Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Beef Prices.

40.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries why the price of beef in Ireland in the weeks ended 22nd May and 29th May, 1974 was the lowest EEC reference price for cattle and was almost £6 lower than the price of beef in France.

First, the Irish cattle guide price, which is being aligned to the Community cattle guide price by annual increases during the transitional period, is at present £3.40 per live cwt lower than in France and the intervention price level here is correspondingly lower. Also, the weekly reference price, which is the average market price for the relevant categories, reflects current market conditions in each country. Market prices in Ireland, as a major exporter of cattle and beef to the UK, unlike France, are adversely affected by the fact that the UK guide price is £.76 per live cwt lower than Ireland's and that the UK has entirely opted out of beef intervention.

The Minister surely is aware that when I asked questions here about the export of cattle last year I was told everybody was advising the Minister we had not enough cattle. When you take up the papers now the advice is going the other way.

Would the Deputy ask a question relevant to the question on the Order Paper?

I would like to know if anything at all can be done. I am not blaming the Minister, but something must be done about it.

Everything possible is being done to improve the price. A number of measures have been taken recently and I believe they have not yet had time to have effect.

The people down the country——

The Deputy is not asking a question at all.