to a member of the Fine Gael Party.

Hear, hear.

You people are very fond of quoting law and order.

I want to be quite clear about this: the National Farmers Association was, in my view, forced into a situation in which they put themselves outside the law. There is no one—let there be no doubt about this—on this side of the House or on the other side of the House who condoned or supported what was done in January of this year; quite the contrary. We regretted it happening. We regretted that decent, respectable men should have been forced into a situation in which they did what they did. It is fair to say, I think, that in the ensuing six weeks, the leaders of the National Farmers Association recognised—they did not expressely say it, but it was clear enough—that they had made a mistake in relation to the road blockade; having been invited to do so, asked to do so and, indeed, encouraged to do so by many people, they made it quite clear that at no stage in the future would they engage in a similar operation outside the law. Having made that declaration, it was then possible for the Leader of the Government and the Minister for Agriculture to meet the National Farmers Association.

I want, for the record, to remind Deputies now that in a period of three or four months we have had a chronic repetition of a certain situation—a boiling up, both sides at daggers drawn, and then somebody making a concession, an atmosphere of calmness for a period, and then someone losing his head again. The Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture met the NFA in February. There was a long discussion. Everybody said: "Thanks be to God; now we will have an end to this bitterness. Things will be all right." How long did that last? A matter of a few days. The next we heard was the usual statement, the denial, the charge and countercharge. They were back at it as hard as ever before.

That continued up to the beginning of this month when it was suggested the Spring Show would be boycotted by the NFA—the major agricultural show in the country. Lo and behold, after an indifferent start to the Spring Show, there was universal satisfaction because, once again, there had been an intervention, a meeting, a package deal, and all the farmers who had been arrested were out, or so people were led to believe. But, no. Apparently there was no package deal and, according to the Minister for Justice, it was quite wrong to say there was. There was no comprehensive settlement and we were back again to the same situation. The only redeeming feature was that the Spring Show was supported.

Where are we going? We are a small nation, a little over three million people. We are making ourselves the laughingstock of Europe. We have a potential in agriculture, a potential which is, perhaps, in the long run our one viable asset. We are supposed to be going into Europe in the next 18 months, going in to face competition from the hardheaded Danes and the Dutch. What are we doing? Cutting our own throats——

Hear, hear.

——and proceeding to destroy the one industry which might make this nation a viable economic unit. And all for the sake of dotting the i's and crossing the t's, insisting on the letter of the law. Twelve months ago there was no talk about the rule of law when the farmers were collected in Black Marias, brought down to Mountjoy, and sprung a few days later because someone was kind enough to pay their fines. That was all forgotten. Now, in order to enable someone's ego to be flattered and in order to prevent a situation in which some fallible member of the Fianna Fáil Government would have to be made realise that, as a Minister, he is a servant, the rule of law is puffed up as an impossible barrier against the promotion of a situation in which the National Farmers Association and the Government can co-operate and work together.

I suggest that so far as ordinary people outside this are concerned—I speak in this regard not only in relation to the Fine Gael Party but in relation to most people—we are sick and tired of this performance, sick and tired of reading statements and counter-statements each day, one getting worse than the other, exchanges between the NFA and the Government.

The Deputy is not doing much to help it.

I am playing my part in a responsible manner.

The Deputy is playing politics.

I am glad the Parliamentary Secretary reminded me of that. Before I pass from this, I should like to answer the suggestion made by the Taoiseach and, I think, repeated by some Fianna Fáil Deputies recently. About a week or ten days ago, the Taoiseach said, in relation to the NFA dispute, that this Party had been making political capital out of it. I want to assert that that is not true. I want to assert that at all times, from the moment the farmers picketed outside in Kildare Street to the moment they marched up into Merrion Square and throughout all these months, our Party have maintained a situation in which, above all, we sought neither to embarras nor to prejudice either side and sought at all times to get people together. The Parliamentary Secretary and, indeed, other members of Fianna Fáil, know well that, behind the scenes and out in the open, we have sought by every means possible to encourage reason and goodwill and discussion. We have not made political capital out of it.

The Chief Whip of the Deputy's Party has on two occasions——

Deputy O'Higgins should be allowed to speak without interruption.

At no stage have we done it. It certainly did not suit the Taoiseach, nor was it appropriate for him to make that charge. I do not know what the end of this will be but I am certain that, so long as we have a situation in which the Government of Ireland goes one road and the farmers of Ireland find themselves going another road, the people who will suffer is our community, the country itself.

We simply cannot afford to have this kind of senseless feuding amongst important sections of our community. We cannot afford feuding between the farmers and the Government, nor can we afford feuding between different organisations amongst the farmers themselves. That is bad. It is a very bad thing that agriculture should be used as it has been used, particularly in recent years, as some kind of a political playground with gimmicks being introduced by the Government from time to time to placate one particular section and a leap-frogging effort between different organisations. That is bad and has been proved to be bad. Unless somebody bangs together the heads of all those responsible, including that of the Minister, this country will suffer.

We need to grow up. We need to be more adult. We need to realise that we must work out, as a matter of urgency, an agricultural policy that will prepare the way for our entry into Europe. There may be an outbreak of sanity on the part of the Government: I do not know. Usually, political Parties who find themselves in office, who are there one year, two years, three years, five years, ten years, become very settled in their ways. They become more or less certain that they are right because, after all, must they not be right because they won the last election and the election before it and the election before it again? In that way, they do not become receptive to public opinion. They have all their advisers who are there telling them what wonderful fellows they are, writing their speeches for them and then telling them that they made a wonderful speech. Therefore, with a Government who have been too long in office, an air of euphoria is created all around them until, some day, there comes the sudden realisation that they have not as many friends in the country as they thought they had, and then they are gone.

