Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Friday, 3 Dec 1971

Vol. 257 No. 7

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

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That the Vote be referred back for reconsideration.
—(Deputy Creed).

I should like to deal with an aspect of agricultural policy which is probably causing the greatest concern in my constituency of Meath, that is, the operation of the brucellosis eradication scheme. This matter has been raised before in the House. In fact, over the past year I have been consistently requesting the Minister to raise the upper limit of compensation to farmers for reactors under the scheme. The limit was originally set at a very low figure and it was only after consistent pressure that it was gradually raised, first, to £120 and then to £140. The point is that a maximum of £140 payable in respect of an animal that is taken away by reason of being a reactor may compensate the farmer for the loss of the capital asset represented by the cow but does not compensate him for the loss of income derivable from the cow that is allowed to remain on the farm. Under the regulations at present in operation, the farmer may not replace that cow until he has a completely free herd. Therefore, not only does the farmer lose the capital value of the cow, for which he is compensated to an extent, but he loses income. This is having a very severe effect, particularly on liquid milk producers in my constituency who rely on the regular milk cheque to provide the immediate needs of the family and a reserve for investment for the future. It is unfortunate that in some cases the living expenses of the family are such that there is nothing left for investment for the future. Most of the farmers concerned find themselves in the position that they are entering the EEC, where undoubtedly there are great opportunities for livestock production, without the reserves which would allow them to make the investment necessary if they are to take advantage of these opportunities.

The Minister should consider introducing legislation to provide for reparation to farmers who lose income in this way. It would not be sufficient merely to change the regulations in relation to the buying in of new stock prior to complete clearance or maintaining cows in production and not destroying reactors until the end of the lactation period because producers have been driven out of milk production. A liquid milk producer told me last night that he had 12 cows which were milking at the time of the test and were found to be reactors. There were some cattle on the farm who were not reactors but they were dry at the time. Therefore, there was no possibility for that farmer to produce milk after the test had been carried out and the animals had been taken away. As a result, he had to cancel a milk contract and has been driven out of milk production.

The changes the Minister is suggesting, and which I suggested to him initially, will be of no benefit to this man who has been put out of milk production and has already lost his income. The fact that he would be allowed to buy in stock and to main-tain his animals until the end of the lactation period is of no value to him nor is it of value to allow him to buy new stock in view of the fact that he is already out of milk production. Special measures are required in such cases.

The Minister should consider as a matter of urgency the introduction of legislation to make reparation for the severe loss of income involved in cases such as I have referred to. I would emphasise that what I am advocating would not be a social measure for the purpose of helping people in misfortune, although it would be justified on those grounds alone, but it would be a sound economic measure because, if the producers do not have the necessary income to invest for the future so that they may expand their enterprise, their production will be lost to the nation and they will not be in a position to take advantage of the opportunities which, it is common case on both sides, exist in a situation of EEC membership.

I have advocated — I think this has also been advocated by farming organisations — certain changes in the operation of the scheme but I would emphasise that these will be no use to those who have been driven out of production and something special must be done for them. There are two steps the Minister could take: he could allow farmers to stock up with new animals before they have received complete clearance under the scheme. A possible way of meeting the situation would be to ensure that they buy in only vaccinated animals. In that way they could replace their animals immediately without waiting until they have achieved complete clearance. Another point, and the Minister is sympathetic in this, is that cows should be allowed to continue in production, even though they are reactors, until the end of lactation so that farmers will have continuity of supply. These possibilities have, perhaps, a slightly greater danger in terms of risk of infection to other animals, but it has been put to me by people with considerable veterinary experience that the only time at which there is a real danger of the disease spreading is at the time of calving. If isolation and proper hygiene are introduced and the animals are segregated at the time of calving, then the introduction of other animals will not be a problem.

Compensation is paid for reactors and the limit for non-pedigree animals is now £140. I have repeatedly advocated that there should be no limit at all. The Minister should have sufficient trust in his own valuers to allow them to make whatever valuation they think correct. The Minister should be prepared to trust the competence of his valuers and their ability to assess the worth of an animal. Putting an upward limit on looks as if the Minister does not trust the competence of his valuers. He puts on a ceiling. This is entirely wrong. In the mart in Ashbourne two days ago non-pedigree cows were making up to £200. Yet, the upper limit fixed by the Minister for compensation is £140.

We are on a rising market where cows are concerned. Prices are going up all the time. The compensation limit is lagging behind prices. In a month or two I am quite certain the Minister will have to raise the limit, but the limit will still be behind market prices for cows. There should be no limit at all. I do not believe the extra money involved in having no limit would be all that much. I have con-fidence in the competence of the Department's valuers and I do not believe they would put an unrealistic value on animals. They will give the farmer what the animal is worth.

I fully support the brucellosis eradication scheme and the farmers in my constituency, even though they are hit so hard by the scheme, support it. They recognise that, since Britain will be introducing a scheme of eradication in the not too distant future, there will be certain areas in Britain closed to our cattle unless the cattle are brucellosis free. That would have severe repercussions if we did not have a sufficient number of brucellosis free cattle to put into these areas. It is, therefore, very important that we should press ahead with this scheme but at, I hope a pace which will not deprive farmers of the necessary funds for investment in the future.

Another suggestion I think worthy of consideration — I do not make it with any authority — is the introduction of a compulsory vaccination scheme. A vaccination scheme on a voluntary basis is in operation in areas outside the clearance areas. This scheme obviously will soften the blow in those areas when the clearance area is extended and the slaughter policy is introduced. Would it, I wonder, be wise to have a compulsory vaccination scheme in those areas to ensure that the job is done thoroughly? This is an infectious disease and all that is required is for one or two farmers not to bother getting their animals vaccinated to make their herds a source of infection to others. Compulsory vaccination would eliminate this risk. There might be objections to this. I do not know.

Criticism of the method of picking clearance areas has been voiced by the NFA. The argument is that the supply areas should be dealt with first. Meath is an area into which cattle come in large numbers from areas which are not as yet clearance areas and there is a constant danger of brucellosis infected animals coming in. Naturally, this interferes with the operation of the scheme in the area. In the case of tuberculosis eradication the supply areas were done first and the scheme was extended to the other areas.

I have been on record at some stage urging the Minister to give Meath priority. I was wrong in that. It would, I think, lower the cost to the Exchequer and the cost to the farmers if this scheme were operated on the same basis of priority as the tuberculosis eradication scheme, namely, taking the supply areas first and then moving across to the areas where there was generally a net import of animals. When I mention compulsory vaccination what I have in mind as the vaccinate is not strain 19 which does show up on the tests but 42.20 which does not.

Since the turn of the century we have been spending money on sheep scab eradication. This money has come from county committees of agriculture and from county councils who have provided sheep dipping facilities. Despite this long and continuing expenditure, although the scheme is deemed to be an eradication scheme, we have not moved towards eradication. I wonder if it is possible to introduce some sort of clearance operation similar to the tuberculosis scheme for sheep scab. I have advocated the introduction of such a scheme in this House before because it is only if supply areas are cleared before moving forward to other areas that we shall get to the root of the problem. Something needs to be done not only from a veterinary point of view but from the point of view of the Department's own funds because money is being spent on sheep scab eradication and we are getting nowhere.

Having dealt with the matters which I consider to be of most importance to my own constituency, I should like now to make some general observations in relation to this Estimate and to agricultural policy. In common with Members on all sides of the House, I welcome the increases in State support announced by the Minister in his Estimate speech. There is a danger that people in urban areas will feel that farmers are getting some benefits which other sectors of the community are not getting but this would be a false impression. An extra injection of capital for income, which turns itself into capital in the farming community, because the income which the farmer earns is the source from which he can make his investment, subsequently flows over in terms of benefits to the rest of the community as well.

It is generally recognised that agriculture makes the biggest single contribution to our balance of payments. A far larger proportion of agricultural produce than of industrial products is exported. If we cannot expand our agricultural exports we are going to be in severe balance of payments difficulties and avoiding that is the first benefit to the community. The second benefit is that there is an increasing tendency at the moment to develop the processing of food because consumers want food cut into neat little pieces for cooking purposes. They also want it prepacked and pre-cooked in some cases. We should aim at creating processing industries to do this work here. The more agricultural produce we produce the more potential there will be for the development of processing facilities for those goods here. It has been estimated that the increase in agricultural produce as a result of increased agricultural prices in the EEC will create many new jobs in the processing industries in places like the meat factory in Grand Canal Street, Dublin. This is another benefit which flows over to the urban community from increased agricultural production. The third benefit is that in rural areas a prosperous farming community is the cement of the community. It is important for shopkeepers and others who benefit from the spending of the farming community that there should be a healthy farming community.

Farmers do not like to see increases in food prices any more than anybody else whether they come as a result of Government policy or as a result of membership of the EEC. It is important to recognise, however, that over the past 20 years the farmer has not been the biggest offender in terms of increases in the cost of living which have taken place. Since 1953 consumer goods in general, which must be bought by the farmer himself in the course of his daily life, have gone up by 105 per cent in price and food prices have gone up by 89 per cent. The price paid to the farmer for his produce has only gone up by 47 per cent.

The major contributor to inflation, far from being the farmer or the food merchant, is the Government itself. In the 12 months up to August, 1971, food prices went up by 7.6 per cent but at the same time the general price index went up by 8.8 per cent so that the trend continued last year. The Government's contribution to this increase has been disproportionately large: bus fares went up by 25 per cent, electricity went up by 15 per cent, motor tax went up by 26 per cent, rates went up by 20 per cent and, most remarkable of all, postal charges went up by 51 per cent. These figures should put in perspective what is happening in terms of inflation. All those who concentrate their fire on food as a source of inflation should bear these figures in mind. If increases in food prices result from membership of the EEC these will only be compensating the farmer for the disadvantage he has had over the past 20 years and will bring him back up to par.

Turning to the EEC there is a danger of undue pessimism in relation to the effect of the EEC on the small farmer. When Dr. Mansholt was here he addressed the Irish Grassland Association and he also held a press conference. I was not present at the press conference but I was present when he addressed the Irish Grassland Association, and certainly he did not say any of the things which he is reputed to have said about the prospects for small farmers at the press conference. I believe the figure of 2 per cent viability which has been bandied around was either not said or if said is a false interpretation of EEC policy.

Over the past 20 or 30 years Irish farmers have been experiencing artificially low food prices because we have been trading on a cheap food market. The result has been that our farmers have had to become very efficient in order to survive. Inefficiency has, in fact, been shaken out, whereas in the EEC, where there have been, relatively speaking, much higher food prices the inefficiencies which might exist there have been tolerated and allowed to continue because EEC farmers have not had to face severe competition and low profit margins that our farmers must face. As a result the structural problem in this country is not as severe as that in Europe. Therefore, measures which might be necessary in Europe where there are much more severe structural problems would not be necessary to the same extent here.

Something that is always mentioned among farming structural problems is the age structure of the rural community and we are told how old and decrepit some of our farmers are. We should get this problem into proper perspective. In the western counties 48 per cent of farmers are over 55: that does not mean they are past making an effective contribution in agriculture. In the eastern part of the country 46 per cent are over 55. It was announced by Dr. Mansholt here that in the EEC the figure is 60 per cent over 55. The problem is obviously greater in the Common Market than here and obviously proposals for structural reform will have much greater bite in them on the Continent than here. If we talk of the global figure of the amount of farmers who have to leave the land over the whole European community we must recognise that proportion does not necessarily apply here because we have a much more favourable structure of existing holdings.

In 1965, 47 per cent of our farmers had under 30 acres. I suppose life was difficult for them then but I think it is true that since then the proportion of farmers with holdings under 30 acres has decreased and is probably around 44 per cent or 45 per cent now. That figure should be compared with the European figure. In EEC at present two-thirds of the farmers, or 66 per cent against our 47 per cent, have less than 25 acres. Again, in terms of size of holding structural problems are much greater on the Continent than here. We do not have to look at EEC and the Mansholt proposals with the same degree of pessimism as our counterparts in Europe.

It should also be said in regard to Dr. Mansholt's pronouncements that he is not the EEC and what he says is not the law of EEC. He made proposals in 1968. Since then he has had to pull in his horns. The original prospect was that farmers with less than 40-60 cows were not viable. I think he is still talking in those terms but these proposals have not been accepted by the Council of Ministers. In fact, they have been turned down point blank and he has had to come back with greatly modified and revised proposals. After the event, he has told us that his original proposal was only a kite to make people think but it is a fact that he had had to pull in his horns and modify his proposals.

There are countries like France and Germany in the Council of Ministers whose Governments are elected by small farmers and they will not allow Dr. Mansholt to introduce proposals to the disadvantage of their small farmers and they have many more small farmers than we have because their farms in general are smaller. We should not, in spite of that tendency, take everything that Dr. Mansholt says as gospel because he has already been turned down on a number of occasions in respect of a number of his proposals. If we want a representative view of policy in the Community we should not only hear from Dr. Mansholt but we should also have M. Cointat, the French Agriculture Minister, and Mr. Eitl, the German Agriculture Minister, who might give us a more realistic appraisal as to how these policies are implemented in practice by their national governments. We would then probably see that the theoretical pronouncements of the EEC Commission when actually translated into practice in member States are much less rigorous than they sound on the lips of Commissioners in Brussels.

I do not want to interrupt but I regret very much the Deputy has not an audience on the Labour benches.

They will never learn. I think they are preparing their contribution. I should now like to deal in somewhat greater detail with specific issues. I have not come here to make a party speech but I tend to be somewhat critical of the Minister for Agriculture in respect of his approach to EEC. I get the impression that — I would not say he is not interested — he has not taken an interest to the extent that he should. He has allowed this matter to be dealt with almost entirely by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Hillery, who for all his qualities is not Minister for Agriculture and it is generally recognised that it is in the area of agriculture that EEC has developed to the greatest extent and it is, therefore, important that as an agricultural country we should have our Minister for Agriculture taking a much greater interest in EEC.

I do not know if the Minister has visited EEC during his term of office; I suppose he has, at least once, but he certainly does not visit it sufficiently or if so, we do not hear of it. I think he should be going to the EEC countries, going to the different capitals and examining how the existing members have adapted to EEC to a much greater extent than he has done. I do not know of any occasion in his term of office when he has gone to Europe but he must have gone there at least once or twice. He does not seem to take sufficient interest in this matter. His speeches in regard to EEC have a quality of sameness. He makes the same speech every time: he gives a sort of shopping list of the advantages for the different products but does not seem to go into detail on matters like structural reform. I hope — indeed I am confident — that he will, but he should do it before it is too late.

My specific objection to the Minister's attitude is that when he is asked a question here about how he interprets the effect of some draft proposal before the Council of Ministers he is not prepared to give any interpretation as to how it is likely to affect Irish farmers. He says that, of course, we cannot give any precise interpretation until the draft is approved. That is not a proper answer because in many cases the Minister has probably very detailed information on these draft proposals. He could, if he made the effort, go into considerable detail and work out how these draft proposals would affect Irish agriculture. At the same time, he could explain that these are not final proposals and do not necessarily represent what will be the final state of affairs. At least it would give the farming community some indication of what was likely to happen. Again, if the interpretation which the Minister found himself putting on it was an unfavourable one, it would enable him to mobilise behind the Government and himself the opinion of farmers in so far as they were opposed to the particular proposal. With farming opinion behind them, the Government negotiating position would be strengthened.

It is also important that these draft proposals should be interpreted authoritatively by the Government and that these matters should not be left to various groups of enthusiastic amateurs who undoubtedly are spending a great deal of their own free time in a patriotic effort to explain the EEC but who could not make a statement of interpretation with the same authority as the Minister could, having behind him a very large and competent Civil Service.

My specific objection in this context is the Minister's failure and that of his colleagues to explain in detail the implications of the structural reform proposals put forward by Dr. Mansholt. I shall be dealing with these revised proposals later on, but there are proposals, for instance, in the present draft which would effectively exclude part-time farmers from the EEC investment aids and, quite possibly, exclude them from national aids as well. This is not being spelt out. In fact, statements quite contrary to those made by Mansholt have been made by another member of the Government, the Minister for Lands, in favour of part-time farming. Yet the Government have not made any statement of their interpretation of the effect of the Mansholt proposals on part-time farming, and if they have any such ideas, there is no evidence of their having put them forward to the EEC with a view to getting the EEC to provide greater scope for the participation of part-time farmers.

The level of pension proposed under the structural reform proposals is something like £250 a year. If you offer a man the prospect of a pension of £250 a year or maybe a little more, he will not be satisfied with that. Again the Government have not criticised that or made any proposal to improve it. That figure might be adequate on the Continent of Europe, because the farmers there are covered by social security, whereas the farmers here are not. If they were getting £250 on the Continent it would be a supplement to a social security pension which they would be getting anyway when they retire. If such proposals are not favourable, the Government have a duty to try to get more favourable proposals and not be adopting the "wait and see" attitude and saying: "These proposals will be dealt with when we enter the EEC." The point is that the EEC is continuing to operate now although we are not a member. It is quite possible that some subtle agreement may have been reached between the various countries of the Six before we get in, that some compromise will be made—it may not be written out but it may be there in practice—and we as a new member, with the power we shall have, which will not be that great, will not be able to demand that this finely balanced compromise be upset in order to suit us. If we want to ensure that the proposals which finally result are to our liking, the time to make representations is now; the time to make representations is immediately the proposals become available in any kind of detailed form. We should not wait until we are members.

It may well be that the existing EEC, as a bloc of balanced interests, will be much more favourable to our interests, in that there are very strong farming lobbies in all the existing EEC countries. The enlarged EEC will contain Britain which has a very tiny proportion of farmers but a very strong industrial arm and will be prepared to block to a great extent proposals which are for the benefit certainly of small farmers, because British farmers are very large. It is possible that if we got proposals accepted by the Six before the extension of membership they would be more advantageous than proposals accepted by a community of ten in which Britain would have this tremendous voice which would, I should imagine, be used in opposition to our interests, not deliberately, but because our interests would diverge from those of Britain.

This argument applies also to the question of common policy for market organisation, intervention prices and so on for various products which are not at present covered. I think we have asked that no common policy be adopted in relation to mutton and lamb until we become a member of the EEC. This, to my mind, is downright foolish, because when we become a member of the EEC Britain will also be a member. I have spoken to British people, both politicians and civil servants, and my strong impression is that the British do not want a common policy for mutton or lamb at all; that there is a much better prospect in the existing Six of getting a common organisation than there would be in a community of ten, and that the British will do everything they can to block the adoption of a common policy not only from their own point of view, because they do not want an extension of the high price system for agricultural produce, but also because they will want to protect the interest of New Zealand lamb. The adoption of a common policy might mean that New Zealand lamb would be kept out or that it would be allowed in on less favourable terms than if there were no common policy. Therefore, I think that we have made a mistake in waiting instead of going ahead and putting our views before the EEC in a forceful fashion.

We have not got sufficient information in relation to the negotiations that are taking place in relation to animal health. This is a very technical question and it is quite probable that neither the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries nor the Minister for Foreign Affairs understand what it is all about. Veterinary questions are very difficult for Deputies on either side of this House, with the possible exception of one or two who are veterinary surgeons. At the same time, we should be at least prepared to explain the attitudes which are being adopted by the other applicant countries. I asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs here only this week what was the position being adopted by the other applicant countries in relation to animal health, so that we could compare our needs and our negotiating position with theirs, and so that we could see the field in which there could be co-operation, the divergence of interests, and thus be able as a country to assess our potential in this matter. He did not give us the information. Either he did not know what the negotiating position of the other countries was, in which case he is not a good Minister, or he was not prepared to tell the House in which case he was not being frank with the country. It does not reflect, in either case, very well on him.

