asked the Minister for Agriculture his view of the prospects for the food-processing industry, with particular reference to the processing of meat.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Food Processing Industry.
The Government's policy for encouraging development of the food-processing industry including processed meat is set out in paragraphs 3.24 to 3.30 of the recent White Paper on National Development. The further intensification of processing, together with improved marketing, should enable the Irish food-processing industry to develop an increased share of the market for these products.
Could I ask the Minister to repeat the reply he has given because he was completely—one would almost say deliberately—inaudible?
The Chair could hear it all right.
I could not hear it. I would like to ask the Minister if he would be so kind as to repeat the reply.
Arising out of the reply which I did not hear—I do not think the Minister answered the question asked— could the Minister state why he did not adopt the proposal made by the National Economic and Social Council for a marketing incentive scheme for meat processing? Will he indicate the progress that has been made, if any, in removing the remaining anomalies in the operation of the MCA which operate to the detriment, particularly, of canned meat exports?
The Deputy will be aware that the anomalies in the matter of the MCA co-efficients for chilled boneless beef were removed last year at the price fixing although they were there for several years before that. By their removal the obstacles that prevented the economic export of those types of meat as against beef sides were removed and there is no reason why this type of processed meat could not now be undertaken.
Is the Minister aware that the anomalies which apply to canned meat were not removed at the price fixing and that he said at that time that he would be seeking, through an EEC working party, to have those remaining anomalies removed? Would he mind answering the question I asked him in relation to those anomalies?
I can assure the Deputy that I am conscious of the fact that the anomaly remains in the case of canned and cooked meats and I have lost no opportunity in bringing this very difficult matter to the attention of the commissioner and to the authorities generally in Brussels. I would, however, point out to the Deputy that the overall imposition of an MCA on this particular type of meat product would not be uniformly beneficial. It would be beneficial only in the British market. It is a very long and complicated question.
Does the Minister expect that the matter will be resolved at the current price fixing?
I am hopeful that it will.
The remaining questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.