There is no general election now and there will not be one, I suppose, until the period of this Dáil has run its due course. There are local elections which will be held on 28th June. I suppose Deputy Davern will say that I am now going to exploit the NFA—I am. I am giving a bit of advice to the NFA if they will take it from me. One of their troubles has been that, under their constitution—and I can understand it and this was donebona fide and in order to achieve a sense of security and independence for Irish farmers— they have guaranteed that they will not enter into politics and that, whatever happens, they will not find themselves concerned with politics. Those are very sound sentiments, very high principles, but when you go to bargain and negotiate with a tough crowd of warriors like the Fianna Fáil Government and when you go into the council chamber and you start off by saying: “Whether you give us our demands or you do not, whether you kick us down or put us sitting down, whether you slap us in the face or do not, no matter what you do to us, we shall not advise anybody to vote against you”, you are not getting very far.

Hear, hear.

If the alternative for the NFA is to break the law of this land or to break their own constitution by going political and advising their members to vote against Fianna Fáil, I advise them to do it—

The Deputy has been doing it for the past half an hour.

——because, the very moment they do it, the very moment the NFA decide: "If the Government will not be reasonable with us, will not talk over these matters with us, will not even meet us, then we shall advise our members and their wives to vote against Fianna Fáil candidates" then they will be amazed. Reason will break out. The NFA will be welcomed in to talk over a matter that should have been talked over months before that. Until such time as the NFA or any other body realises that we are a democracy and that, in a democracy, there is only one sanction that is effective, right and proper, namely, the use of the ballot box, until that is realised then decent men, responsible men, respectable men, law abiding men, in frustration, will be forced into doing things that they should not do because they have no other course open to them.

Now, I hope we shall see an end of this. It is a matter of urgency that we should get back into a situation in which Irish farmers know where long-term development lies, a situation in which Irish farmers, in a sense of enthusiasm, are gearing their industry for entry into Europe. We should get back to a sense of partnership between the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the farmers, the kind of partnership that existed when the NFA came into being at the invitation and with the encouragement of Deputy Dillon, who was then Minister for Agriculture. That was at a time when as Minister for Agriculture he saw the necessity for building up an association of this kind and the urgency for having a partnership between the Minister and the agricultural industry and those who work in it. I hope we can get back to that situation as quickly as possible because if we do not and if we enter Europe I fear we will have missed an opportunity, an opportunity which can mean a great deal for this country. Let there be no mistake about it, if we miss that opportunity our children and our children's children will hold us responsible for allowing our country and its economy to be wiped out in the fierce competition that Europe is going to bring.

I was rather amused by the statements made by Deputy O'Higgins. He evidently has a lot of wrong dates. I do not know where he found them but he found them. I am not at all surprised by his anxiety in view of what I saw as an old Member of this House. When I came into this House first, there was a pretty considerable number of farmer representatives here. To be exact, there were eight and they were some kind of allies with Deputy O'Higgins's Party which then had a different name, the Cumann na nGaedheal Party. I remember a Private Member's Bill being brought in here which was designed to compel the landlords to abide by the agreement they had made, known as temporary abatements, with their tenants. The landlords in all cases had returned the old rents as the rents and instead of getting a reduction in rent under the 1924 Land Act those unfortunate men found themselves with a ten per cent increase. They got a 30 per cent reduction under the 1924 Land Act and under the temporary abatements they got a reduction of 40 per cent. That is on the records of this House and on a vote here, the Bill was defeated by 11 votes. Eight of those 11 votes were the votes of the farmer representatives.

A few months later, in view of the unfortunate condition in which the farmers were, in view of their impoverished condition, a motion for a £ million relief of rates was brought in. That also was defeated by 11 or 12 votes—I am not sure which—but I do know that the eight farmers' votes were cast against the £1 million relief in rates for the farmers. I admit that the price was paid and a gentleman here, Michael R. Heffernan, was made Minister for Posts and Poles for that Government. They disappeared and another Farmers' Party came in which was called——

This is very interesting, I am sure, but will the Deputy relate it to what is before the House?

I am relating it to what has been said for the past hour.

I cannot see any relevance in going into the history of the farmers as a political Party.

I am dealing with the anxiety of Deputy O'Higgins and his advice that the NFA should become political. The next team I saw swallowed up was that of Deputy McDermot and Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon has been hanging around over there ever since. That was the second exhibition that we got. Then we had Deputy Blowick and Deputy Donnellan and others on the same line. I saw those unfortunate men walk around that to vote against any increase in the price of milk for the farmers they represented. They disappeared too. There is one of them left, Deputy O'Hara. That is what we saw. I am a farmer, and I am sorry. We have seen the Labour Party doing their job for their people independently but I have given three instances of what Cumann na nGaedheal first and Fine Gael after them, did with the Farmers' Parties who came in here to do their job for the farmers.

Nobody regrets more than I any difference between farmers' organisations, speaking as a member of the oldest farmers' organisation in this State, an organisation formed in 1932 for the purpose of looking after the beetgrowers. We carried out negotiations and I know to my own grief the advantage that can be taken by any Minister for Agriculture—no matter from what Party he comes—when you find two farmers' organisations endeavouring to negotiate. I know to my grief because we were negotiating on the price of barley and wheat as well as on beet and vegetables for a long number of years when there was no other farmers' organisation to do it. Suddenly this child that we have now, of which Deputy Dillon is the father, according to Deputy O'Higgins anyway, the NFA, came into being.

We asked the then Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Dillon, to meet us to negotiate the price of wheat and feeding barley. He met us on a Thursday and we put up our case for an increase. He just stood up and said: "I had another farmers' organisation in here on Tuesday last. They were decent, responsible men, not like you fellows." As a result the poor farmers found themselves, instead of getting 48/- per barrel for feeding barley, getting 40/-. Those are stubborn, hard facts that cannot be contradicted. Following our example of organising to look after our commodity, the creamery milk suppliers came along and formed their organisation to look after creamery milk suppliers. As Deputy O'Higgins said, last year we had them marching up and down outside, picketing and seeking an increase in the price of milk. While they were marching up and down out there, we had the other farmers' organisation under Mr. Deasy walking in past them to interview the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Deputy Haughey, to see if he would give them authority to say they had got 1d a gallon more for milk.