There is a definite need for us to look ahead in relation to the EEC at this stage, not to take literally what exists at present or what will be the policy when we are members. We must foresee the problems and make our views known now before alliances are drawn up in the EEC which might be to our detriment. I should like to alert the Government to a point made by Dr. Mansholt. He is not the EEC but we should be alert to his opinions all the same so that we can forestall them if they are not in our favour. In an article in the European Community Magazine for November, 1970, Dr. Mansholt says:

Again, the producers themselves may be called upon to part finance the support and guarantees through farmers' unions.

The present position is that the support prices and guarantee systems are financed by the common fund. The larger contributions to the common fund come from the food importing countries, who are, generally speaking, the industrial countries. In other words, there is a transfer of resources from the industrial regions in Europe to the agricultural regions through the operation of these intervention agencies and support by them. This is to our advantage because we are an agricultural country; we are an exporter of food.

The result of the present operation of the scheme is that funds will come into Ireland from Britain and other countries through the common fund in support of our agricultural produce. However, if the burden of this were to be thrown back on to the farmers' unions, as Dr. Mansholt seems to be indicating, the situation would be that it would be the farmers and the agricultural countries primarily who would be financing the support buying for their own produce. This would mean that instead of industrial countries like Britain financing the intervention prices for Irish agricultural produce our own farmers' unions and our own country would have to do it. This balance of payments advantage and, indeed, real financial advantage we would get from the present policy would be whittled away. I should like the Government to be very alert to ensure that no proposals such as those advanced by Dr. Mansholt in this article will be accepted.

The Government are not looking ahead in relation to the marketing of agricultural produce. The Minister has a sort of patter about the marketing of agricultural produce which he repeats every time he is asked about it:

The Deputies should be aware that the position of our agricultural marketing boards in the context of EEC membership is being considered at present both at official level and by the farming and other interests concerned.

They are just being considered at the moment. No indication is given as to how long this consideration will take. No deadline has been set for a final decision on the likely effect of marketing arrangements. As a result no plans can be made by our marketing agencies until some agreed interpretation as to how the EEC will affect our food marketing agencies is made. This is having a number of bad effects. For instance, Córas Tráchtála Teoranta, who are concerned with the export promotion of our industrial products, are going ahead with the establishment of an office in Brussels to promote our industrial exports in the EEC. No progress has been made in relation to the establishment of an office in Brussels for the promotion of agricultural exports. In fact when I said to the Minister yesterday that CTT had taken this decision and were going ahead with the establishment of an export promotion office in Brussels he was quite surprised. He did not know it was being done yet one would have thought he would have been seeking to establish a promotional agency in Brussels for our agricultural produce. Instead of that this thing is being considered in a vague sort of way without any deadline as to when the consideration will come to an end.

It is vital that the British get no concessions in relation to marketing agencies which we do not get as well. Britain have a milk marketing board, a potato marketing board and other marketing boards. These marketing boards have monopoly functions. In some cases they are not producercontrolled. They, in fact, operate to the disadvantage of our produce in many cases because they can in some instances sell British produce below cost on the British market and effectively keep out Irish produce. They are no good to us. They are for the benefit of the British farmers.

Britain are very strongly pressing that these marketing boards be continued. I asked the Minister a few weeks ago that any concessions that they got in relation to their marketing boards should also be extended to our marketing boards. His reply was that the British boards are internal marketing boards whereas ours are external marketing boards. In other words, he was making the British case for them in this House. He did not seem to be aware of the argument which should be made against that, namely that in the EEC there will be no distinction between internal and external marketing boards. There will be one single agricultural market and there will be no such thing as Britain being considered as an internal British market. It will be part of a European market and Ireland will be just as much internal to the British market as is Britain and Italy will be just as much internal to the British market as Britain. If that argument is being advanced let the Minister scotch it very quickly. Do not let the British get any concessions in relation to their marketing boards, which might effectively keep out Irish produce, which we cannot get in relation to Bord Bainne, the Pigs and Bacon Commission and I hope a meat marketing board which should be set up.

We have a meat marketing board.

No, we have a promotional agency.

We have a meat marketing board.

No, I would like to explain to the Deputy what we have.

I know all about it and I shall refer to it when the Deputy is finished.

We have a promotional agency namely Córas Beostoic agus Feola who carry out promotional activities, advertising and market research.

They can be extended very easily.

They should be extended. The Deputy admits they have to be extended to cover what I want.

I am not in disagreement on that point. I disagree when the Deputy says we have no agency. We have.

We have not a meat marketing board. We have a promotional board only and the distinction is very clear in the minds of the meat trade. Now that Deputy Carter has intervened, I should like to appeal——

The Deputy must admit I gave him a point.

The Deputy did not.

Come on now.

The point is that Córas Beostoic agus Feola do not buy up produce or sell it. They cannot and do not undertake the transport of agricultural produce and therefore cannot provide refrigerated transport which is being provided by the Danish marketing board. Córas Beostoic agus Feola do not enforce standards in factories. That is the basis for my allegation that we have not got a meat marketing board. I hope that satisfies the Deputy.

It does not.

We shall be hearing from him in due course. I tabled another question to the Minister asking him if in view of the fact that it may be impossible to provide State funds to marketing boards dealing with products covered by common agricultural policy after our accession to the EEC, he would consider making substantial funds available in advance of accession to ensure there is adequate finance available for agricultural marketing boards in the years ahead.

The point I am making is that when we are members of the EEC it is possible these marketing boards will have to be funded solely out of a levy on produce and the matter we should be considering is whether, before we become members and before we are subject to these regulations, we could give a substantial sum to these marketing boards to put them in funds going into the EEC so that they would not need to impose such a high levy on farmers and so that their operations in the marketing field could be in part financed out of funds already given to them by the State. This, apart from anything else, would be good anticipation. What we cannot do when we become members of the EEC we can still do as non-members and we should take advantage of this breathing space.

Another point which should be looked into is the method of operation of the Dutch system of marketing of agricultural produce within the EEC. This was explained to me only recently and I am sure I will be able adequately to explain it to the House. However, the Minister's officials will be able to dig out the details. What I believe has happened is that while the Dutch are not allowed to have a State marketing board, they are able to achieve the same effect by establishing companies in each of the countries to which they export which are subject to the company laws of those countries, are not controlled by the State but have State investment and as well have shareholdings by various farming organisations. Those boards have the same effect as a State marketing board and they are able to market solely Dutch products in those countries in the same way as a State marketing board would be able to do, which strictly they are not because their funds are not solely subscribed by the Government. We should consider setting up a similar system which would set up companies to handle agricultural exports.

Another problem is in relation to agricultural produce which takes a relatively long time to produce. Possibly the clearest example is beef. From the time of gestation until the animal is ready for the market, 2½ or three years elapse. If we wish to achieve a certain level of beef production in 2½ years, the investment decision must be taken now because when we are in the EEC we want to be able to produce so many cattle and we must do it 2½ years in advance. For that reason I regret there is nothing in the Minister's statement to give hope in this connection. Beef production needs the most long term investment and I had hoped the Minister would have intimated some provision in this regard. I welcome his reference to milk production.

Milk production is indirectly related to beef but milk production increases come much more quickly than increases in beef production. All that is necessary to increase milk production is to get a certain number of heifers in milk and this can be done from existing heifer stock. To increase beef production one must look 2½ years ahead and we must do something about it now. I should not be interpreted as criticising what has been done for milk production and I wholly support the Minister's action, but could he not also have been doing something about beef so that our production would reach an acceptable level on our accession?

I suggest that he should reconsider the operation of the present differential under the beef export guarantee scheme, the effect of which is that factories get roughly two old pence per lb. less in subsidies than their direct competitors in Northern Ireland and Britain. Unless we are to export our cattle to Britain to get that subsidy as British animals, we cannot benefit by the increased rate they are getting, whereas if we remove that differential it would increase beef prices here and give farmers confidence to invest. It would also give farmers an assurance that, during the transition period during which this differential would otherwise continue to operate, they would be able to see ahead and make plans. A decision now would be an advantage which would operate over a long period.

Another point which might be considered is that the beef incentive scheme is not available in respect of the first two cows in calf. That scheme has been effective, I concede, in greatly increasing cattle numbers but we have much greater potential and I suggest it should be extended to the first two cows in calf. A certain number of farmers, particularly small farmers, would go into the scheme and this inevitably would increase cattle numbers. The Minister probably has in mind or has had representations about many other possible incentives specifically to improve beef production.

Another point which should be brought to the Minister's attention is that it is unfortunate that the operation of VAT in relation to agriculture is to be brought into effect. This matter is a little uncertain at the present time. The idea is that the farmer will pay tax on his inputs and get a refund when selling the products. During the intervening period he will be at a loss for his money. That period will extend from March, 1972 when the first taxable input will be bought up to the end of that year or later when the farmer will sell his products. Some farmers will be out of money for that length of time. The amount involved is £7 million or £8 million over the whole farming community. It is unwise that at that crucial time in terms of investment decision for the EEC farmers should be deprived of their capital. The amount involved is important to them.

There is also the question of border formalities within the EEC. Imports to Italy as a result of administrative costs on the Italian border must bear what is actually a tax of 15 per cent. As a member of the EEC we will seek to export some of our produce to Italy. Administrative costs of this nature would be to our disadvantage. The Minister seems to be unaware of this possibility. When I raised the point he asked me for particulars of any conceivable instance in the future in which these border charges would inhibit us. The Minister did not seem to think that they could affect us at all. If we are members of the EEC they are bound to affect us because we will export some produce to Italy. I told the Minister that if we were exporting cattle or other commercial goods as a member of the EEC we would have to pay something like 30 per cent for administrative costs. My figure was not correct but the principle was correct. The Minister seemed to be unaware that this possibility could arise and he was not doing anything about it. I hope that the Minister will make strong representations to the EEC to have these border formalities removed. The Minister's response to this suggestion may be to say that we are not yet a member of the EEC. The Minister can put his views on record and thereby strengthen the hands of the countries advocating the removal of these formalities, who could then say that Ireland, who is an applicant country, is against these formalities also. The Minister is not prepared to make his views known. He should do so quickly.

On November 25th I put the following question to the Minister:

106. Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if it is likely that physical distances from the depots of the EEC beef, milk and grain intervention agencies in Ireland will mean that some farmers will get appreciably less for their produce than the basic intervention price in glut conditions.

I had seen a report of a trip made by the Irish Grasslands and Animal Production Association to north-west Germany. A number of farmers there had said to these people that for as long as a 12-month period they had not been getting even the basic intervention price for their goods. I was puzzled about what happened because if this happened in Germany it could happen to us. A number of possible explanations suggest themselves. This could be due to the floating of currencies. While the farmers might be getting intervention prices in Germany they might not be getting as much as the farmers in France because of the international monetary situation and the floating exchange rates.

That would not explain their allegations that they were getting less for a 12-month period because the floating of currencies has not taken place for 12 months. I had the impression from discussing this with an official of COPA, the General Union of Farmers' Organisations, and also with somebody in the Centrale Paysanne in Luxembourg, that this was due to the fact that the intervention price was set as a wholesale price and the farmers were getting less because their goods had to go through the hands of the wholesalers due to two factors—first, physical distance from the intervention agency, which meant that the farmers who was not able to do so himself had to get somebody to carry his produce to the agency and pay for it and, secondly, there were minimum quantities which could be bought by the intervention agency and no individual farmer would have enough himself to bring him up to that amount. The latter of those two reservations has been partly eased by what the Minister told me when I raised the matter. The Minister said that the amount in the case of skimmed milk powder is 20 tons. I suppose that most of our creameries would have 20 tons. In the case of wheat the figure is 50 tons. I am open to correction on this figure. A number of our farmers would have 50 tons but some would not and they would have to employ the services of a wholesaler and therefore would get less than the intervention price. The Minister was not able to answer me about the minimum quantity of beef. It is possible that the beef quantity which must be given to the intervention agency would be quite large. Farmers do not sell their beef in large quantities, but at different times of the year when it suits them. Beef is not a seasonal crop. They would not sell in quantities sufficient to enable them to act as their own wholesalers. Therefore, beef farmers would be getting prices less than the intervention prices. The Minister's general response to this question was that the best returns would be attainable on the Communities' markets and that it is by selling to those markets that Irish agriculture would make the most of the opportunities which EEC membership will provide.

He said that our aim, therefore, must be to sell as little as possible to those agencies. It is all very fine for him to say that, but it may be that we will have no option but to sell to those agencies because, of necessity, we are a producing country and if there is a glut of a particular agricultural product it is likely to be felt first in the supplying country. Therefore, it is likely that the supplying country will be the first that will have to turn to an intervention agency. Therefore, it is likely that, proportionately speaking, Irish farmers being further from the consumption market than, say, farmers in Britain who are living beside the market, will be the first to have to turn to an intervention agency. It is very important that the provisions in relation to intervention agencies should be satisfactory to us and that our farmers should have an assurance that they will get the basic intervention price and that they will not get less.

It is also important in relation to this matter that the intervention price mechanism should be introduced quickly. I know there is an automatic intervention price mechanism in regard to milk and grain where the price is set and, if in any case the price goes below a certain percentage of the guide price, you can go automatically to the intervention agency and sell your product. As far as I know in regard to beef there has to be a council decision to introduce intervention buying. It does not exist on a continuing basis. It is possible that, if there was a delay in the introduction of the intervention mechanism in the field of beef, we could be getting less than the intervention price for our beef for some weeks because the intervention measures had not been introduced. We will want to watch that. We will want to be sure that, as soon as prices here fall below the intervention level, intervention measures are introduced immediately. That will call for great speed and alacrity on the part of the Department and a good deal of arm twisting on the part of our representatives in Brussels.

I hope these problems will not arise but we should foresee them. My whole criticism of the Government's approach to the EEC is that they are not foreseeing these problems. They are not looking ahead and they are not telling the people what the problem will be. Admittedly, they are concerned, as I believe they should be, to ensure that the referendum goes through but the referendum campaign will carry much greater force if the Irish people can be confident that the Government are availing of every opportunity to improve the EEC regulations, pressing hard, not trying to softsoap the EEC or trying to cover over the difficulties in order to give the farmers of Ireland a picture of the EEC which is somewhat less than the reality and which shows only the cosmetic effects and conceals the warts.

I was making a point earlier about the lack of a common policy in the field of mutton and lamb and the very severe effects that will have for us and the fact that we have not as yet made our opinions known, that we have not pressed for the early adoption of the common policy. This argument also applies to potatoes which are an important product particularly in the northern part of my constituency. In north Meath there is a lot of potato production. Mushrooms are another factor. In my constituency we have a mushroom factory in Carbury in County Kildare. It is very important that there should be a common policy for both of these products in order to provide intervention buying procedures which will ensure that the prices of these products will not fall too low. The Government have not expressed an opinion on this so far as I know. They have not said that their policy is to get a common policy adopted. They have just said: "This will be done when we are in the EEC." This should not be their attitude.

I should like to move now to a question which I touched on already, and that is, the question of structural reform. I propose to deal with this largely in an EEC context but there are some things which can be said about the immediate measures which have been introduced. While I welcome the extension of the amount which will be paid to farmers at the various stages of completion of their development plans under the small farm incentive bonus scheme, I very much regret that the scheme has not been extended and that the target has not been raised.

The target at the moment is, and has been since the introduction of the scheme, that farmers can participate if they can show that they will achieve an income at the end of the development plan of £700 a year. Who wants to enter a development plan and go to all the trouble of drawing up accounts and participating with the adviser if all he is aiming at at the end of that period is an income of £700 a year? Very few people, indeed, are prepared to make all that effort in order to achieve £700 a year.

Perhaps that figure was in some way realistic when the scheme was introduced originally, but it is no longer realistic at all. It should have been adjusted regularly in line with the cost of living. Apart from that, this whole system of development planning in consultation with the advisers, with State intervention to provide incentives, should be extended and can be extended usefully to a much wider range of farmer than those who are at present in the category to which the small farm incentive bonus scheme applies. We should consider re-examining this scheme with a view to extending it to a very great extent so that it will cover a much larger number of farmers. The Minister has said—and he is correct—that this scheme is in line with the Mansholt proposals, but it is on far too limited a scale. While the concept is the same, the scale is not the same at all. It is important that we should expand this to a great extent.

A natural corollary of what I am saying is that the number of applications and acceptances under this scheme has been falling drastically each year since the introduction of the scheme. Perhaps it rose after the first year or so, but ever since then it has been going down. This is obviously a result of the fact that the target is so abysmally low that very few will bother going to the trouble of trying to achieve it. This should be considered. This new measure which the Minister has announced is too little and too late. Already there has been this drastic fall-off in the numbers entering the scheme.

There are remarkable differences between various parts of the country in regard to the number of people entering the scheme. The latest figures I have are the figures I quoted in my speech last year. It would be no harm to repeat them because they illustrate the point very well. I said that a point worth noting was the difference between various counties in regard to applications. I said that in Donegal in the last three months of 1969 there were only 13 acceptances even though there are 12,500 farmers in that area and of these 77 per cent have less than 50 acres; in Mayo there were 163 acceptances, a matter on which the Mayo county committee were to be commended; that was 163 as against 13 although the number of farmers in that area was not much greater than the number in Donegal and that in Meath there was only one acceptance in the same period whereas there were 31 in 1968. This is a county in which, too, there are many small farmers who would benefit from the scheme if it was attractive. Apart from the overall attractions of it, we should consider the question of the differences between certain areas. Obviously, a big effort was made in Mayo to promote the scheme and the advisers went out and endeavoured to encourage people to participate in the scheme and were prepared to help farmers in its operation whereas in other counties it is possible that the advisers did something about the scheme only when they were approached on the matter. If this scheme is to be effective there must be an effective selling approach to it.

In relation to experience on the Continent, the point has been made to me that these schemes will work but that there must not be imposed on the farmers too great a burden of account keeping. I am not saying that it is not necessary to keep accounts but that bureaucratic civil service procedures should not be imposed on farmers. In other words, farmers should not be required to account for their activities to the same extent as perhaps civil servants might be required to do and that we should try as far as possible to minimise the amount of bookkeeping involved in the scheme. Of course, a certain amount of bookkeeping is necessary for the operation of the scheme and even if farmers are not participating in the scheme, the keeping of accounts would be beneficial to them. However, we should avoid extensive bookkeeping.

