Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Farm Loan Repayments.

3.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries whether, in view of the grave difficulties facing many farmers in meeting loan repayments, he will introduce some scheme that will relieve the situation or effect a postponement of such repayments.

I am not aware that farmers generally are experiencing difficulties at the present time in meeting loan repayments and accordingly I see no need for the introduction of measures of the kind suggested by the Deputy.

Is the Minister aware of the plight of many of our farmers who have gone deeply into debt at the advocacy of the Minister and his predecessors to them to build up stocks, to extend their buildings and change their method of working in order to produce more than they ever did before, and that they are now in a really bad way? Surely the Minister must be aware of this, and the idea that he might be excused on account of being out of the country——

It is a very long question.

I have made informal inquiries from the credit agencies and they tell me they are experiencing no difficulty in regard to repayment of loans.

Might I ask the Minister whether the agencies or, more likely, the agency that has been inquired from would be the main lending agency so far as agriculture is concerned, that is, the ACC?

Yes, that is one of the agencies, and the banks.

Has the Minister got from the banks——

Then he is getting untruthful information, because I can get him a stack of demands that are so pressing——

The Deputy is engaging in argument and debate.

How does the Minister reconcile the statement he has just made with the statement of the Minister for Finance that he instructed the banks not to press the farmers? Obviously that would not be a step the Minister for Finance would take as a result of the representations made by Members of this House unless there had been pressure.

My information is that there has not been such pressure.

Of course there has.

Is the Minister aware that no farmer has made money in the last 12 months?

Of course I am not so aware.

They have not made money.

(Interruptions.)

You cut the calves' throats once.

They should have cut yours as well.

Order. I must ask that Question Time continue in an orderly fashion. Deputy Gibbons.

The Minister must be aware that no farmer in the beef-producing business has made any money over the last six or nine months and that a great many of them are having to sell off their breeding stock at much less than they cost 12 months ago.

There are very few farmers who are solely beef farmers.

Is the Minister happy about that situation?

(Interruptions.)

May I direct your attention to the fact, a Cheann Comhairle, that this is too serious a matter to be taken lightly and in a jocose fashion by anybody?

Deputies

Hear, hear.

Is the Minister aware that there is no profitable sale for young cattle and calves at the moment, with the result that there are numerous small farmers who cannot dispose of their stock? Can the Minister indicate what he proposes to do about finding a market for cattle that cannot be sold at the moment?

I know there is great difficulty at the moment in selling beef cattle.

(Interruptions.)

I am only talking from my experience. I am meeting those people every day of the week.

We shall have to pass from this question.

I am giving the House the benefit of my experience as a Deputy.

And it is dead accurate.

Everybody knows that the prices for young stock, particularly young stock that have not been well fed, are bad and that calf prices are very low. However, if there was a trade for them in any part of Europe surely they would be exported. What am I expected to do?

(Interruptions.)

I am sure the Minister is doing his best in regard to the export of young cattle and it seems the only road to take, but arising from the Minister's reply to the question, I want to ask now, if personal representations are made to him on behalf of people whose names will be given and who are being pressed by banks and other institutions—this is not a political question—is he prepared to make representations to banks and money lending societies, the ACC and so on, on their behalf?

In cases of genuine hardship——

Is the Minister aware——

Question No. 4.

I have an important question.

I have allowed a large number of questions.