We see where this thing leads. Many years ago we called all the farmers' organisations together in Thurles in an effort to get what should exist in this country, a federation of farmers' organisations prepared to work together and help each other, each representing their own commodity and free to negotiate for that commodity. That is what is required. I say that as a founder member of the Beet Growers Association, as one who had to accept 35/- a ton for beet for the farmers on one occasion and who is now in the proud position of having 151/- per ton for the same commodity.

At that time we had to set a lead, so far as I was concerned, by getting a basic price, based on the cost of production plus a fair profit. We met General Costello when he was first appointed general manager of the Sugar Company and we negotiated on that basis with him. Afterwards, I said to him: "Surely there is some better way of settling this matter than by meeting here and fighting over pence for a month and then spending the next three months abusing each other, each thinking that the other has `done' him? Why not cost the production?""It would cost you a lot of money", he said. I said: "We will go in with you." We did, and the crop was costed in 1947 and 1948 and the cost of production was taken from 400 different farmers with different soils, different conditions and everything else. It cost £6,000 of which the Sugar Company paid £4,000 and the Beet Growers Association paid £2,000. On that costing, up to two years ago, we met the Sugar Company each year, brought the costings up to date and got our price.

Two years ago General Costello told us they could not meet our price unless they got an increase in the price of sugar. Apparently, that was not forthcoming. I told him we would have to get what we were entitled to. We had a strike. I led that strike and I am not a bit sorry for it. We fought it out to the point where we had to get the 5/3d a ton that the costings allowed us and we got it.

The trouble here is—how shall I put it?—there seems to be no conception as to the difference between the rural community, whether farmers or workers, and those in the towns and cities, organised industrial workers. Nobody has the slightest conception of what this means. In November 1965, for example, we went to General Costello to bring our costings up to date. He met us with his two hands up and said: "There is no money here for anybody." I said: "Let us in, in any case, and we shall have a chat." We went in and he repeated his statement inside. I said that I wanted to get one thing very clear: did he mean that there was no money for the farmers or no money for anybody, farmers or workers? He said there was no money for anybody. I said: "Very well; in those circumstances, I shall accept the present price of beet for the coming year, on condition that you sign an agreement with me that any increase you give your workers in the next 12 months will also be given to the farmers."

And all this leads to what?

It leads up to the present position of agriculture. Twelve months ago General Costello came along and said: "You caught me out." I said: "Yes, for how much?" The amount was 8/9d per ton. That represented the £1 per week that was given to the workers. He did not give it until the 1st June and said that, therefore, something should come off. The amount that came off was 2/1d per ton and every beetgrower who grew beet for last season got an extra cheque for 6/8d per ton to make up for the increase of £1 per week that the workers got.

I am taking only one commodity as an example. If you find that £1 a week to the workers means a difference of 8/9d a ton to the farmers that is what is wrong with agriculture in this country. Agriculture and the price of agricultural products have not kept step with the increase in wages to industrial workers and the cost of living. That is the present position. As a matter of fact, my organisation were more than anxious two years ago to have set up, under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, a farmers' consultative council that would advise the Minister as regards prices and everything else. The present Minister set that up a few months ago. He invited the three, as he called them, major bodies to take part in it. The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers came in and were satisfied. The Beet Growers Association unanimously appointed two representatives. The National Farmers Association, first of all, attacked the Minister for daring to give the two commodity organisations mentioned, the Beet Growers Association or the Creamery Milk Suppliers two representatives each while they were only getting two representatives.

The people who talk about unity in the farming community endeavour by sabotage and threats to drive every other farmers' organisation out of existence. What did they want? They wanted themselves to be the only negotiating body to negotiate on the price of our agricultural products in this country and that when they were negotiating the price of milk going to the creameries the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, with their permission, would be allowed in as observers. That is why they remained out. Those are the people who endeavour to wipe out a commodity organisation of farmers who have done their work for the agricultural community for over 34 years. They try to wipe us out because we would not withdraw our two representatives from the National Agricultural Council set up by the Minister. They tried to drive us out whilst at the same time, they have two Government-appointed nominees of theirs, Mr. Mullen and Mr. Orpen. They are Government representatives on both grounds. They have Mr. Finnegan, I think his name is, another leader of their Party a Government-appointed representative on Nitrigin Éireann. They have Mr. Delahunty on the Pigs and Bacon Commission and they have another gentleman as their representative on An Bord Bainne. All those men are loyally co-operating with the Government they are pretending to have no co-operation with.

I would, if I were to ask as an organisation that another farmers' organisation withdraw their representatives, certainly withdraw my own representatives from the Government body. They have not done that. They are still there. Those are the conditions and that is the position. We did our utmost as far as any organisation could go to end this dispute. I was one of four men appointed, the four chairmen of our four boards, by our organisation to mediate in an endeavour to settle it. We went. I said that the first thing to do was to prevent the fire from spreading and that we would go to the Minister for Justice first. We went to the Minister for Justice. We said: "We are mediating on this thing and we hope to get some kind of agreement and settlement on it. We ask you to hold your hand." He said: "Look, you are mediating on this. If I can get any kind of guarantee that they will stop their illegal operations, I will do my best to meet you." I said: "What about stopping the arrests?" He said: "Good enough." He called up there and then and he stopped all the arrests. I then said: "What about a package deal? Throw them all out. What will you take for the bunch?"

The Person in Question.

I offered £100 from the Beet Growers Association in full settlement of all fines, complaints and threatened fines to end the dispute. I came down to our chairman, who is treasurer of the County Laois National Farmers Association, Mr. John Phelan, and I said to him: "Do your best now." He went to Mr. Deasy. Mr. Deasy said he wanted no interference. He said the worst which could be done in this was to secure the release of the men, that he wanted them in jail. That is what you are dealing with and that is the position.