On the question of structural reform, I have already made most of the relevant points by way of explanation on an earlier point concerning the Government's general attitude to the EEC, their sense of inevitability about what is being proposed and their reluctance at this stage to put forward proposals. One point that should be considered in relation to structural reform concerns the land distribution policy of the Land Commission. I asked the Minister for Lands how he expected the new targets under the Mansholt proposals would affect the land distribution policy of the Land Commission. The Minister replied that it was not possible at this stage to indicate the extent to which these proposals would finally be approved and adopted by the Council and that in these circumstances it would be premature to come to any final conclusion as to the effect of the proposals on the existing land distribution policy of the Land Commission. He said that under the agreed procedures we shall be given the opportunity of presenting our full views to the Community. The fact is that these proposals are available already in great detail and what I was asking the Minister was not to say what the final decision would be but at least to interpret the present proposals and their effect on the Land Commission. He could have ascertained that information quite easily and he would not have to wait until the proposals were finally agreed before giving us an interpretation of them. If he waits for as long as that, it will then be too late. The proposals will be accepted and we shall not be able to do anything further. Now is the time to alert farming opinion and not after the scheme has been accepted finally. When I asked the Minister if he had made any representations on the matter, he became very petulant and said that he had answered the question already. It was clear that he had made no representations although he has been parading around the country as the great apostle of part-time farming, compassion and so forth. Perhaps less oratory and more work would be appropriate in so far as the Minister for Lands is concerned.

In relation to part-time farmers the position so far as I can see is that in order to participate in the Mansholt Plan development scheme, a farmer must show that from agriculture alone, he can achieve what is described in the plan as a comparable income with that of non-agricultural workers in his region. A part-time farmer who would be working for some of the time in industry might, taking his combined activities, be able to achieve a comparable income within the stated period but the requirements of the Mansholt proposal are such that he must achieve it from agriculture only. The effect of this would be to exclude many efficient producers from the Mansholt proposals and from the investment aids made available under those proposals. Because of the many part-time farmers in constituencies such as those represented by Deputies Malone, Keating and myself, this should be a matter that we are prepared to take up. The exclusion of these people from the Mansholt proposals would put them at a severe competitive disadvantage by comparision with full-time farmers who possibly might not be as efficient in terms of utilisation of land and productivity per acre as the smaller part-time farmers but who, because of their larger acreage, can achieve from agriculture solely the level required.

Another point that should be taken up by the Minister is the effect that the Mansholt proposals will have on our existing State aid to agriculture. Whenever the Minister has been asked a question on this matter, he has said that it will fall to be considered in due course by the Council of Ministers. During the time I was visiting the EEC capitals last month, the impression I got was that it was generally agreed within the Council that national State aid would have to go by 1975 and that the French were resisting this but that most of the other countries were in favour of it. Since they were prepared to tell me that at that time, it is clear that the Minister is living in a rather unrealistic situation if he thinks that decisions have not more or less been taken nor lines drawn up on this question. The Minister must do something about this matter now because it would probably be too late for us to take action if we were to wait until after our accession.

In so far as the Mansholt proposals in relation to State aids are concerned, there is specific provision in the directive in so far as it does not prejudge the member State's option of taking additional assistance methods which may differ from those referred to therein or involve amounts in excess of the ceiling provided for, subject to the condition that investment aids to farms which fail to meet the requirements specified in Articles 2 (1) and 4(2) are prohibited. All that is in Article 2 is a reference to main farming activity, farming qualifications, bookkeeping and development plans. The possible interpretation of that could be that the national government could not give aid to farmers except those who are completely in line with the Mansholt proposal. That would exclude a lot of people. Article 4 (2) constitutes the other grounds on which certain requirements must be complied with. I am not sure as to the meaning of Article 4(2) which says that the term "working income" within the meaning of paragraph 1 should be understood to mean the annual average gross wage including payments made for social security purposes earned by workers outside farming in the areas in which the agricultural enterprise concerned carries on its activities. As far as I can understand it, that means effectively that to get aids from the State one must have this working income and be able to attain this working income and I would imagine that it must be done in agricultural production. The effect of these exclusions will be, if I am correct, that the national Government will not be able to give aids to agricultural other than to farmers who are already in the development programme of the Mansholt proposals. This will have a bad effect on aids which are at present available to part-time farmers, it will have a bad effect on farmers who are too small at the moment to reach the level at the end of the development plan, farmers who are too small starting out. It will also mean that farmers who start off above the comparable income level—if there are any farmers in this country, and I am sure there are some, who are earning more than the average national income—will also be excluded from national State aid. I suppose there will be no tears shed for these latter farmers in a social sense, and I do not think there should be, but there is the possibility that big industrialists will still qualify for grants from the national Government in the EEC. In terms of economics it is possible that there will be an advantage to industrial investment over agricultural investment and that large industrialists looking for credit, because they have national aids available to them, will have a better credit position than largish agricultural enterprise. They do not have to be all that large; all they must have is over the national average income and they are out. That is serious because it will distort competition for investment between industry and agriculture.

My interpretation of these proposals is possibly quite faulty and I am hoping that the Minister will be able to allay my doubts but these issues are worth raising anyway. We certainly need to make a case now before decisions are taken about our State aids. We need to come out now and tell the EEC that we want to retain our fertiliser subsidies, if we want to retain them, that we want to retain farm building grants for all farmers, if we want to retain them, that we want to retain land project grants for all farmers, if we want to retain them. The time to speak is now and not to wait until we are in the EEC and the decision is effectively taken even if it is not taken on paper.

I should like to know what the effect of the EEC will be, and particularly the structural proposals of Dr. Mansholt, on the operation of the Agricultural Credit Corporation. The ACC can at present give loans to all farmers who seek loans and who are prepared to put forward good, creditworthy proposals. Will this exclusion of national State aid apply to the ACC and if so will this mean that the ACC will be excluded from giving credit to farmers other than to those who are participating in the development plan under the Mansholt proposals? This should be considered because again it will be starving farmers who are not in the middle group, particularly the small farmer who might be excluded from the Mansholt proposals but who might have some small, sound project which required credit and it will also be starving any farmer who starts out earning more than the "comparable" income. He will not have these credit facilities whereas quite possibly the Industrial Credit Corporation or the Stock Market which will be making credit available to industry will be able to give credit to industrial enterprises of all sizes. Agriculture will be in a worse credit position than industry and that should not happen because we are an agricultural country. We are able to yield a much greater return in terms of income for capital investment from agriculture. Nothing should be done which starves agricultural credit for expansion.

There are existing structural difficulties in the field of agriculture as far as getting credit is concerned because industrial enterprises very often are formed into public companies and they can float shares on the stock market and get credit in that way. As they are companies there are specific regulations in regard to the publication of accounts. An investor knows that if he is giving credit to an industrial company this information will be available to him and he will be able to supervise, to some extent, how the money is being spent, whereas in the case of farming most farmers are individuals and not companies and there is not the requirement in regard to publication of accounts so that anybody who would want to invest money in the ACC does not know specifically how the money is being spent by individual farmers. This means there is a relative advantage in giving credit to an industrial company rather than direct to a farmer, or to a company like the ACC which specialises in giving credit to farmers. We should do everything possible to ensure that credit facilities provided nationally through the ACC are available to all farmers for a long period after we are members of the EEC. I hope my fears will prove to be unfounded.

I should like to quote briefly from a report which illustrates the great investment potential of Irish agriculture and the need to pump money into it now. This is a paper by Mr. Michael Walshe, agricultural adviser to the World Bank, formerly of Moore Park. I quote from the Irish Times of 1st December, 1971:

He said present production from our 11.8 million acres of farm land was disappointing. On 10.5 million acres of grassland we only carried 1.7 million cows, 200,000 heifers, 1.1 million beef cattle for sale and 2.8 million other cattle. If agriculture was financed and developed we could have 5 million cows, 1 million heifers, 0.9 million culled cows and 3.5 million beef cattle (10 cwt.) for sale.

This would amount to an output of £1,490 million a year, compared with present output of about £470 million (both adjusted to Common Market prices) which would mean an increase of £1,020 million.

The point is that if we were to invest this money we could get a huge return. We should ensure that farming is not starved of credit because that is the potential set out by a man who knows his job.

I should now like to speak on the subject of liquid milk prices. The bulk of milk producers in my constituency supply the Dublin liquid market rather than creameries. Increases have been announced in the Budget in creamery milk prices. There has been no announcement of an increase in the price paid to liquid milk producers. Why have these producers been left out while creamery producers are getting an increase? This matter should be considered. It may be that liquid milk producers did get an increase of late which the creamery men did not get. On May 1st liquid milk producers got an increase equivalent to 1.042p a gallon. I do not think there had been an increase for some time prior to that. That was to cover the increase in costs over a long period. The NFA have calculated that if you subtract the increase given in May from the increased costs, the net costs to liquid milk producers since January of this year have increased by 3½p per gallon. In other words their costs have gone up by 3½p per gallon since 1st January disregarding cost increases which took place prior to 1st January. Since January, feedingstuffs have increased in price by £3 a ton. This is equivalent, in relation to dairy rations, to an increase of 8 to 9 per cent. The cost of fertilisers has increased by 10 per cent from 1st July. Rates have gone up. Transport costs have gone up. ESB charges have gone up. I have quoted the figure of 15 per cent. Yet, the farmer has got only an increase of 1.042p per gallon. Increases should not be given solely to creamery milk producers. The liquid milk producer is in equal need of them. The liquid milk producer is not, generally speaking, an exporter but if a relative advantage is given to creamery milk producers there is a danger that farmers will go out of liquid milk production and change to creamery milk production, which might result in a scarcity of milk on the domestic market. I think there was a shortage of milk in October, even without the differential for creamery milk. It is quite possible that there would be a shortage of liquid milk due to farmers opting out of liquid milk production and going into creamery milk production if an equivalent increase to that given for creamery milk is not given to liquid milk producers. Such a shortage would not be to the advantage of anybody and the housewife, who is very sensitive to an increase in the price of liquid milk, would be the first to suffer.

There is a subsidy given to the small farmers for the installation of milk coolers but only creamery milk producers qualify. Liquid milk producers require cooling facilities because liquid milk has to travel a long distance from the farm to the market whereas, under the present unrationalised system of creameries, there is a fairly high concentration of creameries in the creamery milk belt. That does not apply in my district to the same extent as in the south of Ireland, where the scheme is of great importance and where there is a fairly high concentration of creameries. Therefore, the danger of a decline in quality due to lack of cooling is not as great in the creamery milk areas as in liquid milk areas. For the Dublin liquid milk area the only market point is Dublin but there are some people supplying Dublin with liquid milk from as far away as Gorey, Carnacross and Kells. These people do not have the cooling facilities necessary for milk to travel that long distance. The supplier in the creamery district may live next door to the creamery and he will get a grant for the installation of a cooling system. This is anomalous. I hope the Minister will consider giving grants to liquid milk producers for the installation of coolers. The liquid milk consumer, the housewife, is just as important as the person to whom we export butter and other dairy products and as much entitled to get good quality milk as the foreign buyer. All possible steps must be taken to maintain a high quality for the liquid milk market and for the Irish housewife. One would be to provide grants for cooling systems for liquid milk producers.

I want to comment on the secretive approach of the Department and their reluctance to tell the farmers the likely effect of accession to the Common Market on liquid milk producers. There are at an advanced stage draft regulations for a common policy for liquid milk before the Council of Ministers. These have been spelled out in great detail. Yet, when I asked the Minister to tell us how the liquid milk producer in this country would be affected by the adoption of these draft regulations, all he could tell me was:

The policy on liquid milk is one of the matters being discussed this week in Brussels in connection with negotiations on Ireland's entry to the EEC. The outcome of these negotiations will be indicated in the White Paper to be published on the subject of Ireland's accession to the European Community.

Not only was he not prepared to tell us the implications of the existing draft regulations, but he did not even promise to tell us what would be the result of his efforts to change the draft as soon as that would be available. All he would say was that he would tell us when the White Paper is published. Nobody is sure as to when the White Paper will be published. The time to tell the farmer is now so that his opinion can be mobilised to strengthen the Government's negotiating hand. It is no use in telling the farmer when it is too late.

I asked the Minister would he consider making this information available as soon as possible. I hope he will do so. The major implication will be in respect of butter fat content. I have discovered, without any help from the Minister, that this would be one of the major difficulties. I put down a question about this and the Minister said:

As the question is still under discussion I am not at present in a position to indicate the implications for Irish producers.

As far as I can interpret, without any help from the Minister, the position is that 3.5 per cent butter fat is the minimum requirement in the EEC. At present, the minimum legal requirement in this country is 3.3 per cent butter fat in liquid milk. This is, as far as I know, the present position. Also, as far as I know, the Agricultural Institute carried out surveys at certain periods, particularly in the months of January and February, when it is very difficult to produce milk, and they found that in some cases the butter fat content was lower than that 3.3 per cent. If our regulation 3.3 per cent is not rigorously enforced it will be all right but, as I say, the regulation in the EEC is 3.5 per cent and it is possible that that will be applied very rigorously. Farmers should be told about this. Liquid milk is paid for on a gallonage basis and not on a butter fat basis. If we join the EEC will it be paid for in the future on a butter fat basis? The Minister has not given us any information about this.

There is an enormous potential in beef production. The price of beef in the EEC has been very consistent. It is not a produce which runs into surpluses and, because of that, the price remains stable. We have very definite advantages here from the point of view of climate, soil and grass. The prospects are more favourable in the case of beef than they are in the case of milk. There has already been surplus milk production in the EEC and there is no reason to think that this may not occur again. We would be better off, I think, putting the emphasis on beef.

We have a very long grazing season as compared with EEC countries. We also produce more grass per acre and grass is a cheaper livestock feed than anything else. We can keep our cattle for a longer period on a much cheaper feed than can our continental competitors. They have a shorter grazing season and a harsher winter. We do not have to spend so much on overwintering. Fluctuations in price do not occur and the price is more or less the same in April as it is in November. We should be able to get a very good price for our beef in November. We have significant advantages and we should be able to benefit from these. It must be remembered, too, that prices are 50 per cent higher in the EEC.

Beef is an expanding market and we should aim at a growth rate of 500,000 head over the next four or five years. That should lead to an increase of something in the region of 50 per cent in cattle exports. It has been estimated by the Agricultural Institute that, in order to achieve this target, we would need a total investment in beef production of £20 million at farm level. About half of this can be provided by the farmer. If he gets a good price he will have money for investment purposes. The other half will have to be provided by way of credit facilities. The Government should expand credit facilities for beef production to enable this investment to be made now so that we will be ready to take advantage of the higher prices prevailing in the Common Market.

I would emphasise again that we will have to do everything we can to protect our credit facilities. If we increase our through-put by 500,000 head in the meat factories this would result in the creation of 700 new jobs in the meat processing industry. This is very important. We are prepared to spend £5 million on a smelter plant to create 400 jobs down in Cork. I am not sure if my figure here is correct. but I heard it was something like that. If we spent that £5 million on agriculture it might give a better return in jobs in the meat processing industry.

We cannot have beef animals in 1974 if the calves are not born now. There are a number of easily identifiable bottlenecks holding back expansion in the beef industry. A major one is the inadequate use of fertiliser. The 1967 survey showed that only 35 per cent of pasture gets any fertiliser every year. If we have to remove our fertiliser subsidy this figure could remain as it is or, quite possibly, decrease. If fertilisers are not used, we cannot get the maximum return in beef production. Another drawback is the fact there are not enough cattle to eat the grass and a great deal of grass goes to waste. A stocking rate of 1.75 head per acre gives a 60 per cent better liveweight gain per acre than a stocking rate of only one head per acre. This is a good argument for increasing our stocking rate. It is, of course, largely a matter for the farmer. However, if he is to have the stock to put on the land, we must produce the calves now and the Government will have to create an atmosphere of confidence which will lead to more calves being produced.

We will also have to examine our marketing outlets for beef. There is the danger that our beef may be at the mercy of a monopoly created by the retail outlets. British supermarkets are more and more coming under the control of a few big operators. These operators can tell our beef producers that they will not buy their produce unless they are prepared to sell at X price. A monopoly situation is developing in Britain and unless we have an equivalent monopoly in our supply position here, beef producers may be at the mercy of these large retail outlets.

There are two alternatives: we can either open up retail outlets in Britain for the sale of beef products there— I do not, however, think that is very feasible—or we can strengthen the CBF so that it can withhold supply if it feels it is not getting an adequate price, but we would probably run into difficulties with regard to EEC regulations in relation to monopolies in the agricultural marketing field. If that is the case, it is important we should get the EEC to ensure that no cartels or monopolies are created by the retail trade in Britain to our disadvantage. The same rules against monopoly marketing and selling should be applied to British supermarkets as are applied to the CBF.

We are not spending enough money marketing beef and lamb. CBF is limping along with £300,000 trying to promote beef and lamb exports, which probably make the biggest contribution to our balance of payments. At the same time, Córas Tráchtála is getting £1.5 million for the promotion of industrial exports which, while making an important contribution as far as exports are concerned, is far less than the relative contribution made by beef and lamb in terms of total production.

I believe some people are taking the CBF for a ride. There was a campaign for the sale of Irish beef and posters saying, "Great, great grass makes great, great beef" were distributed to butchers throughout Britain. A delegation went round Britain and in the few butchers' shops they visited, the posters were prominently displayed, but I heard from another source that the next day these posters were taken down. Most butchers took these posters but never used them properly and a great deal of attractive publicity material never saw the light of day.

There is no point in creating a brand name for a product until adequate supplies are available. A somewhat less glamorous activity, like the promotion of meat classification, proper packaging and effective transport to the markets would yield better returns than large expenditure on image creation. I believe the CBF should have statutory power to intervene and ensure that proper standards of packaging are maintained in meat factories so that the Irish product is worth promoting. Chilling regulations exist but they are not being enforced in meat factories as well as they should be.

It is important to have meat properly classified so that we can supply the consumer with exactly what he or she wants. The meat classification scheme may be too slow in coming into operation. It is proposed to run a pilot scheme first. How long will the pilot scheme be in operation before a comprehensive scheme is introduced? We should ensure there is no unnecessary delay.

On the group concerned with drawing up the scheme there were representatives from the trade and from the factories but there were no representatives from the producers who are, after all, the basic contributors to the beef industry. I hope adequate facilities will be made available to allow the producers to make their views known. The delay which will result from having to consult them at this stage would have been avoided if they had been consulted in the first place.

I understand the Department of Education has been approached on a number of occasions by the meat trade to provide a meat training school with slaughter line and various other facilities in order to teach people working in meat factories quality control, hygiene, safety, packaging and all the other skills necessary for the effective operation of a meat factory. There is a need to provide courses in vocational schools for people entering the meat trade because it is an important field of employment. The Department of Agriculture should tackle the Department of Education about such a scheme. The activities of AnCO should be extended to include the meat trade; at present they are not interested in it. If we are to produce the right product, skilled operatives are needed.

There is a need for refrigerated transport in the British market and indeed every market. The Danes have provided themselves with refrigerated transport in order to ensure that their bacon arrives on the British market in the right condition. We do not provide refrigerated transport and instead have to rely on the inadequate facilities provided by the British authorities. The CBF should consider providing this transport for the export of Irish meat. Shipping facilities to Birkenhead seem to be assured as a result of the activities of the consortium and private concerns. I hope we shall have assured shipping facilities to Britain, but I wonder if we shall have assured shipping facilities to the Continent when that market is opened up to us.

