Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Turkey Marketing.

12.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if he will give details of the EEC directive which states that after this year live turkeys may not be marketed to the public in the customary manner but must be wrapped and oven-ready; if he proposes to implement this directive; and if the poultry industry and producers have been consulted in the matter.

An EEC Poultry Health Directive made in 1971 provides that trade in fresh poultry meat is only allowed where the meat was obtained from birds slaughtered in approved plants and subjected to veterinary inspection before and after slaughter. Before plants can be authorised under the directive they must meet very high standards as regards premises, equipment, processing procedures, staffing, hygiene, storage and packaging. The directive came into effect for intra-Community trade in July, 1973, and will apply to home trade from February, 1976. It covers fresh, chilled and frozen meat of hens, cocks, broiler chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and guinea fowl. It does not apply to trade in live birds.

Because of the requirements that birds must pass through an approved plant and undergo post-mortem veterinary inspection, application of the directive to the home market in 1976 would have the effect of precluding trade in New York dressed birds which, of course, are not eviscerated and many of which do not pass through processing plants at all. This would be a serious matter for our small producers particularly in regard to our traditional New York dressed trade in turkeys especially during the Christmas season each year.

Both this country and the UK have been pressing for amendment of the directive to enable us to continue with the New York dressed trade after 1976. Producer and processing organisations have been consulted in the matter.

May I take it that the Minister is aware of the anxiety of the British Minister for Agriculture in relation to this matter in so far as the poultry producers in Britain are concerned? Is he further aware that this directive has caused considerable inconvenience to the poultry producers in Denmark? Can he give any guarantee, in order to ease the minds of poultry producers in general, that the customary Irish poultry market will not in any way be interfered with by any directive from Brussels?

Of course, I cannot give any such guarantee. We are in Brussels now and we have to abide by the rules. This directive was made in 1971. I have given the reply that we are pressing as hard as we can to have an amendment of the directive so far as it affects our trade.

Has the Minister any hope of success in having his amendment accepted?

Yes, I am very hopeful.

When does the Minister expect a decision will be taken?

I cannot say.