A fortnight after this we had a joint meeting of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association and the four chairmen of the Beet Growers Association. We both approached the National Farmers Association before we decided to go to any Minister to see if anything could be done. They said they wanted no mediation. I believe, whilst they were doing that, they had another Fianna Fáil Deputy taking Mr. Jim Mullins on the back road to the Minister for Justice. However, those are the facts as far as I know them. I appeal to the Minister if there is any way out of this to take it before any tragedy occurs. You cannot have four or five gentlemen touring by night and going into an unfortunate farmer's house with a docket and saying: "Look, put your name to that, Mary."

"Show your leg to the countryman."

Or with a farmer coming out with a shotgun and letting fly. It is then everything will be settled.

This is our Irish Vietnam.

We fought the Blueshirts before and we beat them, and they came to our respected Member, Deputy William Kent of Castlelyons, God rest his soul. He sat where Deputy Corish is sitting now.

Was he in the Labour Party?

He was not. I do not know where you were sitting at the time but he sat there for two years all alone and the McDermots and the Dillons were shadow Ministers for the shadows.

A Deputy

Ghost Ministers for the ghosts.

When Deputy T.F. O'Higgins spoke I suggested that he should have a couple of reams from Deputy Cosgrave's speech and his attack on Deputy O.J. Flanagan—the poor man, I did not see him in the House since. I should like to have a look at that and see how far it was in support of the NFA activities. I do not wish to deal further with this, Sir. You would not have heard it at all but for Deputy T.F. O'Higgins. I did not intend to mention this matter but I could not allow Deputy T.F. O'Higgins get away with the statement and the attack he made here.

I can say, Sir, and I am proud to say, that for 33 years, odd, I have been a member of the Irish Sugar Beet Growers Association and I never allowed politics into discussions, even a mention of politics. I picked my team for any negotiations without favour. If we wanted to use politics they could have been used and the only reason they could have been used was this. When that industry was started in Mallow the Fine Gael organisation came out travelling around to the farmers' houses and they took the contracts that had been signed for the beet and burned them.

Who started the factories?

They burned them.

It was not Martin Corry.

I am not talking about what you had in Carlow; I am talking about the factories. The Deputy knows nothing about them. We had to go around then and the result was that in the Mallow area beet was only grown by Fianna Fáil farmers.

I heard a commentary today by Deputy M.P. Murphy. I never cared for politics. We had a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman, Mr. John Phelan, County Treasurer of the NFA. To appoint a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman was the natural thing to do at that time. The Chairman was Mr. Phelan and the Vice-Chairman Mr. Bob Lahiffe. Those two were appointed unanimously by the council of 15. Deputy M.P. Murphy alluded here today to the political nature of the NAC. I should like to remind Deputy M.P. Murphy that for six long years, the former Deputy Lehane sat side by side with him as a member of the inter-Party Government. I should also like to remind Deputy M.P. Murphy, however, that the former Deputy Lehane is secretary of the Farmers Union of Cork County and there are at least seven members elected on Cork County Council.

I know because Deputy Lehane fought three general elections against me in my time. Surely you cannot brand Deputy Lehane with a political brand; if you can, what brand would you give him? You would hardly call him Fianna Fáil when you consider the number of times he walked around the lobbies here against them.

A sort of Government independent. We had many of those for ten or 15 years.

For three years he supported Deputy Corish and the inter-Party Government.

That is why I call him a Government independent.

It was the farmers Party. That was the third Farmers Party.

Is there not something else to be discussed on the Estimate?

I am saying that the NAC is not political.

The Deputy has dealt with that and I feel that he should deal with something else.

I do not think that there is any man in this House, to whatever Party he belongs and I do not care what his affiliations are, who was not happy and felt proud to see General Costello appointed to that council. General Costello is one man who not alone——

How does General Costello come into this Estimate?

He was one of the politicians, Sir, to whom Deputy M.P. Murphy, your colleague, alluded here today.

Surely we are not going to discuss the life history of all the members?

When an allegation is made in this House we are allowed to contradict it if necessary.

The Deputy has contradicted a lot in the last half an hour.

I will contradict no more. Deputy T.F. O'Higgins said here that we got them off the steps for the by-election but on the week of the two by-elections in Waterford and Kerry, the boys had moved back on the steps to lend their spiritual aid, or their moral support, to the Fine Gael Party.

The Deputy managed to get them off it.

Anyway, we did not beat one of you; we beat the two of you.

To get down to the Estimate proper, I should like to start by supporting Deputy M.P. Murphy's request for a bacon factory in West Cork—not my constituency—but where you have 11 per cent of the total pig population reared and fattened they are entitled, surely, not to have to pay CIE transport at £1 per head of every pig dragged from Bantry to Cork.

Single journey!

It is a pretty stiff journey and if you were paying CIE for it you would know what it cost. One thing we cannot afford in this country is to have a factory too far from the production point. I certainly believe that Deputy M.P. Murphy is right in putting forward their claims in that respect.

I would ask the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries very earnestly to grant either some subsidy on sprays for weeds or ensure that the price is brought within a reasonable limit. Sprays cost £7 14s 0d an acre—a pretty hefty sum. Band spraying, spraying both sides of the drill of beet, a distance of three inches on each side, costs £2 5s 0d an acre. Then, with those costs, people wonder why farmers are looking for increased prices. Those are increased bills and, unfortunately, in the kind of weather we have been getting for the past fortnight I have seen fields of barley which had to be sprayed three times. You had a spray just finished when there was a thunder shower and the spray disappeared; it was of no use at all; you had to spray it again. I would suggest to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries—if he proposes giving any assistance to the ordinary working and tillage farmer in this country—that he give it in the line of relieving the expenditure of those farmers. I do not know how the price of spray is made up, to be quite honest, but I think that 28/- for a lb of spray is something the Prices Commission should have a look at. I do not know how they arrive at the price or anything else about it but I do know that is the price of it to the farmer. If the Minister did that it would be something which would increase production, while keeping our costs down.