We must ensure we are producing the right sort of beef for the continental market. We must not produce beef required solely for the British market. We cannot continue to have all our eggs in one basket. The British want a product with a fairly high fat content, whereas continentals want lean meat. In Germany 65 per cent of the beef sold to the consumer is bull beef, 3 per cent are bullocks and the rest are female. Bull beef makes £18 a hundredweight, bullocks make £16 and £17 a hundredweight and heifers make less. This means that the type of meat we are producing at present will fetch less on the Continent. We should try to produce the meat which will get the highest price. There are many advantages in the field of bull beef production. The Government should introduce a policy to expand bull beef production here in order that we can take advantage of the continental market. The gains in terms of meat for food taken in are 12 per cent better from bull beef than from bullock beef; in other words that food into meat conversion is better in the case of bull beef than in the case of bullock beef. There is another reason for going into bull beef. The Minister admitted frankly to me that he had no plans for the development of bull beef production: he should have. He said that if any producer wanted to go into bull beef production he would get a licence but if this is the product field in which we have an advantage the Minister should be persuading people to get into bull beef production so that we would be able to serve the continental market with the sort of meat they want.

I already mentioned that it is unfortunate that we have a disadvantage under the differential in relation to the UK fat stock guarantee scheme: we should equalise the two rates of payment so that our meat factories would not be at a disadvantage relative to those in Britain or Northern Ireland. It is very important for us to develop a proper breeding policy. I understand that although the idea of performance testing for bulls in the AI service was first announced as Government policy in 1964 in the Second Programme for Economic Expansion they are only now getting around to building a station at Tully, County Kildare, so that performance testing may be undertaken. I put it to the Minister for Finance yesterday that this revealed a certain amount of delay on the part of the Government that they could not execute policy agreed in 1964 until 1972. He did not agree there was delay; I was somewhat surprised.

We need a much more rigorous system of progeny testing and we should reject bulls out of the AI service unless they can produce really top class progeny. The present selection procedure, only recently adopted, is that they will take one bull out of four and the three others not as good will be dropped. That selection procedure is not rigorous enough and I wonder if we could achieve a better selection ratio.

I should like to know what will happen to our US meat quota when we go into EEC. Will the relatively more attractive prices for meat in EEC mean that nobody will bother with the US meat market as it will be so much more profitable to export it to EEC? I understand at present people are only supplying the US market in order to preserve the quota and that it is more profitable to send the meat to Britain even at the present low prices there. What will happen when we are in the EEC, when we completely fail to fill our quota? This is something which should be considered.

Our research experts should take a very close look at the challenge of synthetic beef to Irish beef production. It has been estimated that over the next five years the use of beef substitutes made from various protein fibres and so on will increase at a rate of 200 to 300 per cent per annum. These, like margarine in relation to butter, will be synthetic substitutes for beef. We should try to ensure this development will not work to our disadvantage and that we can produce a product better in every respect than the synthetic competitor.

We have had a very dramatic fall in sheep production. It has been stated by the Committee on the Review of State Expenditure in relation to Agriculture that sheep production declined here over the last five or ten years largely because of State intervention. This took the form of the State giving more attractive grants to other lines of production. It was estimated in 1967 that to get £1 in price support from the Government you had to produce £19.3 worth of cattle, £19.8 worth of pigs, £3.7 worth of milk but to get a £1 worth of State support in relation to sheep in 1967 you had to produce £56.1 worth of sheep. Obviously, the financial disincentive existed to get people away from sheep and there is no use in the Government deploring that people are not producing sheep when they are not doing so because of the Government's policy of failing to give support to sheep on the same level as for other produce. This situation is being further aggravated at present because sheep prices are lower now even than last year and the recent encouraging trend of an increase in sheep numbers may, because of the collapse in the market this year, be reversed. There is a danger that because of price disadvantage and because of the relative improvement in competing products such as cattle and milk, people will be completely driven away from sheep. This will also be as a result of the fact that there is no common policy or common intervention prices for sheep in the Common Market whereas there is a common policy at present for beef, milk and other competing products.

If we want people to continue producing sheep we should now be agitating for the adoption of a common policy on sheep. There is great potential for sheep if we were in a position to avail of it because the self-sufficiency level in the extended Common Market for sheep is much lower than it is for other products. It is 56 per cent approximately for sheep production in the Community of ten whereas it is 80 per cent in beef production. The market is there but if we do not take action soon everybody will have gone out of sheep here and we shall not be able to take advantage of that market. The Minister said he was keeping in touch with developments in regard to the adoption of a common policy for sheep. I do not believe him because he reveals monumental ignorance of the subject in the House when in one week he is prepared to tell the House that when we enter EEC we would have free access to the French lamb market and in the following week he has to eat his words and say that because there was not a common policy we would not naturally have guaranteed access to the French market for lamb. Clearly, he was not keeping in touch with the matter if he could make such a fundamental mistake. I do not believe he is taking the steps he should be taking in regard to protecting the future of our sheep industry in EEC. I believe when we enter EEC the British will try damn hard to ensure that there is no common policy because it would keep the New Zealanders out and they will not want that.

I welcome, as does everybody on my side of the House, the fact that the multi-tier price system for milk is gone. At column 289 of the Official Report of 2nd December, 1970, I said:

The objective of Exchequer intervention in agricultural production should be primarily to increase efficiency and incomes. Any system of Exchequer support that discourages efficiency and expansion is hardly desirable.

That was the view I expressed last year in regard to the multi-tier price system.

I am glad this year the Minister has recognised that Fine Gael were correct in what they were advocating. It will be interesting to see how some of the Fianna Fáil backbenchers who spoke on last year's Estimate approach the change which the Minister has made. Deputy Hussey said last year at column 719, Volume 251, of the Official Report, of 9th February, 1971:

I favour an increase in the price of milk, provided it is fixed on a sliding scale.

Will he eat his words this year when there is an increase in the price of milk which is not provided on a sliding scale? Deputy Smith said, at column 890:

Deputy Keating described the twotier price of milk as a wicked scheme and Deputy Bruton advocated its total abolition. People who advocate the paying of subsidies at a flat rate must think we are living in some kind of paradise where money grows on trees. If we had unlimited resources we could consider paying a flat rate subsidy.

I am glad to note that the Minister and the Government now have unlimited resources, according to Deputy Smith. I shall be interested to hear what those two Deputies have to say about the initiative taken by the Minister this year in response to Fine Gael and Labour prodding. I wish to quote from an article in the Irish Times of Thursday, 2nd December, 1971:

One of the big dangers of the new system is that the incentive to produce quality milk is "watered down" somewhat. Up to now farmers whose milk passed the quality test got an extra 1p per gallon. This now goes and it is up to the individual creameries to carry on testing and the incentive if they so wish.

In other words, the State itself is no longer providing an incentive to quality milk. It was generally recognised that the scheme which the State was operating was very effective in leading to quality milk. I hope its withdrawal of the scheme will not result in the quality falling off.

The prices which have been given for creamery milk are long overdue. Deputy Donal Creed, the Fine Gael spokesman, was told by the Minister in response to a question on 11th February, 1971, that the price of milk in 1967 was 11.3p per gallon, whereas in 1970, three years later, it was only 11.5p per gallon, an increase of .2p over three years. Therefore, if we are getting substantial increases now, it is only to catch up on the backlog which the Government have allowed to develop. There is no point in saying now what a wonderful thing it is that the backlog has been partially done away with. Again it is too little and too late.

There is something to be said for paying for milk, not only on a butter fat content basis but also on a protein content basis. The protein content is very important in cheese production. From a nutritional point of view there is increased recognition of protein as a most valuable constituent of milk. I should like to quote from an article by T. C. A. McGann and J. A. O'Connell in the Farm and Food Research bulletin for March/April 1971:

At present, payment in the liquid milk industry (i.e. for human consumption) is on a gallonage consideration only, whereas in the manufacturing sector (85 per cent of total), payment is on a butter-fat basis. In the future, it is desirable that protein will be taken into account in payment for both liquid and manufacturing milk because of its primary significance in human nutrition and in the yield and quality of dairy products...

That is something the Government should consider as a matter of urgency. They should ensure that, if the EEC are not already paying on a protein basis, they will do so.

In regard to grain, the price of feeding barley is well below the price at present being paid in the EEC.

There is a feeling abroad that we are at a competitive disadvantage in regard to corn. We should not feel this. The average yields of grain per acre in Ireland are higher than the average yields of grain in any of the EEC countries. That is something we should consider before we write off the future of grain production in the EEC. It has been estimated also that from our existing grassland area, we could double our output of cattle without eating into any of the existing tillage areas. It is quite possible, therefore, that it is not undesirable to promote grain production.

In regard to horticulture, this is an industry of some significance in the eastern part of my constituency of Meath. The greatest need of all here is for a proper marketing system for horticulture. There is the danger that people are being encouraged, willy nilly, to produce particular soft fruits on an unco-ordinated basis without proper assessment being made in advance of the likely needs of the market for a particular soft fruit. There should be a proper marketing system so that information could be fed back to the producer and to the official who is advising him so as to ensure that we produce the right quantities of the various soft fruits and that there is not a glut in one product and scarcity in others.

Concern has been expressed by my colleague, Deputy Tully, in regard to the prospects for the soft fruit industry in the EEC. I think he is right to express those reservations at this stage. However, he may be slightly pessimistic, in that soft fruits are relatively perishable commodities, and as we are comparatively far away from the centre of the EEC, it is possible that our soft fruit producers will at least be able to retain their home market without significant danger from continental competition. The people should be told quite clearly the prospects in regard to this very important industry. There is a lack of information from the Department in this field and, in the absence of such information, people fear the worst.

Another important question in regard to the soft fruit industry is that of transport. As I have said, these are highly perishable products. They come on the market in large quantities at a particular time. Therefore, transport should be available to take them to their destination quickly. I have advocated in this House that the freedom extended to haulage of cattle and sheep should also be extended in respect of soft fruit, and that no stone should be left unturned to provide transport for this commodity to the market. Therefore, we should allow unlicensed hauliers to transport soft fruits. I asked the Minister recently what steps he is taking to improve the price for pears and apples within the EEC and he said:

Pending this country's accession to the EEC, there are no steps I can take to influence the price available within the EEC for apples and pears.

I suppose, in strictly legal terms, he is correct but I think at least he should make his views known and the views of the Irish apple and pear producers known. He should let the EEC know that we will not be satisfied with the prices which are offered there at the moment. He should at least express an opinion on this matter. He may not like taking that step but he should tell the EEC what he thinks of their price structure.

I asked the Minister to set up some sort of marketing or promotional body for the horticultural industry and he said that the matter was at present under consideration. This appears to me to be a step backwards because in the document entitled "Main activities of the Department of Agriculture in 1970" this was stated:

Consideration is being given following discussions with the interests concerned to the establishment of some suitable type of promotional body for the horticultural industry.

Apparently we have not initiated further discussions on this matter although discussions had apparently taken place when that statement was made. What has happened? Why the delay?

Farm education should be available not only to old and young farmers but to agricultural workers as well. It is very important to realise the role which an agricultural worker can play in the industry. More and more he is required to have detailed knowledge of machinery and to take management decisions in his employment. It is important that he be trained to take those decisions and in that context I welcome the initiative taken by the County Dublin Committee of Agriculture in initiating a course for agricultural workers specifically. I hope this will be extended to the rest of the country and that it will have the encouragement of the Department.

We will also be required in the EEC by the proposals of the structural reform, if they are adopted, to provide what is deemed socio-economic advice to farmers. The Minister told me that the provision of this socio-economic advice would require no change in our present system of higher education which prepares our advisers to advise people on this question. The Minister may be unduly optimistic because these proposals for socio-economic advice are spelled out in some detail in the structural reform proposals. I understand there are proposals there for the establishment of farm centres to provide training for the people who will provide this advice. The Minister may find it necessary to make some more fundamental changes in our system of agricultural education in order to provide this socio-economic advice that he apparently is prepared for at the moment.

In relation to the system of county committees of agriculture I will make only one point because I do not propose to deal in great detail with the system. It is very important that autonomy is retained for the bodies which are concerned with the provision of advice and with the other facilities which are at present available through the county committee system, that there will continue to be a guaranteed and substantial representation for people who have been elected by the people, namely, members of local authorities on those bodies. It is also important that there is in future a guaranteed minimum representation on those bodies for the farming organisations.

I should like to support the point made by Deputy Collins about the motion to annul the Agricultural Produce (Fresh Meat) Act, 1930, and Exporter's Licence Fees Regulations, 1964 and the Pigs and Bacon Act, 1935 (No. 3 Regulation), 1964. Those regulations contain a levy on the trade in beef and bacon. The purpose of this levy was not to provide funds for the Government but to provide money to be used directly to finance a research institute for meat. This has not occurred. On the 11th December, 1963 the then Minister for Agriculture stated:

No revenue will accrue to the State by reason of the increased fees produced and my Department will pay over to the trade's own research institute an amount equivalent to the proceeds of the increase in the fees plus additional contributions made by the State.

In a speech in Seanad Éireann on the 18th December, 1963 he stated:

I should like to make it clear that no extra revenue will accure to the State from the proposed increase in the fees.

These levies have been in operation since 1963. The money, initially, was put in a suspense account but since that it has all apparently been put into general purposes and has been spent by the State. The revenue has accrued to the State but the research institute which it was agreed should be set up for the financing of which the levy was introduced has not been established. The House deserves an explanation because what the House was told by Deputy Smith, who was then the Minister for Agriculture, has not transpired. The House supported these draft regulations on the assumption that this research institute would be set up. Therefore, Deputy E. Collins is to be congratulated on recognising this issue and putting down a motion to annul those regulations so that the matter can be discussed. It is unfortunate that specific time has not been provided to discuss this important issue and that, in fact, it is being lost in the maze of points being made in a very wide-ranging Agricultural Estimate.

I hope the importance of this question will be recognised by the media and that the Minister will give a satisfactory answer and will ensure that this money is made available for the financing of a research institute in meat. It should be clear, from all I have been saying about the meat trade, that research is vitally necessary to enable us to take the proper investment decisions for the future.

Deputy Keating.

I must protest about this rota system in operation. I was here all morning. The Deputy did not come in for one and a half hours following the commencement of the speech by the last speaker. I have been sitting here since 10.30 this morning but another Deputy can come in for a short while and be called. I want to make a protest about this.

Perhaps the Deputy would listen to the Chair for one moment. Before Deputy Bruton spoke Deputy Noonan of Fianna Fáil spoke for one hour and three minutes and it is the rule of the House that Deputies from all parties get an opportunity of expressing their views and that is the reason I am calling on Deputy Keating.

It is the rule of the House when Deputies are in the House, not when they are absent.

That is not necessarily so. Deputy Keating had been here for three hours.

I make my protest and I will put down a motion that we sit on Christmas Day to cancel it out.

I had not intended to exchange observations with Deputy Carter. I simply want to record that Deputy Bruton has been speaking since he resumed at 10.30 a.m., that I missed the first hour but I have been here for most of two hours. I have been here since 11.30 a.m. and Deputy Bruton has just finished. I do not wish to exchange pleasantries with Deputies but I should like to compliment Deputy Bruton. I did not hear all he said but I heard a large part of it. To me it seemed to be the result of careful research and study. He expressed opinions with which one agreed or disagreed—I agreed with many of them—based on knowledge and serious thought.

Deputy Bruton's was an example of a speech that in my view was interesting and useful. While listening to him I said to myself: "That is an interesting point, yes, that is an interesting question, yes, I should like to have some response to that," but one had the feeling that though it is useful to have such a speech on record— perhaps the media will pick up some of the points—from our experience of replies to questions and to debates, we can expect the Minister to ignore all this, to ignore all those remarks that were so interesting and so important. We have found absolutely central issues swept aside in a few sentences, in deliberate vagueness, in deliberate refusal to put before the House the information, scanty as it may be, that is available to the Minister.

I say "scanty" because I have the impression at this extraordinary turning point in Irish agriculture that the amount of study and forward planning being put into it is not anything like sufficient for the particularly crucial moment we find ourselves at. It is not just that the Minister will not tell us, that his civil servants will not tell us. The tragedy is that in many cases they do not know. To many of the questions Deputy Bruton has put here, pertinent, germane and important questions, they have not got the answers. We are at a time of indecision and relative inactivity in the Department and this is very serious for us.

I have read the Minister's speech though I might easily have played the game of taking last year's speech and seeing how the structure of this year's speech is basically the same, having been updated by 12 months—that this year's speech is that of 24 months ago, 36 months ago, 48 months ago, simply updated 12 months by 12 months, a little comment on this and that, a few pious ministerial platitudes. It was never adequate, but this year it is particularly inadequate because this year we are faced with extremely important choices and also with the situation, quite apart from the choices, where what happens to us in farming in Ireland during the next couple of decades depends on what we do now, on the initiatives taken, the plans made, the enthusiasms and confidence engendered now.

What I find depressing is not what is in the Minister's speech, the points touched on by Deputy Bruton, but the omissions. What we need now is a perspective in regard to Irish farming, and surely an occasion like this is one in which we discuss large issues, where we express our collective wisdom, such as it is, about the general direction of agriculture in the countries that have a bearing on us and of the general direction of agriculture in this country.

We must realise we are at a turning point because it seems we are likely to enter the Community. I say this though I oppose what I know to be the terms the Government are negotiating. I am convinced that whether we enter the EEC as full members on the Government's terms we will be able to negotiate outlets for our agricultural produce at higher levels of production than now and at Community prices. Let me say clearly that if I thought we would become a full member on the Government's terms and if the terms were to guarantee those prices and that increased volume—it will be an increased volume—then, such is the central position of agriculture in Ireland in the foreseeable future that I would conclude, notwithstanding all the reservations and worries I have, in the national interest this is something we would have to do.

I do not accept that. I believe there are many negotiating positions between the full membership the Government will negotiate and full membership on other terms, but I do not wish to anticipate the debate on the White Paper later.

I am looking to a time, I am taking it for granted that we are looking to a time, when we will have EEC prices for our produce with the possibility of increasing our present volume of exports—the possibility, not the certainly—by a mechanism of relationship with the Community the nature of which I do not know at the moment and it seems likely that the nature of that relationship will be on the terms the Government are negotiating. I will not go on to discuss that, but that is where we are at as a nation in relation to the perspectives of price and volume of agricultural production.

Anyone who follows the economic press closely will have seen that the 20-year boom, with a few little hiccoughs now and again, which got under way in the late forties, is over. There were a few hiccoughs in the sixties, a downturn in this country and that country. What is characterising the present events which started a year ago is that the traditional remedies are not working—when I say "traditional" I mean since the second world war. The Keynes techniques of regulating an economy are not working. Secondly, there is the synchronisation of standstill which is world-wide. The traditional mechanisms are not working. As a result of a recognition in mid-August of this, we had the important and complete reversal of the economic policy by the Nixon Government. This has a relevance to agriculture which I will indicate in a moment. We have got accustomed to thinking of the Community and of the economy of Western Europe in terms of good times. When things are bad, the daily Press and, indeed, the people cannot visualise anything but depression. In the last 20 years many European countries had a GNP increase of 4 per cent per annum. People thought that would go on for ever. We are not condemned to having a depression psychology, nor can we guarantee that we can chalk up the steady returns which we have had over the last 20 years. No pundits predicted those returns. No economist in the late 1940s was telling us about the coming 20 years of growth. This has a relevance to the agricultural policy of the Community.

