Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Reactor Cattle Prices.

1.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries when the ceiling price for cattle removed from herds under disease eradication programmes was last fixed; and when it will be adjusted to present-day market values.

The maximum prices payable by my Department for reactor cattle were last fixed in February, 1973. No decision has been taken to adjust these prices but the matter is kept under continuous review.

Having regard to the fact that the price for reactor cattle has not been increased since Fianna Fáil were in office, does the Minister not think, especially as he says that the matter is under constant review, that the time is now ripe for a substantial increase in the price paid to farmers for reactor cattle both in brucellosis and tuberculosis?

As the Deputy knows, compensation by the Department is at market value rather than at replacement cost. The owner of cattle is free to look for a licence and sell his own cattle directly, but my information is that extremely few people avail themselves of this. The provision for this purpose has increased substantially since 1972.

The Minister's last statement is quite incompatible with his original reply. It is not true that the maximum price fixed for reactor cattle after two years of wild, rampant, uncontrolled inflation is at precisely the same level at which I fixed it when I was in the Department.

The price of cows was very low last year but there was no change in the valuation of cows, in the maximum that could be paid. This year the price of cows has gone up. There is still no change, but the over-all provision for this purpose has been substantially increased.

Surely the Minister is aware that there are cases at present where people are selling cattle themselves, and the Department are very glad to see them doing it at a much better price that they can get from the Department. I know of one herd about which I could tell the Minister privately. Some of them have been sold by the man himself.

The information I have here is that very few people avail themselves of this opportunity.