We hear complaints here about the price of cattle. I told the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries—Deputy Haughey—last year not to give any kind of a guarantee on the price of cattle because I felt no Minister could. It is beyond the power of any Minister to forecast the price of cattle for even three months in this country. It cannot be done. I remember being at a fair along with Deputy Dillon in Kilkenny a few years ago after he advised the farmers that if they had cattle to hold on to them because the price would be better in a few months. That was when Deputy Dillon was sitting over there where Deputy Carty is now sitting. That was Deputy Dillon's statement when I met him down at that fair. It was a bad fair and people were going up through the fair driving their cattle home and so on. I saw the Minister for Agriculture, as he was then, standing over on the footpath complete with his cigarette holder, cigarette and all, and I said: "A bad fair, lads." They answered "Devil a worse, Sir" and then I asked "What do you think of the gent in the black hat over there who advised you to keep them?"

This is scarcely relevant.

I am merely saying that no Minister or anybody in this country can forecast the price of cattle for even three months ahead. You do not know what is happening. Take the Calved Heifer Scheme, for instance. If 50 per cent of the money is being paid for something which is happening, we will definitely have an increase of something between 100,000 and 200,000 young cattle every year. In my opinion, they are the cattle we will have to get sale for—the small cattle which the dairy farmer with nine or ten cows may have, which he has to sell at nine, ten or 15 months old, at the most. We got rid of 10,000 of them last year to Egypt, and a good sale they made— £9 10s per cwt, free on board, before the peddlers came after the rest of them.

The next thing that happened was that we succeeded in getting some 3,000 or 4,000 of them out to Italy. Those cattle were sent over like a trial lot, being tried out in the universities there. A fortnight after they had been landed, we had a big headline inThe Farmers' Journal; “Joe Keane writes from Italy.” The National Farmers' Association had sent a gentleman named Joe Keane on a double-barrel mission on his honeymoon to see those cattle that had been sent out of the country.

Deputy Corry has the wrong name this time, I think.

Mr. Joe Keane stated that the Irish cattle that went to Italy were flukey, worm-infested, lice-infested. It was there on the front page ofThe Farmers' Journal. I raised it in this House by way of Parliamentary Question. The Minister was a bit too tolerant with those gentlemen. That was the help and assistance those gentlemen gave when we were making an endeavour to get sale for those cattle abroad. That is the kind of sabotage that is being worked and I think it is high time it were stopped.

The Italian buyers who came over here saw those cattle and bought them. Every beast had to be treated for both worm and fluke before it left this country. Then we have a gentleman whose honeymoon must have gone astray on him or something with that kind of a statement. The extraordinary thing is that those people who bought those 4,000 cattle are quite happy with them and are coming for more, thank God.

That is the class of cattle that I want to see sold because we can only fatten a certain proportion here; we cannot fatten them all. If we have a glut of those small cattle it means that the 700-acre gentlemen have cheap stock to put in, the gentlemen who do not milk cows, who do not thin beet and who do not dirty their hands with agricultural work, the bullock ranchers. They have cheap cattle and if there is a glut of those cattle, they have very cheap cattle. Therefore, in my opinion, that is the class of cattle that every endeavour should be made to get out of this country and to get sale for abroad. I do not believe there will be enough sale in the British market to cover them and we must go abroad and endeavour to sell them in other markets. We got rid of 10,000 of them to Egypt last year. We sent 3,000 or 4,000 to Italy at the begining of this year as a trial lot and then we had that disgraceful comment that appeared inThe Farmers' Journal.

I can see one bright spot in so far as agriculture is concerned, that is, the joining-up of Erin Foods with Heinz. Four years ago when General Costello was travelling down in my constituency, he suggested to me that it was ideal country for vegetable growing. By putting our heads together and getting in on the one side £30,000 of farmers' money and on the other side, £30,000 from the Sugar Company and a decent grant from An Foras Tionscal, we were able to start that industry.

Tell us what grant you got.

Now, you try.

We would like to know.

You are paid for coming in here. Go and do your own work and do not be trying to get my brains to do it for you. You will not get them.

We started with 300 acres odd the first year. We went on to 750 acres last year. We are having 1,240 acres this year. It has taken so well with my working farmers in East Cork that we had offers of contracts for 2,800 acres. We paid about £65,000 to the farmers last year and we paid somewhere between £45,000 and £55,000 to labour in that little industry. As I said, we are doubling it this year and we will double it again, please God, next year. I expect, in three years' time, to have that factory processing somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 acres of vegetables for the people of East Cork with a ready market abroad for them.

That is the kind of work I would like to see the National Farmers' Association working on and co-operating in with the other farmers' organisations because that is the kind of work that will help out not alone the large farmer who goes in for peas but the smaller farmer who goes in for French beans, carrots, turnips and cabbage. In my opinion, in two or three years, Deputy Donegan will not be howling about the cost of having to buy feeding barley in Cork and transporting it up to the lazy farmers of Roscommon and Cavan and places up there and the cost of transporting it up there. He will not have to bother any more with it because peas will, in my area anyway, take the place of feeding barley. Those are the things that should be fostered and worked out.

I would say that an area very similar to mine would be County Wexford, another traditionally tillage area.

Far better altogether.

You have good tillage farmers there. They nearly broke my strike two years ago when they ran behind my back and contracted for 15,000 acres of beet.

You had better take that up with Tommy Howlin.

Facts are very stubborn things. It is undoubtedly a tillage county. If I were to pick a place for another vegetable factory tomorrow, I would pick Wexford.

We were promised it long enough anyway by the Government.

If you did what I did you would get it.

You have a great leg in with the General.

He got him sacked then.

No, General Costello was never sacked. Small fellows with small brains like you——

They are just as big as yours.

I have a kind of pity for you.

Have pity on yourself and say your prayers.

I was glad that the Minister in his statement today dealt with other matters that are not classed as agricultural products but which are agricultural products exported in a manufactured state. It is about time that was realised. For example, the products of the Midleton factory, and the processed foods from the Mallow factory, the Tuam factory and the Carlow factory, are all leaving this country in a processed state, and you will find them under the heading of exports and imports in Industry and Commerce. If you look at the increase in the subsidy on manures, you will see what Gouldings got during the past 12 months from the increased price of manures. The Minister has not filled that gap. Will it go down as a subsidy to agriculture or a subsidy to enable Gouldings to give a bigger cheque to the NFA? I do not know. Those are the facts.