We see a sharp economic conflict developing between the US and the Community. This expresses itself in the Nixon Phase One action of August last when the 10 per cent import surcharge was fixed. It expresses itself in the bitter bargaining about parity. It also expresses itself in a sharp attack by the Texas democrat who is now Nixon's economic expert, Mr. Connally, on the common agricultural policy. He also attacked the agricultural policies of the EEC and demanded that the CAP should be abandoned and that the highly protected nature of the European agricultural market should be ended because this market constitutes unfair competition. It was also demanded that the CAP be scrapped in its present form. The Americans may not win this struggle. They have criticised the arrangements between EFTA and the EEC. Now that we have world currency floats with the Community on one hand, the Americans playing the card game, as it were, with another hand, and the Japanese with another hand, we see major complications between the dollar area and the Six. The Six were conceived as an area which would be strong enough to stand up to not only the Russians but also to the United States. They are now carrying out the plans of those who envisaged the situation. They are now standing up to the dollar and beginning to function as an entity. The Americans are still saying, for political reasons, that they want European unity but they realise that they have generated an economic bloc which is in conflict with them. Politically, they still express support for a united Europe but economically they are sorry to see it happen.

The Americans will take what steps they can to damage the common agricultural policy and to diminish the drive towards a unified monetary situation inside the Community. That must have a bearing on our thinking about the way agriculture is likely to develop. I assume that we will supply at Community prices in larger volume than at present but perhaps not in unrestricted volume. Another thing which has a bearing on the evolution of the common agricultural policy is the state of competition between the major industrial nations. If we want to get an insight into the way the common agricultural policy is likely to evolve, such insight can be got from what has happened in other major trading groups. We can look back at the struggle between industry and the landowners' interests in Britain in the middle of the last century which culminated in the repeal of the corn laws.

In the United States the revolution in agriculture in this century is even more relevant. We can see the end of this 20 year phase. We can see the sharpened competition between the United States, Japan and the Community with a few peripheral countries having to enter into such competition as well. In those circumstances the price of food becomes a significant influence on the competitive power of each of these groups. In the last century there was a conflict in Britain between the industrialists who wanted to slow up the industrial exports of the whole world. They wanted to keep prices down and the finished industrial product to be as cheap as possible and, therefore, they wanted cheap food. The workers wanted the cheap food also. Much of their pay packets went on food. That is still the case. Both those sections of the Community wanted cheap food. On the other hand the landowners of Britain whose land was a source of their income wanted a dear food policy. That tug-of-war took place between them. Finally, the corn laws were appealed which was a victory for the new industrial bourgeoisie and they brought in cheap food from anywhere in the world in which they could get it. That helped their competitive position.

We have seen the US, the richest and most powerful economy in the world, where they now have an ever-diminishing section of their population involved in agriculture. They have the most modern industrialised agriculture in the world with huge productivity and great investments per man, but this has not brought prosperity to those people, except in the case of enormous ranches. The American farmer with tower silos and tremendous mechanism handling 130 dairy cows works very hard and sees his relative standard of living vis-à-vis the urban industrial worker deteriorating every year. He is not a rich man nor a man whose place in the sun is getting brighter every year. In fact, the income of agriculture in the sort of free market situation which exists in the US and which is the central idea of the Treaty of Rome leads to a situation where the long-term desire of industrialists and of the organised urban working class is for cheaper food, whereas the long-term desire of the agricultural producer is for dear food. They are on opposite ends of a rope.

In the fifties and the sixties there were circumstances which were very largely political. They had nothing to do with economics. They had to do with the instability of Europe after the war when peasants—and that is an abusive word in Ireland but let us use it; the Europeans accept it—were bought off with extremely high food prices. We looked at those prices in the late fifties and early sixties with awe and envy.

In reality the real price of food in the Community has been coming down sharply. This is the reason why 100,000 people were out in Brussels in the spring of this year in the demonstration in which one of the demonstrators was killed. The real position of small producers inside the Community vis-à-vis their brothers or their cousins whom they know and who are working in factories—they can compare their standard of living, their house, their car—is now diminishing. They are losing the race notwithstanding the enormous prices, by our standards, they are getting, and notwithstanding the great boom which is now over, which carried industry along and which sucked in workers from outside the Community.

If we are talking to the Irish people about farming this year and saying to them: "Join the Community for the sake of agriculture" we must talk to them about perspectives. We must talk to them about the forces at work. Those who are deeply involved in the building of the Community are plausible, and are salesmen. Those are slightly contemptuous and pejorative terms and I do not mean them entirely that way. They are also committed to what they are doing. Anybody who puts 15 years of care and passion and labour into something, gets to love it or hate it. All the spokesmen of the Community clearly are deeply involved in the building of that Community. They are in love with the labour they have undertaken, not unnaturally. They have done very remarkable things. They have built a great structural edifice in the years since 1st January, 1958, when the reality started as distinct from the Treaty. That makes them salesmen for it. We are inclined to listen to them and not to see the risks and the dangers.

If we are talking about agricultural investments we are not talking in terms of a year or five years. We are talking in decades if we have any sense. We must have good planning. You do not plant orchards for this year. You do not breed good cattle for this year. Anybody with a sensible breeding policy—except where the rate of reproduction is very rapid as in the case of poultry and pigs—cannot change direction. You cannot have significant gains rapidly. You have to think in decades. There is, perhaps, a slightly more gloomy and slightly more pessimistic prognosis for the future in long-term arguments. I do not think Mansholt is relevant to Ireland. I do not think he is a wicked man. In fact, I think he is quite an altruistic person. He is functioning in a country where there is booming industry and a shortage of labour, where there are plenty of industrial jobs for displaced people. That is his base. He was Minister for Agriculture for his own country for 13 years before he became Commissioner for Agriculture. That is what he knows.

The point is that when you get a restructuring á la Mansholt to get bigger farms, you do not guarantee prosperity thereby for people who remain in farming, if the American example is of any value to us. For economic reasons, on which one could spend time which I do not propose to do, one could indicate the factors which have been heavily researched and argued about—and I am not pretending this is an exact science—such as the factors which determine agricultural prices. In the long run, while political decisions can distort these factors over a period of five or ten years, they cannot alter the final balance very much in the sort of free market situation the Community envisage.

There is no really free market except for poor unfortunate primary producers. In no evolved country is there a free market for agricultural products. This is an area where traditional capitalism—to use that word for want of a better one—has ceased to operate long since. In the past half century there has not been traditional capitalism in the agricultural areas of evolved countries. Nevertheless, the argument for cheap foods inside the Community on the part of both the industrial working class who are organised and coherent and able to set about obtaining their objective in a very effective way, and industry as well, tends to diminish the real price paid for food and will tend to move towards a cheap food policy.

There we are in regard to a European evolution. I am not saying that the picture I have just given is a complete one. I can never find the quotation but I remember reading about a man who promised to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, but not the whole truth because there was not time. There certainly is not time today to tell the whole truth about Irish agriculture. We had a long speech from Deputy Bruton and I do not propose to speak for as long. I know that when I sit down I will have left unsaid many things that I want to say. Perhaps that is just as well.

The point I am making is that I am not trying to give a balanced truth now. I am trying to redress a balance because all the talking on agriculture seems to me to have been the other way. Some of it was very serious and very worthy of being looked at and listened to. Some of it was as tawdry and trivial and deceptive as this document on the Common Market and Irish agriculture that was put out by the Department of Foreign Affairs. This is terrible stuff. This is propaganda. It does not give a balanced picture. I am not saying that my picture is balanced either. I am trying to put factors into the general assessment of the scene which will enable people who are receiving all the arguments to see the matter in a balanced way. I am saying the negative thing. I will have occasion to say positive things in a moment. That is where we are in a world sense.

A profoundly important thing happened even before the Community with its high prices came on the scene. In the past few decades, the great millstone around the development of Irish agriculture and, indeed, the Irish countryside, Irish towns and Irish industries that depend on agriculture has been the British price support system. This is a simple piece of imperialism. The word "imperialism" is used about Britain in inverted commas and with a capital letter by republicans. That is one of the meaningless words that we use very frequently. Imperialism is used as a term of abuse towards Britain. I am not using it in that sense. Call it neo-colonialism or anything else you like.

This was a system under which you insulated your own farmers with large subventions of the order of hundreds of millions of pounds a year, and then you bought some of your food on the world market and, whether they were kith or kin suppliers in New Zealand who sold it cheap, or whether they were poor unfortunate black Africans, or Argentinians, or Irish, did not matter. This was the system under which you kept your own farmers reasonably happy, you protected your own agricultural industry, and you exploited all your suppliers. This has been an awful millstone for us. Be it said in fairness that much of the development of this system was the work of Labour Governments in Britain. From these benches I ought to make that clear. It was not just the work of the Tories. It has ended.

It was made clear by the British Conservative Party for reasons of their own, I think, not altruistic reasons, and reasons we need not now unravel, that if they came to power they would abandon that system. They were moving away from it and they will move further towards abandoning it. Let us not go into it in detail, but Britain is abandoning her system of direct subsidies to farmers. and without intervention she is passing on to the consumer, by way of large subventions from public moneys, the prices that the farmers are getting. It may be that in adopting a system similar to that of the Community, she was preparing for membership or it may be that she would have adopted the system regardless of whether she joined. Therefore, for many years we have been reaping the benefits in relation to the prices of butter and cheese, for example. That has been altered in the past year and, consequently, we are at a turning point in Irish agriculture because that British price support system is ending anyway and Britain is by far our biggest market and will be so for some time to come. We are faced with prices that, in a decade, may not be so good but which are certainly very good now in respect of livestock products. This may not be so interesting in other aspects. When I say "interesting" I mean an advantageous increase of, say, 50 per cent. Increases of that magnitude may not be liked by the housewife but will certainly be welcomed by the farmers in terms of prices.

Therefore, we must say to ourselves that that, then, is the perspective— short time, short term, sharp increases in prices and we can be released from the quotas that have limited our volume. Long-term diminishing real prices, increasing competitiveness and diminishing profit margins constitute the scene for Irish agriculture and when the Community markets are open to us, either totally by full membership or in some less total mechanism, we will still be faced with the reality that it is a two-way trade and that there are vast potentialities for agricultural production inside the Community and that if we can put produce on their market, they, too, can put produce on our market. If people wish to think about those vast potentialities I recommend them to go, not to developed Holland or Denmark which, of course, is not yet a member, but rather to go to those areas of France where there is sufficient rainfall to grow grass and where the climate is warmer than here and where the areas in question are vastly greater than in either Holland or Denmark. France is a big country with various climates and terrain. They, as are most countries in Western Europe at the moment, are managing their economy well and are getting rich rapidly. They have on hand large amounts of capital. It is a country that is much more wealthy than ours and which has financial institutions on a scale that we do not have. Therefore, if they get the message, they can get economies of production because of their natural situation, their climate, rainfall, and so on to compare with ours and they can get capital sources on a much greater scale as they get farm rationalisation. Their problem now is bad farming in the technical sense and also that their farms are small and fragmented. However, these are problems that are in the course of being solved. They have the industry to absorb displaced workers inside their own country. They have huge supplies of capital from big financial institutions and from a dynamic industry so that there is a very real threat of two things, first, of their producing in the food industry at prices that we cannot match—I mean prices for finished goods because there would be uniform prices for basic raw materials—and, secondly, of their coming in and gaining economic control of significant sections of our food industry.

I notice that the Minister said rather complacently that we could fight any invasion of our food industries by overseas moneys. That could be done by rich private businesses, but we do not have private business on that scale, or if there were a strong, highly developed structure and co-operative movement which would go all the way through from the field to the final branded product, but no individual farmer or small business man is strong enough to fight off the big money if it becomes right economically. There is no way by which we can build that sort of protection for ourselves under Community rules. Let us try, then, to have a perspective for the development of Irish agriculture and this is what seems to be missing from the Minister's speech. When those pessimistic words are said, let me talk about our perspective in this way: now we have a choice—either we can generate the capital inputs, the marketing structures and the technical revolution and take advantage of the ending of the British single market and their price support system, take advantage of the opportunities that are opening up to us or, else, other people in the UK and in France will do it more rapidly and more vigorously than us and we will become merely a commercial appendage of theirs. Whether we gain depends on planning decisions, confidence, enthusiasm engendered now or, if not now, within the next few months because we do not have an indefinite amount of time.

European agriculture has been enjoying the high prices and has had a head start for some time now. There is a tendency to think that agriculture is not very big business but if one looks, for example, at the list of the largest companies in the world such as the American meat giants or Unilever or if one looks at the amalgamation that has taken place in the French dairying industry or at the Grace company which are powerful in Ireland already, one will see that some of the greatest concentrations of huge, wealthy, multinational companies are in the area of the food industry. When certain traditional areas such as steel and, recently, chemicals show contracting profit margins, the profit margin in the big food industry is, relatively speaking, rather good yet. It is an attractive area into which big money can seek investment.

Last week at the 25th anniversary conference of the Irish Grassland and Animal Production Association Michael Walshe read what I considered to be a very interesting paper. Perhaps before talking briefly about that paper I might put on the record my sense of intense regret that Michael Walshe is not working for the Institute of Agriculture but that, instead, is working for the World Bank. I am sure that I speak for many Irish farmers when I say that. The World Bank's gain is our loss at this time. For me and for many others it was a great pleasure to see him back in Ireland and it was very interesting to listen to him. Nobody doubts the technical contributions that he and the team around him, the team which he got together and inspired at the Dairy Research Centre of the Institute in Moore Park, have made to the technique of Irish grassland farming, particularly in respect of milk production.

Now in the World Bank context he is looking at the world as a whole and he has beside him the expertise of other bankers, of economists and different disciplines. He is not a light-hearted person. I do not mean in character. I mean that the content of his thought is serious and profound. We have to offer to farmers the sort of perspective that he talked about. The paper was widely reproduced so I shall not reproduce bits of it. In a decade he is talking—it is quite real, feasible and practical—of increasing the output of the agricultural sector from half a billion pounds to one and a half billion in round figures, that is a growth of 200 per cent. An industry with an output of one and half billion a year is a very substantial industry and if you get that growth then you find that we are already a little bit short of people in the countryside.

One of the things that worry me about Mansholt is that in the circumstances of Ireland without industry on the European scale once you get the breakdown of rural communities then you get an emptying such as happened in other parts of the world when rural society broke up. There are places in Ireland where that has already started to happen and places where it is not too far from happening. If you can get that sort of growth of output and say: "How much per man and how many people do we need to do it?" then you find that with the exodus from the countryside that has already taken place there is work for everybody and you do not need further allowances.

Therefore, this perspective of large growth soon is very important for holding the fabric of rural society in Ireland. I have said before that a great deal of the Celtic culture, which is one of the strands of Irish culture, is embedded in rural society and if we lose that rural society we lose the Celtic culture too. Therefore, the protection of a whole lot of aspects of this nation which are very important to us come to revolve around getting agricultural output up fast in a planned way.

Michael Walshe then goes on to make the point that not so long ago industrial and agricultural exports were 50/50, with industry nosing ahead; now it is about 2/1. Industrial exports are about twice as great as agricultural exports. But if you look at investment in those two sectors the ratio is 10/1. Industry is getting in ten times as much investment this year in Ireland as agriculture is getting— approximately £100 million for industry, perhaps a little less. Let us not say ten times, let us say seven, lest anybody say I am pushing the figures. Let us say the investment in industry is seven times higher. The contribution to exports from industry is only twice as high. There is this tremendous disparity.

I have been accepting, in talking about it, that industry and agriculture are different things but in regard to the approach to planning, to investment, to management, they are not different things. Agriculture is the agricultural industry which is one section of industry but it is a section that has been starved of capital. It is also a section, if the projections about price that we have got are at all true, which is one of the most profitable in certain areas that we possess. Michael Walshe has arrived at this interesting global figure and I do not think one can argue about the essential general correctness of it, that over a decade if we are to get these sort of benefits in Irish farming, if we are to take advantage of community possibilities, then we need £1,000 million worth of industry, £100 million a year for ten years. It is a terrifying figure in a way and yet it is the approximate size of our overseas assets at this moment both public and private. Of course it does not have to be all put in as cash from the outside because some of that represents growth in dairy cows, beef cattle and the rest of it which, provided you give them a suitable environment and feed them, actually grow as your capital so that you do not have to pump it in. You do, of course, have to pump in the building, fertilisers, et cetera, but the beauty of livestock is that, apart from making money, they grow physically so that that does not represent a total imput from outside.

The results of Community possibilities whether by full membership or some other arrangement depend very much on what we do now. We are late starters in this. The French, Italians, Germans and Dutch have been living with it, thinking about it, seeing the possibilities and making relatively bigger profits for 14 years. Certain farmers in the Community have been making huge profits like the grain farmers of the Paris basin, who are big anyway. They are much more attuned to the possibilities of going in and scooping the pool of what we have to offer than we are attuned to the possibilities of scooping their pool. They are bigger, richer and commercially stronger. The attitude of mind that you sit and open your mouth and wait for the fruit of higher Community prices to drop into it is disastrously wrong. All right, there are opportunities, but the realisation of those opportunities depends on what we do now because in five years time it will be too late and in ten years time it will be much too late.

This is crucially important for Irish farming, the Irish countryside and the Irish economy because this is a thing we do well. It is in the spin-off industries from agriculture that we can be really competitive. If we do not present now a perspective for getting the investment to Irish farmers it will be too late in five or ten years time for those people will own us—I do not mean own the land, I mean own the industries associated with farming and they will have a grip on our production, our exports and market. This is the central defect I see in the Minister's speech—the sense of challenge, excitement, possibility, the sense that at last in Irish farming you will get returns commensurate with your effort and that the millstone of the British price support is off our necks at last, the sense that, in fact, it is a new ball game. That was completely missing. We have to give that sense of perspective and that sort of courage and willingness to take risks and the assurance of planning and protection and of fighting for their interests to Irish farmers. I am not going to dwell on that protection of interest in great detail but we see in this matter of all sorts of failures in processing, marketing, product development, just how badly Irish farming is being serviced in that way.

The Minister refers rather timidly to such things as the bacon processing industry. It is easy and it is laudable to say that there are many inefficient factories and that one will have to give some money for some of them to get out of business and that we need rationalisation. Fine, great. It is 1971. Everything that is timidly expressed in the Minister's speech has been obvious to anyone who wanted to look for a long, long time and it is a mechanism to divert irritation from oneself to point to a defect and say, "We must do such and such", and people will say, "Fine. The Minister said there was a defect and that something must be done about it." But, the fact that there has been a defect and that that defect has been unremedied for so long and that in the area of processing pigmeat we are quite unfit for Europe and very inefficient, is the Minister's fault more than the fault of any other single person and he cannot divert that responsibility by uttering the pious platitudes that are contained in his speech. When I say the Minister, I do not mean Deputy Gibbons in person; I mean the succession of Deputies who have been Minister for Agriculture.

It is a principle of our system of running a State that, in the immortal words of Harry Truman, in regard to Ministers, "the buck stops here". The Minister is the responsible person but there is some overspill of responsibility on to the Minister's servants. I have said many more complimentary things about civil servants in this Dáil in the last two years than I ever expected to say five years ago. As I have seen them more closely I have appreciated them more. When that is said—and I do not mean to belabour people who cannot defend themselves and I am certainly not naming names—I think rather less than the amount of vigour and initiative and incisiveness and attacking of problems has come from senior people in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in this area than we might have expected and hoped for, though, of course, ultimately, it is a political responsibility and a ministerial responsibility and that cannot be escaped. I have the sort of feeling that, perhaps, if the creative energies of the civil servants in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries were to be released by a creative and vigorous Minister, we might see them—and I say this without mockery, absolutely sincerely —working prodigies for Irish farming. I hope to live to see that happen.

