asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if he is aware that a farmer can be denied the benefit of the new beef incentive scheme if his wife sells some butter to his neighbours or employees, or sells surplus cream in the summertime to them or to a local shop, and if in view of this he will consider making appropriate alterations in the scheme.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Beef Incentive Scheme.
It is a fundamental condition of the beef cattle incentive scheme that herdowners who sell milk or milk products off the farm cannot get grants. I regard this as most important and I do not propose to amend the scheme in the way suggested by the Deputy.
Arising out of the Minister's reply did I hear him to say that if some individual sold milk on a part-time basis largely to an individual who needed it, say in a town occasionally, that this would disqualify him from taking part in this scheme?
May I take it so that anyone who sells milk at any time for any length of time does not qualify for this scheme?
That is right.
Let us clarify this as I believe misunderstanding may arise. The Minister has experience, as I have, of living in the country. If a neighbour comes around, is short of milk, asks for a jug of milk and the other neighbour obliges him, I take it if some busybody writes up to the Minister and says: "Mary McFadden sold a jug of milk" that Mary McElligott will be told to take a running jump at her-self? It is only where a person habitually holds himself as a supplier as a last resort for milk products that he would be deemed to be selling milk or milk products off the land.
The Deputy can take it that it is not any part of my intention that the old-established custom of obligement between neighbours should in any way be interfered with by this or any other scheme.
We sometimes pass laws in Dáil Éireann and some exceptional case of this kind arises and the Minister finds there is no discretion reserved to him and he is bound by the law to do that which he himself knows is contrary to the spirit of what this House desires. I take it the Minister has discretion to say: "That is not the sale of milk, butter or milk products within the meaning of the Act"?
If milk is not sold it is not sold and I certainly will not try to make it a sale if it is not a sale.
Would the Minister say if this in any way affects the supply by sale of milk to farm workers by farmers. While the milk is supplied to them it is contained in the agricultural wages as part of their wages. Is there any danger that this is likely to complicate matters?
What I would suggest is that the Deputy or anybody else concerned with this should not describe it as in any way selling milk.
The trouble is that the Minister's Department have a number of officials who would be very quick to pick on little things like this if they are not dealt with in time.
It is not the officials, it is the Attorney General.
You can leave all this safely with the Minister.
The one sure way to have those things picked on is to raise them as points here. They do not really make a great deal of sense. We are not out to stop any practice which is not, in fact, selling. If it is not a sales transaction then it does not come within this.
The trouble about it is it would be too late to do anything about it afterwards.
It is too soon now.
It is never too soon.
I feel a person who is not allowed a subsidy for the first two animals should be allowed, especially in the summertime, to take part in some sort of scheme. If you hold strictly to the regulations then you should pay a subsidy on the full number of cows the person has and not deduct the first two animals from the subsidy scheme.
I have no doubt, if that were so, that the yield of those particular two cows which did not come within this scheme would be all-time records in all cases.
I doubt it.