Many of the subsidies we see in this book are not subsidies to agriculture but subsidies to industry. They are definite subsidies to industry. No one will convince me that if Gouldings increase the price of artificial manures by 10/- or £1 per ton, and the Minister gives us 5/- out of 10/- as a subsidy, that is a subsidy to agriculture. It is a subsidy to enable Messrs. Gouldings to increase their profits and nothing else. That is borne out in a peculiar way. Before General Costello left us, we went to get the price for superphosphates and we found that it was so juggled that if we imported superphosphates, the amount we would lose in subsidy would be exactly the same as what we would save by buying it from Gouldings.

These are hindrances to agriculture. If the people of this country are entitled to get cheap wheat from foreigners, then we are equally entitled to get our artificial manures in the cheapest markets we can find. That is one subsidy which I suggest has gone astray in this book. It should be under the heading of Industry and Commerce, and not Agriculture. There is also the subsidy on farm buildings. I suggest that the subsidy on hay barns and corrugated iron constructions of that description is actually a subsidy to Irish Steel, Limited. That is another subsidy that should be changed in this book from the heading of a subsidy to farming to a subsidy to industry. If you go through the list you will find that a large portion of the £60 million subsidy which the farmers are supposed to get is a subsidy not to agriculture but to industry.

I raised this matter in this House before and I hope that in the next book I will be looking at, I will see those items in their proper place. I suggest to the Minister that he would be doing a good job in dealing with that. I do not want to be coming in here in ten or 15 years' time——

We saw the Deputy on television.

I want it next year.

The Deputy said 19 years on television.

Time is running out.

I am only starting. There are many things we could deal with on this Estimate. Unfortunately, for a long number of years, I was like a voice crying in the wilderness when I suggested that the wage paid to agricultural labour should be brought into line with the price of industrial labour. Because that was not done, we lost the vast bulk of our agricultural labourers, and no one can blame them. If in fixing the price of milk, I were to take into consideration the fact that my workers have to work on Saturdays and Sundays—two days on which industrial workers do not have to work —and if I were to put those days down as overtime, I wonder what the price would be. The same applies to other agricultural products where agricultural workers, be they farmers or labourers, have different conditions. Many of them crop up from time to time.

I have nine agricultural labourers' cottages within 100 yards of my house. Thirty years ago they held nine agricultural labourers who worked on the land. Today they hold no agricultural labourers, working on the land. To be honest about it, I thank God for that, not for the fact that they are not working on the land but for the fact that we were able to find industrial employment for them and give them work. Out of those nine cottages there are 17 men going to work every morning. Thank God, they got the chance to purchase those cottages and they are now quite happy. Men walk into me on a Sunday. "Martin," they say, "give us a letter for the Steel or to Deputy Fitzpatrick's friend, the Verolme Dockyard."

They did not appear on TV.

I give it to them and they go off to work at a minimum of £13 a week and from that up to £25 or £26 for a five-day week. Does anybody think those boys would be idiots enough to come in to plough or milk cows or crown beet for Martin Corry when they get that wage for a five-day week in industry? It means one cannot get a skilled labourer in agriculture today. I have heard solemn statements here, day after day, week after week, about the flight from the land. I do not hear so much lately about the people flying from the rural districts. Is there anyone here who would be prepared to work a six-and-a-half or a seven-day week for 25 per cent less wages than he would get working a five-day week in industry? If there is, I should like to look at him.

These are facts, stubborn facts. They have stripped rural Ireland of its workers. We are told this is the age of machinery. It is the age of compulsory machinery, when one must get machinery or give the land up. I come from an area where 40 per cent of the land is under the plough each year. It has no resemblance to the 700-acre fellow with the dish-washer and all the rest of it. They are ordinary, honest tillage farmers, doing their work and fighting their corner to make a fair existence for themselves.

I say above board here that we have many a blessing in that stretch of country but the biggest blessing of all was General Costello and his factories. The little industry in a little rural town which will pay £60,000 or £70,000 a year for produce and another £60,000 or £70,000 a year in wages to local workers is the kind of economy we want more of. The employment in one such industry during the past 12 months has been 100. Next year it will average 200 and in the year after, please God, it will be 400 or 450. That is a small industry which that man organised out of his own brain and brought to fruition. And they say he is not worthy to sit with General Deasy on the NAC. What are we coming to? Where are we going? General Costello is the man who pulled four beet factories practically from the scrapheap to full production; he is the man responsible for building up those food factories throughout the country. And we are told he should not be allowed in to where Mr. Deasy and the fellows with the dishwashers are sitting.

These are the things we must apply our commonsense to and get to work on. I would rather have one hour of General Costello's advice on any matter of agriculture than the whole box and dice of all the agricultural organisations put together, and I think I would be wise. There are a lot of other matters I should like to deal with but I am getting hoarse. I think I have said enough tonight.

Deputy Corry has given us a lot of valuable information during the past hour or so. I never thought he was the father of the NAC. I understood it was the Minister for Agriculture who established the Council but Deputy Corry has informed us tonight that it is his brainchild, that he has been plugging in his own Party for this type of consultative council for many years. He made a lot of contradictory statements which I shall not bother to comment on. I shall keep to the Estimate.

The Estimate as I see it is not very exciting. The extra amount of money for aids to agriculture in the coming year is not very exciting. The amount of £40,370,000 for 1967/68 shows an increase of about £4½ million but we must not lose sight of the fact that during the past few years the Estimate for the Civil Service has been increased from £19 million to £30 million. With wages and production costs rising steeply, is it not right and just that there should be a big increase in the Estimate for Agriculture? I disagree with Deputy Corry who said that a lot of the money in this Estimate goes to the aid of agriculture. Some of it goes to industry, as Deputy Corry admitted.