The area of processing—processing is too narrow a word—the section from the raw material the farmer produces until it is on the shelves of the supermarket is the area I am talking about, which means product development, the factories, packaging, market research, advertising—everything—I am not going to take them section by section; that would take too long—the success stories are very few. They are there to prove that we are able to do it but they are very few, very scattered and the basic picture we see is that that whole area between the farm gate and the supermarket shelf is so inefficient, so broken up, so divided between different authority centres and development organisations and private companies, and all the rest of it, that it will be quite unable to protect us, quite unable to protect its own independence in commercial terms when there is free movement of capital and will be quite unable to compete and to protect Irish farmers. This is a very serious defect.

We talked about pig processing. What about the situation of creamery rationalisation? Is it ten, 20, or 30 years ago that it was obvious that the size of many of the creamery units was too small to have the sort of scale of operation that could give the right price and the right return to their members? You did not have to be clairvoyant, you did not have to be clever, you did not have to be up to date a quarter of a century ago for this to be clear. So, it is no use trying to turn away criticism and blame by again uttering platitudes about the need for rationalisation. It is as simple as this: if we do not rationalise the creamery industry under vigorous, central leadership quickly, then under Community rules somebody else will and it will not be co-operative organisations owned and controlled by Irish farmers. They are a cinch to be pushed out of the way by big commercial operators if they do not rationalise and already it is long, long overdue.

One could go on to the dead meat trade. I am very pleased that Irish farmers bought IMP. I am very pleased that we have moved to export so much of our beef production in terms of processed meat rather than live animals. These are progressive and welcome developments but, if you move into a circumstance of the Community, then the tug-of-war between the live trade and the dead meat trade, the factory trade, gets sharper and it is not just the British but you may have European buyers coming in competing with the factory and indeed you will have a veal trade that we have never had before, competing for the very young animals, and the circumstance that your dead meat trade is competing with the dead meat trade of other countries and then, factory by factory, you will be going on how much productivity per man, on what sort of throughputs you can get, on what is the real cost of processing 1 lb. of beef, or whatever it is and if we are not competitive there, we will suffer for that lack of competitiveness; not just the factories but the farmers.

I do not think it is a secret and I hope I am not doing any harm— certainly I do not intend to; my intention is the opposite—that some of the meat processing factories in Ireland are in difficulties at the moment. That is not a secret. It is not a secret that in terms of industrial efficiency, in terms of output per man, productivity, cost per unit produced, et cetera, I am putting it no more sharply than to say there is room for a lot of progress and that we need to make this progress fairly fast if instead of being an appendage of a dynamic agriculture in other parts of the Community, we are to be a dynamic agriculture ourselves.

What I keep coming back to is this fact of choice, the fact of the importance of what we do now, the fact of the importance of rationalising and strengthening and retaining Irish, and if possible, co-operative control over all of the industry between the farm gate and the supermarket shelf. I keep coming back to the fact that either we do that now or we lose all control over these things. In other words, the need now is to get ready, to strengthen competitive positions and to get the capital inputs which will enable benefits to be reaped, because nothing in this area will come automatically and, if anyone thinks that there are not vigorous, tough and, in many cases, ruthless and dynamic organisations, and very large ones, in the food processing industry in Europe, then it will be easy for him to disabuse himself by going around Europe and sensing the atmosphere in a number of European countries.

I should like to add my voice, without much hope of result perhaps, to that of Deputy Bruton in asking for clarification about a number of things in the common agricultural policy. I should like to be clear about the thresholds of the application of CAP in two respects. I appreciate, of course, that you cannot quantify the answer to the question I am asking to the last £. I am enough of a realist to understand you can quantify it only approximately. The situation we are in is that, because an answer to the last cannot be given, we are given no answer at all. Let us have a serious effort to quantify an answer to the question as to below what level will benefit under the common agricultural policy be cut off from small farmers. That is the crucial question in making a decision on our small farmers. They want to know are they too small to be in or have they a chance of getting into benefit. We want to know, as politicians and as people who have not just a particular interest but a global responsibility, what percentage of Irish farmers will, in fact, be gathered into the net of Mansholt benefits and how many will be left outside it. We will need some serious quantification and discussion and much more information about the question of present State aims, the continuation of them, and what the situation in regard to them will be in the transition period.

There is a refusal, it seems to me, to answer these questions. Perhaps now is the moment to say that I have been distressed and annoyed at the cavalier way in which serious questions are brushed aside by the Minister. I might as well refer to one now. It illustrates my point. A few days ago I asked the Minister about the control of foot-and-mouth disease. As a veterinary surgeon I have a professional interest in this. There is a sharp conflict in our discussions in Brussels about vaccinated animals protected from foot-and-mouth disease being permitted into the UK and into Ireland. The actual animal health regulations are an area of conflict in Brussels and the conflict is not currently resolved. I want to make clear the attitude of Irish farmers and the position of the Irish veterinary profession in regard to these matters. I believe this would strengthen our negotiating position and help our negotiators. I believe it is a matter of very great importance and I shall return to it again. I asked the Minister a general question:

To ask the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if there are any circumstances in which he is prepared to abandon present policy for the control of foot-and-mouth disease by slaughter;...

a legitimate, relevant, important question at the moment; no trap, no argument, quite unloaded:

and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I got 2½ lines in reply, which the Minister refused to amplify. The reply was:

I cannot foresee any circumstances in which I would be prepared to abandon the present policy for the controls of foot-and-mouth disease by slaughter.

Full stop. That is contemptuous of Parliament. It is contemptuous of Deputies. It is contemptuous of the mechanism of Question Time. I could elicit no further information except a snide suggestion by the Minister that I was being unhelpful in my supplementary questions. I ask very few questions of the Minister because I have a pain in the face from getting answers like that. I know I will not get answers. There are other Deputies who ask questions, more diligent, perhaps, than I am, and they get the same evasions.

What is so secret about these things? The only thing I really like about the bureaucrats in Brussels is that they do not have the same attitude towards supplying information that our people have got. You cannot hatch statistics like eggs; they do not come out if you sit on them long enough. The European civil servants have a tradition of giving one all the information they can, short of disclosures on matters of special sensitivity. We have a collection of Ministers who want to scramble something through without discussion, on the one hand, and civil servants who believe that the less the public know the better, on the other hand. They deny us the information and a great deal of the distrust, the worry, the feeling of being brainwashed on the part of the community comes precisely from these attitudes. We had the extraordinary spectacle in the last few days, when Dr. Mansholt gave a Press conference, of two reputable, experienced agricultural journalists, Mr. Browner of the Irish Times and Mr. Norton of the Irish Independent commenting that now, in fact, the facts were coming out and it was not nearly as rosy as we had been lead to believe. I am sick of it and I do not see much hope of any willingness to divulge information. I want to beg— it is not pleasant to beg—for a change of attitude on this so that we can get some information we can digest and think about seriously.

I want to turn now to a small number of more detailed matters raised in the Minister's speech. I will not do as Deputy Bruton did. I do not think, for me, there is merit in commenting on a whole series of technical matters. The Minister talked about AI and the scale of its use. It would be well, I think, for me to put on record my feelings both as a farmer and as a veterinary surgeon about the AI service. Let me say, by way of baseline on this subject, that there are countries which have very good livestock where you simply do not see a bull from one end of a day's drive to another because the farmers do not keep them. All the breeding of their cattle is done by AI. Denmark is an example where they consider this to be satisfactory.

If farmers were told they could not keep bulls and had to depend on AI there would be a howl of fury from them. All over the country bulls of mediocre quality or of no quality at all are sweeping up after the AI service. They are having a very bad effect on the quality of our national herd. There is widespread dissatisfaction about the actual service of getting cows in calf all over the country. I shall talk about the question of a national breeding programme in a moment. I believe we have a task to raise the actual technique of efficiency of the AI service to a more satisfactory level. This is a real issue. It is a source of irritation and a matter of cost. Keeping a bull is a measurable, quantifiable expense and what has to be spent on fences, buildings, et cetera, is significant particularly for small farmers. If we had an AI service in which farmers could feel the same confidence as the Danes feel about their AI service, the question of keeping a bull would never enter their minds as a worry and such a service would be a real economic gain to them. We have to make comparisons between our AI service and AI services in other countries. We have to liberate farmers from the necessity of keeping bulls to the extent they keep them at present.

I want to deal now with the quality of our livestock. Deputy Bruton spoke about the various components of efficiency in the use of grass by grazing livestock. I am not talking about pigs or poultry. I am talking only about beef and dairy cattle. Two crucial things which are simple to deal with are the stocking rate and the efficiency of the actual animal machine. The animal machines we have are poor compared with the possibilities we have. AI is a convenience in the sense that farmers do not have to keep a bull but if it were that and nothing more there would be very little justification in the amount of research and effort that has gone into it worldwide. AI is, in fact, a mechanism for having national breeding schemes which raise the quality of the livestock rapidly towards quantifiable goals. In this area we are extremely deficient and defective. With regard to milk and beef are there goals at which farmers can aim? I do not claim expertise, I claim informed knowledge after a lifetime of contact and thought about the matter and I think there are goals to aim at because milk and beef are not separable. Farmers will never get efficient beef if they only depend on a cow having one calf a year and rearing it. A single suckling has a place but the costs are enormous even though the cost of beef may justify it.

What is wanted is a cow that gives twice the national average amount of milk—there are countries that have twice our national average for their whole dairy herd—which gives a calf which grows fast, converts food efficiently and does not lay on fat. We have to think ahead about beef requirements and in this regard what Deputy Bruton said was both interesting and correct.

We live in the shadow of the prime beef of the last century in Britain where people froze during the winter and used tremendous fat intakes to keep warm. The Americans took their attitude to fat prime beef from the British and we still accept old fashioned British and American attitudes as to what beef ought to be. People want beef which is young and lean. They are not worried about flavour. Producers want to produce it efficiently and they get it from bull beef which is what the Germans are demanding. Whether or not it is bull beef, the tendency is towards the fast growing lean young animal. With all the cholesterol worries, the overweight worries and the coronary worries one does not have to be clairvoyant to realise that food tastes in Britain and America are going to move more towards the Continental idea of youth and leanness. The Continentals are not going to move towards the maturer, fatter beef of Britain and the United States. As it is not possible to make changes in beef breeding, objectives will have to be identified quickly.

The objective of national breeding should be a cow that gives 1,000 gallons and gives a calf which grows fast and converts efficiently. These are reconcilable goals. I agree with Deputy Bruton that in regard to milk quality nobody wants very much fat in milk beyond the 3½ or 4 per cent. It is obvious we ought to be breeding to get up total solids and protein. It is antiquated and moving in the wrong direction to breed on butter fat and it is also antiquated and moving in the wrong direction to breed for the single production of beef or milk. We need a thousand gallon cow, with breeding for total solids, getting AI bulls with contemporary comparisons that we know will give daughters better than their dada—this is perfectly possible but it is not being done—and also give offspring that will grow fast and convert efficiently. In other words, there should be no bull in an AI station anywhere that does not have positive figures for milk in terms of contemporary comparisons of improving milk yields but simultaneously does not have positive figures about growth rate and feed conversion. If we are not doing that, we are not using existing knowledge and we shall fall behind our competitors. We also need crossing bulls of the Charollais, Simmenthal type so that when our dairy herd is big enough we can use beefy bulls on the surplus ones.

Vigour and clarity in producing this sort of cow which will be the foundation of both a dairy industry and a lean, fast-growing, profitable beef industry seems to me to be the direction in which progress has to go. There have been many changes of policy. We have had policy running in parallel. We have had breeding societies doing their separate thing and we now have a good deal of confusion.

Britain used to be the stock farm of the world and as we were an appendage of Britain with the same stocks we sat back and felt great but breeders all over the world have pulled ahead of us in all sorts of ways. We have the best climate in Northern Europe for a wonderful grass growth but we have neglected for a long time to use existing knowledge and more efficient animal machines to do that processing and that is hampering and will continue to hamper our farmers.

In passing, may I say a word about the quality of butter in Dublin? We see a tug-of-war between margarine and butter everywhere. As a milk producer I am on the side of butter, I might as well declare my prejudice, but I find that the quality of butter sold in Dublin is such as will diminish butter consumption and turn people away from it. Perhaps we are exporting the good butter; I hope we are, but rancid and disgraceful butter of very poor quality is being sold to Dublin people and it is diminishing their respect for butter and their consumption of it. You may have great advertising campaigns saying "Butter is the cream" and pump out public money but would it not also be nice if we made the product better? That would also help to sell it. The poor quality of the butter sold in Dublin will have a long-term bad effect on consumption.

I want to speak about animal diseases, again something in which I have a professional interest. I shall first talk about our negotiations in general terms. We are an island beyond an island off the coast of a continent. Once you stand at Calais you can travel by land to the end of Siberia or down to the tip of South Africa. There is a huge land mass with most of the people of the world living there. We have the barrier of the English Channel and of the Irish Sea. We have grass and we have concentration on livestock production and a good climate. This gives us the responsibility to be the best stock farmers with the best stocks in the world but it also gives us the responsibility to have the most disease-free stock in the world. We have the responsibility because we have the possibility. Prevailing winds come in from the south-west and we have two barriers. By world standards the British are very efficient in their animal health regulations and they are a protection between Europe and ourselves. We have two stretches of water and we have the British, with good veterinary services and high standards, as protection. Some countries have natural advantages in oil or minerals: we have a natural advantage in regard to livestock production because of our location and it is our duty to take advantage of it, just as if it were a coalfield, and protect it.

We do not know, because we have not been told, how the animal health negotiations are going in Brussels but we know the interests of certain European farmers. They recognise that we have export advantages by being free of certain diseases, notably foot-and-mouth; they recognise the imporance of this to the American market. Their wish is to minimise that advantage. Mansholt can make nice noises when he comes here and say, as Commissioner for Agriculture and the most important man in farming in the Community, "Yes, I think you should protect your disease-free status." I need to be convinced that the same point of view is being pushed from the Community side in the negotiations but I am not so convinced. I think there are pressures, for example, to permit into Ireland animals that have been vaccinated against foot-and-mouth disease and thereby to introduce a situation other than a slaughter policy for the control of foot-and-mouth disease. I was very glad to get the Minister's assurance that we shall not yield to these pressures but we are under pressure in the negotiations in regard to animal health regulations. My conviction is that we must use those regulations not to make us uniform with the rest of Europe, not to have a situation in which there is free movement of livestock with the rest of the Community but, in fact, to have a situation in which we have no such free movement and in which we guarantee and extend our special position as one of the places in the world most free of animal disease.

I say as a "vet" and as a farmer that my conviction is—and I have a part in it—that any concession by any Minister or negotiator in Brussels on these issues will be met with the most ferocious organised resistance not only by the farmers but also by the veterinary surgeons who have a responsibility for animal health also. We hope there will be no weakening. I say this to strengthen the hand of any negotiators from the Irish side. The leaders of my own profession, apart from those employed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, are a little depressed and disappointed that they have not been taken into the confidence of the negotiators and more fully consulted on this issue which is very important for our long-term development as the place that ought to have and can have the best and most disease-free livestock in the world. That is easy to say but there is no reason for it to be otherwise in view of our geographical position and climate. If we do not make it a truth over the next quarter-century it will be an omission and a stupidity on our part. It will be our fault.

We had a big, elaborate and expensive scheme for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis which has almost achieved total success. There has been a little breakdown here and there but it was a great national effort and, by and large, had very good results. One could fault it in certain ways and it certainly cost a lot of money. Many members of my own profession became possessors of some farms, chemists' shops, large cars, jewellery, racehorses, fur coats and so on, as a result of it.

An interesting comment.

It is true and, I think, many members of my own profession recognise it is true.

It did not help them as veterinary surgeons.

I do not think so. I do not think it was, in fact, in the profession's own interest and I think the most sincere and dedicated members of the profession recognise that it did not, and that this easy money for testing was not good for the profession. However, that is water under the bridge. There is a little lingering residue but nothing serious and nothing that cannot be contained.

We are now in a brucellosis situation. We began eradication in the north-west and there, as anybody could have predicted, it went well and quite rapidly but when it moved down into the more intensive dairying areas— this is the pattern that is recognised all over the world—and specifically when it got to places like Meath with big dairy herds it was found to be a terrible problem. I shall not argue about where the scheme started or might have started because that is also water under the bridge and it is easy to be wise afterwards and it is not helpful. Certain things have been done and nobody suggests they should be undone or that you can make rapid strategic alterations in the fundamental plan adopted. I am trying to be constructive about this. Farmers are being put out on the road this year because the milk cheque is down so much as a result of brucellosis that they cannot meet the extra commitments many of them undertook and which I and the Department's servants among others advised them to take on—get more cows, borrow more and build more buildings, more milk parlours and get more fertilisers, et cetera. Then comes a big slump in the milk cheque as a result of brucellosis and you cannot meet commitments. It is a very serious matter in certain counties at the moment. It is serious in a number of ways and I shall not spend too long on it. However, one of the ways in which progress can be made is by making the voluntary scheme more attractive.

Let me talk about the voluntary scheme in the light of my experience. I know about it because I am participating in it. I know about it because a dairy herd in which I was interested, which for many years was brucellosisfree and which was carefully and meticulously vaccinated first with Strain 19 and then with the 45/20 killed vaccine, broke down, and we are in the process of killings. We can identify a cow as of reactor, and there is nothing in the world to stop us from putting her into a trailer and driving her off 30 or 40 miles and selling her to some farmer who will be buying brucellosis from us. I am not striking a righteous attitude when I say we do not do that. We take her to the factory and we take whatever she gets by weight in the factory. However, we are losing a fair amount of money every time we take such an animal to the factory instead of flogging her to some other farmer. There is an actual cash incentive to sell her to some farmer, because as participants in the scheme we shall get the extra benefit, but the factory price plus the extra money will not make the market value of the good pedigree Friesians we possess. Sending them to the factory in the first place there is a loss there to begin with, and then we shall not get the second sum of money from the Department until we are completely clear, and goodness knows when that will be, so in the meantime we are at the loss of that.

The scheme is so designed as to be no incentive for anyone to participate in it. If anyone has good cows, if he is simply being cute, as soon as he thinks one is a reactor he will flog her to somebody who will buy her without asking questions and he will thus spread the disease. That may not be good for the farmer that buys the diseased animal, but it is still perfectly legal. We need to build up fairly quickly a pool of cattle that are free from brucellosis, and we need to do this by the voluntary schemes in areas where the disease is too serious for the whole county to be taken over because it will produce enormous dislocation. I am admitting I have an interest in this—and if anyone wants to throw it at me he is welcome, because I am involved in it—but the scheme as it now exists is not attractive to farmers, and it is an incentive to them to behave in the way I have described. I would point the finger of moral superiority at no man who did that, because if you are worrying about how you can pay your bills and how you can look after your children it is not easy to take these decisions. If that scheme is to be a success, if it is to be taken up widely, if we are to get the pool of brucellosis free animals built up outside the clearance areas quickly then the scheme must be made more attractive and made more attractive quickly.

I want to say a word about horticulture for two reasons. Deputy Bruton talked interestingly about it. It is also something we are not inclined to think about very much in the postulated oncoming EEC situation; perhaps yes, perhaps no, but we shall certainly have a relationship with the EEC if not full membership. I am also moved to say something about it because in my constituency of North County Dublin it is very important. This stretch of land close to the sea north of Dublin city is the centre of the horticultural industry.

