Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Cattle Hormone Implants Ban.

13.

asked the Minister for Agriculture if his attention has been drawn to an article in a farming paper (details supplied) where the ban on the use of hormones in cattle production has been criticised by the chairman of the EC's scientific committee on hormones and where the British are challenging the ban on scientific and procedural grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

42.

asked the Minister for Agriculture the plans, if any, he has to prohibit the use of hormone implants in cattle production; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 42 together.

I have seen the article referred to and I am also aware that the United Kingdom is challenging the EC ban on the use of hormones. This does not, however, affect the current validity of the relevant EC directive.

The EC ban comes into effect on 1 January 1988. From that date intra-Community trade in implanted livestock and meat derived from such animals will be prohibited. In view of the beef production pattern in this country and the vital necessity to maintain export outlets for our cattle and beef, the use of hormones for growth promotion purposes must now be prohibited so that we can comply with the EC deadline. I propose to introduce the prohibition on a phased basis. The administration of growth promoters to calves will be prohibited shortly and the ban extended to adult cattle at a later date.

(Limerick West): Has the Minister had an assessment made of the likely effects of the ban on beef production and the benefits that will accrue ultimately for our reputation for pure food?

The industry has done its sums and it is true that the banning of hormones will cause hardship. We enjoy at the moment, rightly or wrongly, a premium place on European markets, especially in the German market. We have a reputation for pure food and we have to maintain our image if we are to maintain our place on the European market.

It is now 3.30 and I must move to questions nominated for priority.