The Minister said there was an increase in milk production and dairy produce and he added that this was the cause of increased grants this year. I noted in a Sunday newspaper recently a report that there was an expanding market for milk and milk products but I also noted that the market for dried milk is dropping. It has dropped by some thousands of pounds according to some estimates published in the newspapers during the past few days.

One important matter I wish to draw the Minister's attention to is the position of our poultry and egg production. The only type of poultry production of any advantage to the people today is the broiler industry. That industry seems to be able to survive because of the large volume of support on the home market. I was amazed to discover recently that we are importing liquid eggs. The Minister should look into this. Egg production on a commercial basis here for the past few years has been completely uneconomic. Today you cannot produce eggs and sell them at 1/6d to 1/10d per dozen. The reason given for the grant of an import licence for liquid eggs was that it was in respect of a confectionery business for the manufacture of cakes and pastries for export. If we have to produce eggs for as little as 1/6d or 1/8d per dozen in the peak periods of the year, we should be able to produce sufficient eggs to keep that factory in production all the year round. Nowadays, with deep freeze and storage facilities, I cannot see any reason why we would not be able to do that. We have seen on the television and read in the papers of the nine million eggs going into cakes by a certain firm. I was amazed when I discovered that these eggs were not coming from the Irish farmer and that many of them were coming from Northern Ireland. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to remind the Minister to have a serious look at this because I feel it is a matter about which we should be able to do something.

Much has been said recently about our pigs and bacon. The number of pigs has dropped considerably in the past two or three years. The reason for this was the very low price for bonhams and the inadequate price for fattening pigs. The small man who used to feed two or four pigs had to go out of business because the profit was too low. Therefore, it was left to the farmer with the big herd, the man who could fatten 100 pigs. If he was able to get £1 apiece profit after three to four months feeding, he would be able to carry on. But the small man had to go out of production.

There should be some subsidy for pig feed. If we cannot increase the price, we will have to subsidise a balanced ration for the production of bacon pigs. It is too bad, now that the price of bacon on the British market seems to be improving and our grades have been stepped up, that we may not have sufficient bacon in the near future to fill our quota on the British market and to supply the home market. It has happened in the past few months that pigs were smuggled into this country because we had not enough for our home market.

For some years back the trend was all towards the Landrace breed of pig. Nobody wanted to buy a pig to fatten if it was not a Landrace pig. Now I notice at the pig fairs and marts in my part of the country that that trend has changed and they have gone back now to the Large White Landrace Cross. I think they have discovered that, properly fed and properly handled, it is a better bacon pig.

I sincerely hope the Minister will be able to do something to eliminate the problem about the price of the finished article and the price of pig feed. I remember 20 years ago, when the small farmers around me kept a couple of sows, they always sold the bonhams. At that time they could get £5 each for them at eight to nine weeks, and in those days you could buy one cwt of meal for about 16/-or 17/-. Today you sell bonhams for anything from £5 10s to £6 10s and the price per cwt of pig feed is in the region of £2, and if you go in for the baby pig feed, it is over £2. That is something that needs to be looked into. I have a feeling that the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who control the feed assembly industry in this country, would be able to secure some kind of justice for the men who work so hard to feed pigs and produce bacon. The feed assemblers are getting exorbitant profits. There is a loss somewhere, and it is not exactly the high price of barley, as we have been told.

Deputy Corry referred to the heifer scheme and said it had been a very beneficial exercise for the Government to indulge in, but he went on to say that he thought at the time, and apparently still thinks, something I thought at the time and said, as can be seen from the records of this House. It is that the £15 per head for the additional heifer was going to benefit the big man and that the small farmer would get little, if anything, out of it. That is exactly what happened. The big farmer who could feed 50 to 100 heifers, instead of feeding bullocks, drew the subsidy. He flooded the market with store cattle and it left the small man in the position that, when he produced his few cattle for sale at the end of the year, one and a half or two year olds, the big man was not a customer any more because he had enough of his own. This tended to put on the market a large number of these young cattle without any buyers for them.

Deputy Corry also said we exported 10,000 of these animals last year at a very good price. Granted it was not the price he was complaining about, but about somebody on his honeymoon in Italy who discovered something terribly wrong with our cattle over there. However, that is not the point I want to make. He said they were sold at remunerative prices. I have seen many of them and the price they were sold at when they were about one and a half years was in the region of £9 per cwt. But these cattle weighed only three cwt or three and a quarter cwt. That was a very small sum of money for what we would term the finished product. We were finished with them in any case; they were going for export. Each beast had cost a subsidy of £15 and it was maintained in this country for a year and a half. That is not the type of cattle we want to export. The type of beast we want to export is a beast that is almost ready for slaughter. That is the only type of best that it is economic for this country to export and on which the farmer can make a profit.

The reason I refer to this matter is that we have heard a great deal recently about ordered marketing of our produce. In fairness to the Department, I should say that they went a long way to try to improve the marketing of dairy produce in England and other places and they are meeting with some success. However, the Government should have done something at the time the £15 subsidy was introduced in order to increase the number of cattle in the country to ensure that there would be a market for the increased cattle.

For the past year and a half the NFA have been pressing for the establistment of a meat marketing board. I do not think there would be anything wrong in having such a board. It would provide a system of ordered marketing and it would not mean that the dead meat export trade would be put in the hands of a few people. Producer members, exporters and representatives of the Department of Agriculture would be the people to man such a board. With that type of personnel I do not think any board could go too far wrong.

The trouble in this country is that when boards are established the producer members are crowded out. That is a pity. Civil servants of the Department of Agriculture and persons engaged in a big way in the trade are appointed, to the detriment of the producer members. A number of producer members should be appointed to all such boards and the boards should explore markets for dead meat in European countries. I know that that exploration has been taking place and that at the moment we are experiencing a bit of bother in continental countries. It is sincerely hoped that that will right itself in time.