I want to tell the House of a conversation I had with a Dutch Member of Parliament within the last month. He is from a horticultural area. He is passionately in favour of the Community and he knows my opinion about it, and has a very different complexion from my own. We have plenty of reasons to disagree with each other. He is pro EEC and a Member of a Conservative Party. At Strasbourg I asked him how was the Dutch glasshouse industry and he said: "We are very efficient. Our marketing is very good. Our research and advisory services are very good. There is no crisis, but people are not investing in it any more". When I asked why they are not investing in it any more, he said: "We grow things under glass with purchased heat which will grow in the open with no glass and no heat inside the Community. It happens that in Southern France and more especially in Italy they are putting stuff into big trucks and driving them up to the population centres. I am not suggesting that the throat of the horticultural industry has been cut, but the people who are looking a decade ahead and thinking where to put their capital are not putting it into glass any more."

This is an industry in Holland, which is a much warmer land than one would expect from its geographical position and which has a legendary efficiency in glasshouse production. Their technique, their research, their strains of plants, their designs of glasshouses and so on are all very good, and their marketing is again legendary. Yet they do not see long-term profitability in horticulture. They are not scrapping the investments they have but they are not creating new ones.

That seems to me to have a relevance for the Irish horticultural industry in general and to my constituency in particular. The area is not big but if you work it out in pounds it is a big undertaking, heavily capitalised, often carrying a good deal of borrowing and representing a great deal of planning and labour and hoping and working on the part of the people who built it up. I certainly do not want to frighten them. I do not think it helps to be alarmist in these circumstances, and I would think it a disgraceful thing to frighten somebody out of a development which might prove profitable to him. I know there is some work by horticultural economists about which we can be quite cheerful with regard to the future, but I am bound to say that my belief is that the prospects for the Irish horticultural industry in Community conditions—I want to choose a word which is not a scare word—are not good. This is not a place where astute and far-seeing men will invest capital. The dangers from competition from very large units with very much lower costs overseas are considerable. The Dublin market with a million people concentrated around the Dublin area is one that is worth fighting for.

I would like to see some detailed and unbiased price studies made by a number of different people because economists are prone to express their own points of view as well as anybody else. I would like to see a number of studies made of the prospects of the horticultural industry. They should be made available to the people who now have to plan and to make decisions about where their investments will have to go. When I talk to my constituents about this I tell them of my experiences in France and Italy, the immense vegetable growth in the irrigated areas of Southern France and I tell them that their prospects are not good. It is possible I am telling them something which is wrong; in addition to the direct knowledge of the countries I have because of the television programmes I have made about their horticultural industry, the political contacts I have and the economic studies I see, I search for detailed guidance of an unbiased kind in vain. The horticultural industry is entitled to have that and is entitled to have some serious predictions about the prospects for the future. This would be a very useful activity on the part of the Minister.

There are a few more specific points made by the Minister which I should like to deal with. I found Deputy Bruton's contribution about milk production very interesting and informed. I want to speak particularly about liquid milk production. Deputy Bruton spoke about the increase in the price of creamery milk and said that there would be no parallel increase in the price of liquid milk. If we go into the Community, or if we have a close relationship with it, we will be accepting milk prices which have evolved in the European context and not in our context. We can lay down pretty obvious differences in regard to the attitude to and the usages of milk in the different countries in the Communities. Britain, America and ourselves are inclined by tradition and now by publicity to drink fairly large quantities of liquid milk. This is a much rarer happening inside the Common Market. People eat yoghurt and different types of cream cheese much more than we do. They eat less butter than we do but they use many types of processed milk. It is quite uncommon in many parts of the European Economic Community for people to drink glasses of fresh milk as we do. Anybody who doubts this should look for a glass of fresh milk in restaurants or cafes inside the Community and he will find it cannot be obtained.

I know there are people in the Community who drink milk but there is a general difference in consumption of milk which has had an effect on the way milk prices are worked out. I am sure some Deputies will recall the efforts of a French Prime Minister. Monsieur Mendes France, who tried to persuade the French not to drink wine but to drink milk and there were publicity photographs of him with a litre glass of milk but he got nowhere because consumption is still by and large of processed milk. Therefore, the price structure in the Community urges people towards the production of milk in the summer off grass and the great development of winter milk production, which has occurred in Britain for example, is relatively speaking, not very well known in the Community.

Irish farmers and liquid milk producers, when they look at Community prices will ask themselves very sharply if they are mugs to take the trouble of producing winter milk and having big bills for meals when they could get very nearly the same price with milk produced much more cheaply off grass. Will there be a tendency for the people who have liquid milk quotas not to increase them and possibly to get out of them? They will find on a price system designed for European farming and European consumption, for people who are not particularly interested in liquid milk, that it is much more profitable in terms of actual profit and returns to produce milk off grass for processing.

Will the differentials be such as to keep the higher cost of winter liquid milk producers doing this much more uncomfortable thing? It is much harder in the winter because water is often frozen and you have to work on the cold and dark days. It is much nicer if your cows calve in the spring and have the bulk of their production over when the nights become long in the autumn. We can see this pretty delicately reflected in the price people are prepared to pay for liquid milk quotas. If we approximate towards Community prices many people will see that it is much more profitable to forget about producing liquid milk in the winter and to get into creamery milk off the grass. Therefore, I want to add my voice to that of Deputy Bruton, that this matter would need to be very carefully watched. If the differentials and the incentives in relation to through price, which is the only real incentive, are not kept right then the incipient shortages of liquid milk which emerged this autumn will emerge in a much more persistent form.

Many of the people producing liquid milk do so on a large scale. They look at their costs and they see whether they make money. They will stop doing something if some other form of production will make more money for them. This matter should be looked at very soon because managing a dairy herd is like manoeuvring an ocean liner. A small rowing boat can change direction in a few feet but a huge liner or tanker can take miles to manoeuvre. Those large vessels have to be slowed down for about twenty miles before they stop. You manoeuvre them very slowly and changes of direction are difficult because you have to think a long way ahead. Policy decisions in regard to large dairy herds are like that only in time rather than in space. You have to get your targets and decisions right a decade ahead. If a farmer decides he will go for spring calving he cannot do anything about the coming spring but the AI man can manoeuvre so that he will get calving in the spring of 1973.

Policy changes, decisions made today, do not start to show up for 18 months or so and will not show up in any real volume for much longer. Therefore, people will this minute be reaching decisions such as whether they should shift from creamery milk production and if they run into deficits they will not be able to correct them too quickly. This, therefore, is important.

On the question of land ownership, we have had from the Department of Foreign Affairs a document printed and circulated at public expense. Dr. Mansholt, again in his blunt Dutch way, much as he is committed to the common agricultural policy which is his child, spoke recently through the media on land ownership. I do not know whether it was on radio or television, but I heard him on the question of land ownership and I think there is no doubt about the Community's attitude to the right of free establishment. That is a right to which I object bitterly for the reason that buying land is usually done with money generated from elsewhere. Either one borrows from the bank to buy land or one makes it in some other way, in a shop or other business. The number of people buying land from profits made from land is pretty slim. Here we do not have the big industries or the big wealth that goes with them that they have in many of the other countries in the Community which we are joining. We are very much poorer at the moment and our land is cheaper. I do not foresee a very rapid closing of the wealth gap and I do not see any regional policy aimed at closing that gap.

If we had a tremendous amount of wealth floating around Ireland this might not be such a worry but we will be competing against Germany and others. We have got to have circumstances and, as is usual with anybody from Brussels, Dr. Mansholt was contradictory on this subject. First he suggested there must be the right of free establishment and then it was hedged round. If we go into the EEC we have to get ready for it at this moment. We have got to prepare for less than the most desirable eventuality and I consider that an agreement which did not give us full membership would be much better for the protection of our weaker industries and for the protection of our land. Therefore we must have a land policy and the way to do this is to develop along the lines the Danes have done.

The Danes can say: "We can see the principle that anyone may establish anywhere if we go in, but we have so tied it up with land laws, land booms and so on, that it will not matter a damn in helping a German or a Frenchman". I believe that because of our special weakness and special poverty, the task of the politicians and the civil servants, if we are to find ourselves in full membership, is to think up now every subterfuge, to interpret every bit of small print that they possibly can. It will be no use, in membership circumstances, to take up a policy about land. We had better have this policy quickly, if we are not too late already, in the way it has existed for many years in Denmark and Sweden, because we cannot have something which may be interpreted as having been cooked up. If it is cooked up after membership it might be seen as subterfuge. If we are to have a policy to protect land ownership for Irish nationals we do not have any time to spare.

I should like to hear what precautions are being taken now because the real danger is that if the people vote to go in, it will not be any use doing this in a year or 12 months because it then may be taken as a way to circumvent the obligations we take on when we become full members. Indeed, it may be too late already. If it is not, it will be in a very short time and we had better move briskly. I should like to hear the Minister express his thoughts and those of the Department on the mechanism to do this. I have given an example of what applies in Denmark and Sweden in regard to land. We must give Irish nationals the right to buy land in a much freer way than in the past because there is some limited control at the moment.

The central point I want to make in closing is that whether we become full members or whether we have some other sort of arrangement the benefit we get will depend on decisions, plans and initiatives generated now. Therefore, my feeling about the inadequacy of the Minister's introductory statement was not because of what was in it but what was not. I did not see any plans for the generation of the huge investment agriculture needs. I did not see any plans for the strengthening of industry, of industry from farm gate to the supermarkets. I did not see the sort of perspective and planning that would enthuse and galvanise farmers to take advantage of what is for them a new situation arising from Britain's abandonment of a price support system. The result of that new situation depends on initiatives and decisions taken now and it was the absence of this perspective, these initiatives and decisions, that I found to be the great defect in the Minister's speech.

I have listened to a number of points made by the last speaker and the Deputy who spoke before him. One point, while it is fresh in my mind, is that there was some criticism of the sheep scheme and that because support was not allocated by way of money in aid of the sheep scheme that figures for sheep were going down. In fact, this is not true. If we look at the Minister's statement in his introductory speech, we will see that a considerable sum of money was set aside for headage payments in respect of lamb production and the scheme was broadened and extended from its original scope to include the lowlands as well as the uplands. Sheep numbers did not go down for want of support by way of subsidy. They simply decreased because of cattle production. Beef prices have risen by more than £1 per cwt. this year. The man who could fit in an extra store bullock on his holding would forego sheep production and favour the bullock every time.

When we start being critical we should be more broadminded in that criticism. It is not for want of Exchequer support that the sheep numbers have decreased. In fact, figures reveal that sheep numbers are increasing very recently. Sheep numbers will continue to increase, depending on the price of stores and the price of beef, and provided that the same measure, perhaps a greater measure, of support from the Exchequer, can be extended to the sheep scheme.

A number of points were raised here in regard to what was called restructuring. I understand that what is meant by restructuring is that we will have to embark on a widespread rearrangement campaign in order to both decrease and increase the size of holdings at the same time. Some speakers are inclined to peddle poverty too much. At certain times it is right to plead poverty but there are times when one can go too far in doing so. Whether we go into Europe or not, this is not the time for over-indulging in this kind of talk. The points raised in regard to rearrangement could more profitably be dealt with in the discussion on the Estimate for the Department of Lands. One would think that all our farmers were going to be put off their farms overnight, arising from our intention to enter into the wider area of Europe.

Whatever our shortcomings in the past, the courage to face the unknown was not one of them. Speakers may be inclined to expect too much from the European circle. In this House the late Mr. Lemass, when trying to mount an industrial drive and to put spirit into our people to buy produce from our own factories—he nearly had to coerce them—said that no one outside this country owed us a living. I do not think at this stage that we can assume that we are going into the European Community and that anyone there is obliged to give us a living.

There are certain things which we will have to do in order to reorientate our economy in general towards the European circle. Talking about the size of our farms or pleading poverty will not help us very much. There were times in the past when we were in a pinch where, if we did not stand on our own feet, we would not have had many people outside to assist us. It is too bad of our politicians to adopt this attitude towards the Common Market and profess to see disaster at every turn. Deputies spoke about Europe today. I do not propose to talk about Europe now. There will be another time when we will discuss Europe in this House. Restructuring was mentioned by various Deputies and fears were expressed that the Continentals would come in and buy up all our land. Such fears have been expressed here over a number of years. I remember the former Deputy Dillon charging us with selling out to the Germans, the Dutch or the Egyptians about ten years ago. I do not know how many nationalities he mentioned at that time. In the end it was the Irishmen who borrowed money to compete with each other in buying holdings in various parts of the country. This was proved, and the fact that the Opposition were talking nonsense was also proved. I do not want to infer or to allege that Deputy Bruton or Deputy Keating were talking nonsense, but I would hope that there would be a more realistic side to this argument. Destructive criticism can be bad at this juncture. The fact is that in his statement the Minister has reported good, solid progress.

We must pay tribute to the Minister as the person responsible for helping to spearhead this progress, to his Department, to the various agencies under the control of his Department, to the semi-State companies, the marketing agencies, and so on. This year our exports were a record, and diversified exports at that. Let us be thankful for that. Let us have the gumption to say that we were especially favoured this year in every way, even with the climate. We must be thankful for this progress. This does not mean that we do not desire further progress from here on.

The other two speakers mentioned the brucellosis eradication scheme. This scheme involves a lot of money. It is a much more serious undertaking than the scheme to eradicate bovine TB. The scheme which eliminates bovine tuberculosis was a good scheme, was well caried out and, to my mind, it was wound up in record time. Let us hope that the personnel who are spearheading the brucellosis eradication scheme will derive benefit from the experience gained in the drive to eradicate bovine TB. I think they have. Faults can be found with any man-made scheme under the sun. I do not suppose that any Parliament ever thought up a scheme in which one could not pick holes.

The point was made that we should advert to the voluntary part of the scheme. If we are serious about wiping out brucellosis we cannot divert our attention to the voluntary end of the scheme, much as I should like to see that done. I know a few men who could be recompensed if the voluntary end of it was working. To eradicate a very serious disease from the national herd, 95 per cent coverage is needed. I do not believe it is possible to achieve that percentage but, if it is possible, it should be achieved. Why should we divert the forces we have to the voluntary end of the scheme? We would wind up in a very bad way if we did. I think the advisers in the Department should concentrate on the intensified areas. It is very unfortunate that any farmer's herd should be infected by brucellosis. I do not think any amount of money would compensate him for the loss of his herd of cows, and for the displacement and anguish which are caused to him. The sooner we can rid the country of this scourge the better. The more intensified the fight is against the disease the better. Therefore, I would urge the Minister to keep up this good work to try to clear brucellosis from the national herd.

There are many small points which I could build around that main point. We could consider what easement might be extended to the farmers but I see the vote for the subhead here. I know the work that is being done. I know the context in which the money was voted. I know the extent of the budget. I know that as much money as we can spare is being set aside under this subhead for the scheme. I will leave it at that.

The small farm incentive bonus scheme was also mentioned. Some criticism was offered, but not very much. To my mind this is a good scheme. It is one of the best schemes to be introduced in recent years. It is what its name suggests. An incentive bonus is paid to a farmer if he can command a certain figure of income. If he knows he is guaranteed this income at the end of the period, he has an incentive to achieve the level of income necessary to bring him into line for the payment of the bonus.

In relation not only to the small farm incentive bonus scheme but also to its poor relation, the pilot area scheme, I would suggest to the Minister and to the Department, that a look might be taken at the leadership provided in the various pilot areas. In a system of comparison, if nothing else, steps should be taken to discover whether the leadership on the grounds is strong enough, good enough and sufficient to carry out the various duties which devolve on the personnel operating the pilot area scheme.

Indeed, the same could be said sometimes in respect of the farm incentive bonus scheme. I expect that the position is known to those who administer the scheme. The scheme is working well and I hope that not only will there be a continuation of it but that in the near future it may be possible to devote more money towards it so that it might be more attractive.

We have heard much talk about the small farmer both here and at local level. Let us not forget that if the small farmer so wishes, it is within his power to become the strongest member of the farming community. If he wishes to involve himself in co-operation, he may do so. Help is available to smallholders who wish to co-operate but for some strange reason we in this country have never had the will to engage ourselves in the co-operative movement although this would be a means of raising the standards of living of our people. On one occasion I remember a person saying to me during a discussion on the subject of co-operation in general and how some other countries achieved a successful measure of co-operation in the primary sector of their economies, that our farmers have never co-operated because they never found it necessary to do so. I doubt whether that is the reason. We developed the argument further and this man who was an outsider put forward a number of points to substantiate his assertion. However, whether we are to be a nation of big or small farmers, I doubt whether at this stage we will be able to get total commitment to the idea of co-operation. Of course, there is a limited amount of co-operation. For instance there is limited co-operation in the dairy industry but if we had total commitment, it would be interesting to see what we would be able to achieve.

Today the Government are called on to come to the rescue of some sections of the community who should really be able to look after themselves and indeed, since the foundation of the State the Government have been called on to undertake work for people which should have been undertaken by these people themselves. This being so we must keep calling on the Government to go a little further and to do even more than what has been done in the past.

I wish now to make a few brief remarks on beef and dairying. Both these aspects of the agricultural industry were allotted a good deal of space in the Minister's speech. At the outset, I must say that the Minister, made a good move in increasing the price to the farmers for milk. In so doing, he referred to a remodelling in general of the price system and to the higher income which he provided in previous estimates for the small holder by way of the various schemes. This increase in the price of milk will be a help to the average farmer at a time when, I suppose, he was finding it a little more difficult, because of rising costs, to derive a reasonable income. I presume, therefore, that the aim here was to ensure a level income for the farmer. Last year, also, when milk prices were reviewed and increased, the aim was similar and to this end, too, pig prices increased last year. Grants were adjusted accordingly under the various schemes.

If we are to increase the volume of milk output, consequentially, we must have greater inlets for this increased production and I take it that the Minister's idea is to move towards an improved standard of milk production in general but this cannot be achieved in a year, or, indeed, in five years. There must be a steady approach to this whole matter and higher output or better milk handling standards will not be achieved by fire brigade tactics, in other words, by doing much in one year but not doing anything the following year. I submit to the House that the way to achieve this is by doing a little every year and I think that the incentive in the long run will make a stronger appeal to the farmer and he will be able to plan his investment and production on better lines. I think it would lead to the strengthening of the whole basis of milk production.

Since its foundation Bord Bainne have spearheaded solid progress. The first decade of the board has marked a milestone in the production of milk. It has marked a milestone in the sense of increased and diversified exports and this is in line with the aim of the Government to broaden the basis of milk production so that minor booms and slumps will not totally affect the basis of the system. Since the foundation of the board in 1961 those engaged in processing milk products have worked very well with the producers, the board, the Minister and his agencies in setting targets at which to aim, in investing money in plant, in improving ways and means of putting new products on the market, above all, in meeting delivery dates for orders, in packaging and presentation and working everything into one big pattern to encourage the producer to increase his investment, to increase his investment in manpower and to give him confidence in general, in the knowledge that he will be helped on the export market with the sale of his product, in the knowledge that his product will not be aimed in one direction but widely diversified. The activities of An Bord Bainne in trying to reach the consumer with the end product are paying off and will pay off if the consumer gets what he requires at the right price. We are trying to assure our farmers that we are doing our best in the direction of exports. There is much more to be done, admittedly, even here at home but if we do as well—I hope we will do better—in the next decade as we did in the past decade then we know we will have arrived at a bridgehead and let us move forward from there.

