Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Animal Feeds.

13.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if he will provide by order that animal feed compounders must show the actual ingredients that make up their compounds.

I am not satisfied that the listing without quantification of ingredients in animal feeding stuffs would serve any useful purpose. I understand that the only acceptable method for checking on the existence of ingredients in a compound feeding stuff, viz. microscopic analysis, is not sufficiently precise to determine the actual percentages of all ingredients.

Would what I have suggested not give the Minister the requirements he needs and leave the farmer with an idea of what is going into the compound?

This change so frequently depends on the ingredients available at a given time that it is impossible to have it continuously operating.

There are some ingredients, particularly pollard, that can be put into compounds that will decrease the digestibility and the fattening qualities of the compound.

The Deputy also knows that there are many qualities of pollard and, if I said there was pollard in it, it might not assist the Deputy in his determination either.

14.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if his Department has a reliable method of calculating the digestibility of animal feeds which are supplied by animal feed compounders.

There is no agreed method for the calculation of digestible energy from the chemical analysis of a feeding stuff. It can be calculated from detailed particulars of the ingredients which are available only to the compounders but cannot be accurately determined in a sample of the compound feeding stuff for quality control purposes.

Is there not some method which could be used in the actual feeding to see what would be the result?

The Deputy knows that is a long-term process and, by the time we had reached the end of it, the feeding stuff might no longer be on the market. It is not a very practical way to attempt to deal with it.

15.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if he will instruct animal feed compounders to include a statement of the actual percentage of protein fat fibre, ash and moisture which the feeds contain and the calculated digestibility of the feeds.

Existing national controls provide for declaration of actual percentage of oil, minimum percentage of protein and maximum percentage of fibre in compound feeding stuffs. In addition, licensed manufacturers are required to include specified minimum levels of protein in pig and poultry rations. It is not proposed to alter these controls pending the making of EEC directives on the marketing of feeding stuffs. Until there is an accurate method for determining actual levels of ingredients a requirement that calculated digestibility be declared could not be implemented.

When does the Minister expect that the EEC directive will be issued?

I know they have been working on it for some time. I am sorry but I am not in a position to give an approximate date.

Since some proteins like urea are not safe in some animal feeds, would the Minister not consider it advisable to state the type of protein in the compounds?

It could be digestible and not be safe. I think the Deputy will accept that. That would not leave us any further on from the safety point of view with which the Deputy seems to be concerned.

Both the safety and the digestibility.

That is a fairly difficult and expensive operation.

Is the Minister taking any steps to see if it is possible to do something like that?

I have said that a directive is being considered. There is not much point in our taking steps which we might have to change very shortly afterwards.

16.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries when he will introduce stricter quality control on animal feeds which are sold by compounders.

Implementation of EEC directives on animal feeding stuffs will ensure stricter quality control on the sale of animal feeds.

Arrangements for the implementation in national legislation of the EEC directives on (i) additivies in feeding stuffs and (ii) permitted levels for undesirable substances and products in feeding stuffs are at an advanced stage. Furthermore an EEC working group is at present examining proposals for the marketing of animal feeding stuffs. A directive on the marketing of straight feeding stuffs is nearing completion and when finalised a draft directive on compound feeding stuffs will be prepared.

The Minister said it is at an advanced stage. How long will it be before it is finalised?

I could not give an accurate reply to that and I do not want to give an approximation. It should be a matter of a few months, I would say.

Is the Minister hopeful that what seems to be coming will provide the necessary controls?

I imagine that it will if it comes with the recommendation of the Commission.

Is the Minister trying to influence this directive or is he waiting for it to issue?

That is a separate question.