Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Role of CBF.

54.

(Limerick West) asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will consider the feasibility of giving CBF a marketing role; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Apart from any other consideration I do not think it would be appropriate for a State-sponsored body to become involved in commercial selling in competition with the private sector which is currently exporting some £950 million worth of livestock and meat annually to a wide range of markets within the Community and in third countries.

(Limerick West): Has the Minister had any discussions with the meat trade about this question?

As the Minister responsible for CBF I occasionally have discussions with their chairman and I am quite satisfied that they are doing an excellent job. We increased their subvention from national funds this year by almost 40 per cent, while other bodies were suffering cutbacks. The meat trade itself is doing an excellent job in selling abroad through promotion and marketing. I do not think there is any other single industry in this country where such progress has been made in recent years. On joining the Community 70 per cent of our beef was exported in the form of live cattle but now that figure is closer to 10 per cent. We are getting a vast amount of value added because of the way in which the processors are selling. I am very aware of the role played by CBF. They co-ordinate the markets and I do not believe their immediate vocation lies in directly selling.

(Limerick West): Has the Minister received representations from the board of CBF on this matter and would he outline what they are?

Approximately 18 months ago CBF put forward proposals that they should sell directly but I did not think it was opportune that they should do so, seeing that our individual traders were doing so well.

(Limerick West): Does the Minister not think at this stage that CBF could be given the right to carry out test sales in as yet undeveloped markets?

That is an interesting type of proposition and if it came to me I would give it serious consideration. It would have to relate to new markets because I certainly would not want to upset traders working in existing markets.

(Limerick West): Will the Minister initiate this topic with CBF?

I should prefer the proposal to come from the board of CBF. I have no doubt that if they are interested they will take up the matter with me.