It is fortunate that we have achieved this much now that we are on the brink of Europe. We did not reach this bridgehead without removing a number of roadblocks. No doubt there will be more roadblocks to remove but if we can relate our experience over the past 10 years to the coming decade, then we should be able to deal with whatever obstacles we meet. We have a number of natural attributes here to help us with our dairying. Despite the poverty which is pleaded here sometimes, I think we have the best grassland in the world if we handle it properly. We have also a benign climate. We have the manpower. We have the basis of a national herd which we hope will be freed from all types of diseases in the course of the next two to three years, with luck. Therefore, we start out with a good deal in hand. This is why I do not like to hear people crying poverty all the time, nothing but empty pockets. We shall, of course, meet competitors who will be as anxious as we are to widen the scope of their activities even in our home market if we become a member of the Community but it will be up to us, having regard to relative costs, to decide whether we are able to compete with them or not and if we cannot compete with them at this point I think it will be our own fault.

I should like to deal for a moment with the creamery structure. It is a sensitive point but if the various interests could stand back and look at their position and see the pattern as a whole we might get a more ready acceptance of co-operation in this direction. If we cannot co-operate in milk we cannot co-operate in anything. We have been long enough at it to have learned a good deal about it. If in the future we fail to restructure our creameries, then we are not worthy to be in milk production at all. At that stage it will be up to ourselves as to whether there will be general acceptance of co-operation. Selfishness or shortsightedness should not be displayed in this matter.

If we want a better system for exporting, not merely butter but diversified milk products, there must be a wider system of milk processing. This will need to be done in newer units, better equipped and using modern techniques to improve the product and to expand production. This is the heart of the matter. This implies a willingness on the part of the creameries who have been told they are below par or who feel they are below par to fall in line with the advice the Minister has tendered to them to amalgamate and to co-operate in order to achieve the goals I have referred to and which are worthy goals.

Experience of the past decade makes it all the more imcumbent on creameries to seek means of strengthening the system. Milk supplies to creameries have more than doubled in this ten year period. The numbers taking part in dairying grew by 15,000 or 16,000. Cow numbers have increased by 250,000. The yield per cow has increased, on average, by 162 gallons, which, admittedly, is still not high enough but which is a much more respectable figure than the yield at the beginning of the decade. I would hope that we would be able to add 300 gallons to that figure, or even more, at the end of the next decade.

If we are able to continue in this direction, creameries will be called upon to provide increased accommodation for handling, processing, despatching, and so on. Therefore it was timely for the Minister last week to appeal to creameries to fall in line with the general aim. A decade ago there was a renewal of intention and there has been some progress for the last ten years. We should now try to finish the job.

Bord Bainne has good news to report in the autumn of 1971 in the sense that exports have risen in value from £7.5 million to £37 million. We have arrived at a plateau. The board is also able to report that exports extended to 50 countries and that these exports comprise many milk products as well as butter.

In this respect mention should be made of the late Seán Moylan, a former Minister, who helped to start this movement and also of Deputy Patrick Smith who succeeded Mr. Moylan as Minister. Both of these men helped in the foundation of Bord Bainne, which, in turn, helped to promote exports and make Irish products known in as many as 50 countries. Mention should also be made of the former chairman of the board and the present chairman. I hope that Bord Bainne will have even more success in the future in promoting exports of milk products than it has had in the past decade.

In regard to beef, the Minister has progress to report on exports, on income, on quality, and so on. I shall deal now with beef consumed on the home market. A Deputy adverted to that matter. I will refer, not so much to the fact that it is prime Irish beef, as to the way it is handled. I have here a report of the Food Hygiene Advisory Committee that was appointed some time ago by the Minister for Health but, apart from that report, I know enough about the way beef is handled to say that we are not making the best use of the carcase. There is ample evidence of this. It is too bad that beef is not better handled on the home market because by far the greater amount of beef produced is consumed on the home market, despite the fact that last year we exported a large volume of beef both on the hoof and boneless in boxes and even tinned. As the greater volume is consumed here, it is a pity that before we condemn the man who handles the beef, the victualler, we would not look into some of the problems he has to contend with. Maybe he is a party to this in so far as he has not made the progress he should have made in educating his customers into the best methods of handling and cooking the various cuts. We have always been able to turn out prime beef, but that does not mean that we should indulge in solvenly methods of handling and cooking it. I will not go into the report on hygiene, but what was good enough for former generations is not good enough now. That does not mean that we did not always produce prime beef. We did.

A great deal of money is being spent on getting rid of disease such as bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis and marginal diseases. Remembering the amount of the investment it behoves all of us to make the best possible use of the end product. Every customer today demands the best cuts—sirloin, T bone, fillet and round steak. The housewife drives up in her Cortina, her Merc, or whatever vehicle it is, and she demands all the prime cuts. The ambition is to buy whatever she can cook in the shortest possible time. I remember when beef was hung for eight days and soup was made from the bones. There was no extravagance. There was no waste. Despite all the modern aids in cooking and despite refrigerators and deep freeze there is both waste and extravagance now.

Let us not be hard on the victualler. He has to contend with a good deal. As I said, he has been buying in a hard market for the past ten years and I know some who, if they did not get a beast on credit, would not be in business at all. When the victualler has sold the prime cuts he has to try to sell the remainder. Is it not cause for comment that today in any hotel in this city there is no stock pot? Is this not a sad commentary on a country which produces the best beef in the world? I do not want to talk about what may happen in the Common Market. Let us start at home and put things right. Then we can talk about the Common Market. If a visitor goes into an hotel and asks for a bowl of shinbone soup the waiter will look at him as if he had asked for a rubber bullet. In fact, there are young waiters who would not know what one was talking about and I suspect there are some managers who would send for the gardaí to have one removed from the premises if one did not accept packet soup.

The National Beef Board, which is a promotional agency, should look at the home market and spearhead a campaign for the better use of the whole carcase. Visual aids could be used to assist the campaign. To support what I have been saying, I can call on my short experience at Strasbourg and some places in France. If the French had the offal which we have they would make a good meal out of it. We should educate the public on how to handle beef as a product. It would be a much better plan to put education before aggression and the victualler, the customer and the producer would all get along a little better.

After the very fine analytical speeches that have been made here today I feel inclined to apologise to the House for rising to deal with a few mundane problems which affect not just my own constituency but the agricultural community in general. It is impossible to deal with the agricultural Estimate this year without thinking of the industry in the context of our likely entry into the EEC. I do not, however, intend to deal with that, first, because of inability and, secondly, because of time.

I know the Minister in his own sphere as a farmer and he is not a complacent individual, and I would be very disappointed to find he was complacent in his Department about the progress of the agricultural industry to date. I am thinking in particular of livestock numbers. Deputy Carter started off by querying a reference to the decline in the numbers of sheep. I have also queried the figures for this year because, while they show a welcome increase, they could be false because of the fact that lamb prices and sales were so bad at the time the census was being taken. Sales and prices have improved somewhat and a more realistic figure might be obtainable later when total sales are analysed.

An increase in all types of livestock is imperative if we are to gain benefit from entry into the EEC. It is essential that money be poured into agriculture from now until the day we enter the EEC. If we do not have the goods to offer at the time of entry there will be no point in our starting to increase production in the hope of gaining the benefits which exist.

Various speakers have mentioned the position of small farmers, who have the sympathy of all sections of the House. It has been said that the small farmer will be squeezed out in the Common Market. Speakers have referred to what is happening to small farmers in the EEC at present. I had the honour, along with other Members of the House, to visit West Germany during June. The small farmer in German terms is a man with anything from two to ten acres. We all know that he could not have an income in any way comparable with that of his fellow worker in industry. Some were tenant farmers and others owned their own land but they could all see there was no future for them in agriculture and they were getting every encouragement from the Government to get out of agriculture and into industry. West Germany is so starved of manpower that the Government are prepared to do anything to reduce the numbers on the land and increase the size of the holdings in order that those who remain on the land will be able to obtain a standard of living as near as is possible to that of their fellow workers in industry. In many cases our small farmers would be ranchers compared with the small farmers in West Germany.

Nevertheless, small farmers have a terrible problem. As most Deputies know, it is a case of going to the Land Commission on deputation after deputation in the hopes of pressurising the Land Commission into acquiring land so that it can be divided among the smallholders and bring them up to what is regarded as a viable or an economic holding. It is a case of having to expand or get out. The efficiency of small farmers has increased beyond recognition. Much credit for that is due to the advisory service which farmers are now willing and prepared to accept, although that was not always the case. Unless farmers can further increase their acreage they cannot hope to survive.

The Minister should pressurise his colleague, the Minister for Finance, into giving the agricultural industry all the money he possibly can in the time available in order that the cold storage will be full of butter, cheese, meat and anything else that Europeans are prepared to buy because the bonanza is there put it will only be there when we go in. Once we are in the replacement prices will be the European prices and it will then be a case of a large market, a good price and hard work. There is a tremendous advantage to be gained on our entry and I hope we will be ready for it but that leaves a great responsibility on the Minister and his colleagues.

I notice from the Department's report that despite years of effort we still have sheep scab. Numerous farmers carry out the regulations of dipping the sheep twice year after year, but it seems another inspection is necessary to see where people are slipping up. Surely that is not good enough, when the Department have their inspectors and local authorities are responsible for running the scheme. The more progressive farmers feel they should be relieved of this burden. The Department are now about to have another look to see where facilities are needed in order to eliminate this disease, which has caused tremendous irritation to farmers and loss of time, energy and money in a great many cases. One of the things I would criticise most forcibly in the outline of Departmental activities we have been given is this record of inefficiency in that regard.

While on the subject of animal diseases, there is another disease that has not been mentioned and that is liver fluke. I read, as I am sure the Minister did, a report in yesterday's paper of a group of farmers who had been visiting cattle sales in Italy and serious reflection was cast on Irish livestock because, apparently, some years ago the Italians imported some cattle from this country. I think I recall the occasion but not the exact date. These cattle were yard-fed but when it came to killing-out, all had bad livers and because of that the whole beast was regarded as bad. It is bad when one considers the price the liver will make in Italy, around £8 or £9, a very considerable amount. We seem to be doing little about eliminating this disease. Slight reference was made to it in the Minister's report but I think he could have mentioned that at present a drug is available which is the best yet produced but which to my knowledge is not available to farmers except through the veterinary service. This is very wrong. It is a costly drug and if it cannot be made freely available to farmers I accuse the Department of not being serious about eliminating liver fluke.

There is the alternative but rather costly scheme available of spraying certain wet patches in fields where it is known that fluke worm originates. This could also be very effective although very costly. It would present many problems in the case of small farms run as one unit and not fenced because, for spraying purposes, the land would have to be cleared for a certain period. The Minister and the Department have done precious little to eliminate the great scourge of liver fluke.

In regard to the EEC negotiations, in connection with animal diseases I would ask the Minister to fight to the last ditch and not give way on the principles we have here to ensure herds free of disease which are common in certain parts of Europe. If he succeeds in that he will be doing a good day's work for Irish agriculture.

Grain prices, I think, were mentioned on the previous day of this debate and, in that context, the increase given last year for barley. While this appeared on paper to be quite generous it meant little in the farmer's pocket. Nothing is so irritating as to hear the city man say: "I see the farmers got more money for barley, more for milk and for this, that and the other." The money they got last year for barley was gone before they got it, paid out in increases that followed almost automatically to fertiliser manufacturers, oil and spray purveyors, increases in rent and rates, the cost of running machines and the 101 other increases. I should say the increase given by the Minister was not even sufficient to meet these increases, not to mention leaving a few more shillings in the grain-grower's pocket.

May I ask the Minister why he must wait so long to announce prices for next year's crops? I fail to understand why, at the end of the harvest or very soon afterwards, he cannot announce that the price for next year will be the same or will be £X. This policy makes it very difficult for farmers to plan ahead and planning is becoming more important in agriculture as in all other fields. I urge the Minister to consider this for future years and, if possible, announce prices earlier.

I do not know if the National Stud, which is in my constituency, is the Minister's responsibility. I want to refer to it in connection with Board na gCapall. The activities of the National Stud have been almost unknown up to very recently. The present manager has opened up the place to the public who, I think, own it; the taxpayer foots the bill there in many regards although there was a letter in an evening paper this week the writer of which I thought should ascertain his facts before writing in regard to the National Stud. It is a pleasure to go there now as, indeed, thousands of tourists do. It seems to be a major stopping place for tourists. The stallions there are taken out twice a day and paraded for the tourists to see.

The National Stud do not concentrate on producing yearlings for the annual sales. They are not in that business to complete with farmers and others who produce bloodstock. They are there to provide a service and they are doing that, to my mind, to the best of their ability and to the limit of their available finances. One of the many questions asked by visitors is where can they see a Connemara pony, and where can they see a good hunter. These questions are relevant to Board na gCapall. I would suggest to the Minister that a centre should be set up with the minimum delay as convenient as possible to the National Stud. This is a show window for our bloodstock industry and a very important one. The two could very easily and very beneficially go hand in hand. Much of the work of the National Stud could be done in conjunction with Bord na gCapall.

Reference was made by Deputy Keating to beef. I am not saying this as a criticism of him, but he said that it does not matter nowadays what the flavour is so long as the beef is lean. I think we are entering into the sphere of the large feed lots. The tendency nowadays is in that direction. In the days of the deep litter hens the profit margin on broiler chickens was so small that they had to be kept in huge numbers in order to get a decent return. The same trend seems to be emerging in the beef industry. It would be a great pity if we were to be deprived of the flavour of Irish beef and if it were to suffer the same fate as the free-range chickens and eggs. I am not saying this will happen. I am just saying it could happen. Deputy Keating said that people do not give a damn what the flavour is like so long as the beef is lean. Nowadays people are quite prepared to pay very high prices for eggs from free-range farms and for chickens reared at large also, instead of those coming from the large broiler lots. I would hope that we would never get to the stage where we would have to scour the country for a piece of beef from an animal reared and fattened on good Irish grass.

I would again appeal to the Minister to allow nothing to stand in his way in increasing production in preparation for our entry into EEC. There are some minor irritants, one of which I shall mention. This is so petty that it is impossible to understand the mentality behind it. It is this question of the young farmer gaining possession of a portion of land for the first time and being denied a herd number for himself under the TB eradication scheme. I have written to the TB office; I have written to Dublin and I have put down a question to the Minister. My next move will be to approach the Minister himself.

When I put down a question to the Minister some months ago as to the requirements for obtaining a herd number, his reply was very clear and specific, that where a farm was being run as an independent unit the owner was entitled to a herd number. I have a couple of cases but one in particular. There is no question of getting a second herd number in the son's name as a subterfuge to gain the beef incentive scheme bonus or anything like that. Neither the father nor the son is in milk production; they are both in beef. The son owns the second farm and stocks it himself. The offer made by the TB office was that if the father's number was, say, 24A, the son's number would be 24B; the test would take place on the same day. There is no complaint about that; that is quite acceptable. However, if a beast goes down in either herd, both herds would be lost. This, to my mind is just not on.

This is an irritation to young people. There was a time a few years ago when if you were grazing cattle along the side of the road you could get a herd number. Now there seems to be some suspicion that if the farmer's son looks for a second number it is just to get the benefit of the beef incentive scheme or some other scheme that might not be applicable to the home farm. Those are irritants that I would ask the Minister to remove and let us get on with the job of farming through the greatest possible co-operation.

In the time at my disposal this afternoon I wish to deal with the sugar beet industry which is of such major importance to the economy. We should welcome the fact that the sugar beet acreage was increased substantially this year. Production in the current campaign will reach some 160,000 tons, an all-time record and more than enough to meet all the domestic requirements. So familiar have we become with the importance of the beet crop that perhaps we tend to underestimate the highly remunerative crop that it is, a crop which gives beet growers a gross margin in excess of £80 an acre and which also provides very substantial employment in the four factory towns. I have little hesitation in stating as a layman on Department of Agriculture and Fisheries affairs that few crops offer so much direct value to farmers: one acre of beet produces about two tons of sugar; in terms of animal feed it is equivalent to three-quarters of an acre of barley; in terms of beet tops it is the equivalent of half an acre of turnips. The crop provides the equivalent of some 3,500 man years of employment on the farm directly plus, as we are well aware, some 3,000 factory jobs spread out in four key provincial towns. It is a welcome factor that it seems that beet will remain an attractive proposition within the EEC countries, although the price we can anticipate will not generally increase. It was reported in the recent UCD survey on farmers' production response by Sheedy and McInerney that:

Many growers indicated that they would be willing not only to fill their existing quotas in the EEC conditions but to grow considerable additional acreage if the quotas were available. It appears that the present high absolute profitability of the crop and the rapid technological advances which are making its cultivation more attractive outweigh the disadvantages of EEC membership.

It is crucial that the future of the sugar beet sector should be guarded and fully assured on EEC entry. The Government must seek to obtain a large production quota in the EEC. I make the suggestion, for example, that a quota equivalent to total consumption in the whole Thirty-two Countries might be usefully looked for, at least 100,000 acres or 220,000 tons of sugar. I also strongly feel that the sugar company should be enabled to meet their capital requirements in preparation for entry into Europe.

The commitment of this State sponsored body in the West of Ireland must be maintained by the Government. There were some recent alarming rumours about the Tuam factory and these must be fully allayed by the Government. The future of the industry depends in particular on good, harmonious and normal relations between growers and the sugar company. We have at present the rather disedifying spectacle of charge and countercharge being made in the Tuam area. It is time that the Minister, in particular, advised his local Fianna Fáil war lords that they are not to make any political capital out of the sugar beet industry and out of the problems facing growers in the West of Ireland.

The industry in the West of Ireland is not the private property of any political party. It is not the private property of any Member of the Oireachtas and it is not the private property of any particular group of growers. The future of the industry, its viability and the contribution it makes to the West of Ireland is the property of the economy as a whole. Therefore, the current squabbling and in-fighting in the Tuam area should cease. The Minister should urge those, whom he may influence, to cease this disedifying spectacle. This kind of in-fighting is detrimental to the best interests of the beet growers, the workers employed in the industry and the future of the economy in the West of Ireland. The Labour Party call to the interests involved to close the ranks, to stop this disedifying spectacle which we have seen in an area of the country which will find it hard enough to survive within the Common Market, and to present a united front to the Government, the bureaucrats in Brussels, the British sugar agreement and the arrangements made there. We also call for the greatest care to be taken by the Government in the negotiations in regard to future sugar quotas to make sure that precise and definite arrangements are made because, while I am not by any stretch of the imagination, assuming to understand fully the multiple intricacies of the Commonwealth sugar agreements, I most certainly feel that any parallel in this country like the recent agreement negotiated by Mr. Rippon, and the vagueness and generalities which surrounded that and the massive criticisms, mostly justified, which have been levelled against that agreement, would most certainly be quite disastrous in terms of our international sugar relations.

The Labour Party urge the Government to exercise the greatest caution to make sure that we will never be accused, as the Commonwealth producers accused the British Government, of reneging the agreement which had been holding good and obtaining the new agreement.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 5 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 9th December, 1971.