I should like to comment on the dispute between the Department and the Minister and the National Farmers Association. A great deal has been said inside and outside the House about that matter. The position is a very serious one. I should be very glad if anything could be done at this stage to bring about negotiations between the parties because any dispute like this that continues for too long does not do anybody any good. Production will suffer. While there are decent respectable farmers in jail who could not be classified as criminals, there are upsets in the home and on the farm and production is bound to suffer and there will be high feeling between neighbours and between the Department and their advisers.

I notice from a report in the papers within the past day or two that our agricultural advisers have been asked by circular from the Minister for Agriculture to notify any cases of intimidation. I do not know whether that is true or not but I read it in a paper this very evening. If that is the position and if things are coming to that pass, it is really too bad.

If I may intervene, I should like to say that it is not true. What has been asked is that if people cannot send their milk which they have produced through their own labour to a creamery, the Department then be notified.

The advisory service.

By the local agricultural inspector—that is the point Deputy Farrelly is making.

By the staff there to serve the farming community. Unfortunately, too much has been taken for granted as regards the liberalities that might appertain to the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal." You can steal a person's character and you are doing just as much injustice. You can steal his hard-won effort and work and production and you are doing him an injustice. It does not necessarily mean that you have to hold a person up at the point of a gun and steal the money out of his pocket. You can also take his produce from him.

I am making this point because I read it in the paper. If it is true, it is really too bad. I have been a member of the County Meath Committee of Agriculture for the past ten or 12 years. We have a very fine staff of advisory officers, as fine a staff as one could get in any county in Ireland.

Representatives of the Department itself.

Yes. We got it very hard in certain areas in Meath, especially in the poorer parts and in the case of the poorer farmers, to get farmers to accept the advisory service, to invite the advisory officer in and to take his advice. Over the years we have fairly well succeeded in doing that and I should not like it if at this stage any ill-feeling should arise between the farmers and the advisory officers through any action of the Department of Agriculture. That is the only point I want to make. I sincerely hope that the Parliamentary Secretary is right when he says the statement is wrong. Nevertheless, I read it in the paper.

The advisory officers of county committees of agriculture are not involved.

They are not involved. The Department's staff have been asked to protect the interests of ordinary producers.

Nobody asked me and I am a member of a committee of agriculture. I want to say that if there is anything that I could do to help to bring about negotiations between the NFA and the Minister for Agriculture I would be quite willing to do it and I would stay up all night to do it.

It is fitting that I, as one of the city Deputies, would say at least a few words on behalf of one of the most important sections of the community, the consuming public. Listening to the inflammatory speeches here this evening, it struck me that members of the Opposition, rather than desiring to see the dispute terminated, tended to inflame the situation still further by the commission of character assassination in relation to the former Minister and the present Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries.

In relation to this dispute which has been in existence for some time, it has been made perfectly clear by the Taoiseach and by the Minister for Agriculture the terms on which a just settlement can be made, the terms on which the NFA can meet the Minister. The Minister has indicated on many occasions that he is only too willing and anxious to have the views and the assistance of the NFA together with the other farming organisations in relation to the various problems that arise from time to time in the development of our agricultural programme and policy. It would seem that the NFA by persisting in their action and in their refusal to associate with other members of the farming community are doing a great disservice to a very large section of that community and to themselves in the long run. In that organisation there are men of outstanding ability, men of substance, who have good ideas, and it is a pity to see the dispute being prolonged and the ideas lost at a stage when everyone believes it is essential that we get together on every occasion possible and have a full discussion on agricultural problems.

It is quite clear to this organisation, as it has been clear to other organisations, that they themselves can terminate the dispute tomorrow if they are prepared to obey the law as is required of all citizens of the State. There can be no exceptions to this. Listening to the speeches here tonight, one would gather that there should be one law to apply to the people living in the cities and elsewhere and another to those engaged in the NFA campaign, that the regulations in respect of offences that have been committed should be relaxed in favour of these people. They should realise that the decisions of the court must be upheld. It would seem there are sections of the House who on occasions want to see the law upheld and on other occasions feel, for political reasons, that it is wise to say that certain sections of the community should be allowed to do as they choose.

In relation to the recent produce strike, as a Dublin Deputy, I feel that strike hurt no one but the housewives and little children in our city, the housewives who were forced to pay high prices for farm produce and who in some cases, when their money was expended at the end of the week, were deprived of the necessaries of life because many of the items were unobtainable. I deplore this action and I ask the Government to ensure that, where there is an effort to deprive the people of the necessaries of life such as happened in the not too distant past, the supply lines will be kept open. This was probably only the second occasion in the history of the country that food was turned back; the previous occasion was during the Famine. On this occasion it was turned back by people who said that rather than allow those who were attempting to deliver it to give it to the people who required it, it should be pushed down their throats. We have a duty here to ensure that the housewives of this city, who pay a great proportion of the taxes that go to meet the subsidies the farmers get, will get the foodstuffs they require.

This very important section of the community, the housewives, have to pay the highest possible prices for the commodities they need. It is regrettable that there is a group of middlemen who are virtually robbing the housewives of this city. These middlemen take no part whatsoever in the production of these commodities. They can sit back in their office armchairs up to their ankles in carpet and, far removed from the scene of activity, they can, by their methods of distribution, direct vast sums into their pockets at the expense of the housewife. All this money could be diverted to the farmers and mean a saving to the housewives if there were marketing facilities which are not there at the moment. In addition to that, the housewives are the victims of suspect distribution groups or rings in this city handling farm produce.

The Minister will have to take a serious look at the situation in relation to Dublin city. We have heard a great deal of talk about what should be done for the producer, but there is also the consumer without whom the producers would be out of business. This is a section that has been overlooked. I have not heard one Deputy speak of the consumers in this city or in any other city, Cork and elsewhere, although in other cities they are not as badly placed as we are in regard to marketing. We are so far removed that we here in Dublin have to pay higher prices in order to meet the requirements imposed by the rings, cartels and the various groups that control the supply of potatoes and other essential commodities.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 1st June, 1967.