Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Milk Quota Schemes.

24.

asked the Minister for Agriculture if he proposes to introduce a milk quota leasing scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

55.

(Limerick West) asked the Minister for Agriculture when the EC milk cessation scheme will be introduced; and if he has any plans in his Department to introduce a national scheme so as to ensure that there will not be a further reduction in our milk quota.

103.

asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will create a national milk cessation scheme and distribute all new available quotas among young farmer suppliers and maintain the present level of quota for Ireland through this system; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 24, 55 and 103 together. The new Community cessation scheme will be introduced as soon as the EC Commission have finalised the detailed rules for its implementation.

In regard to national cessation and quota leasing arrangements, a commitment was given by the Commission in the recent prices package that they would put forward a proposal for more flexible quota arrangements which would enable the restructuring of production to take place at the level of co-operatives and dairies. The categories of farmers to benefit from such new arrangements will be decided following discussions with the appropriate organisations here. Pending the introduction of these arrangements, quotas can be transferred, whether by lease or otherwise, only when the land to which they are attached is transferred.

(Limerick West): Is it the position that the Minister has no plans to relieve the bad effects on the dairying industry of the increased quota restrictions?

I certainly have. The national cessation scheme which I spoke about in my original reply will give the industry a tremendous opportunity to restructure the whole production of milk. It may be remembered that the umbrella organisation for the creameries, the co-operatives or the ordinary dairies known as ICOS, tried in vain about six months ago to have a national cessation scheme but their efforts were thwarted by the fact that smaller co-operatives, particularly in the north-east and the north-west were worried that the national cessation scheme would lead to an outflow of milk from those small co-operatives to the larger co-operatives in the south. We got a commitment from the Commission — and the commitment is at our instigation — that they will now allow cessation schemes to work on a co-operative basis. In other words, each individual co-operative will operate its own scheme and any milk which is given up will go only to other producers within that co-operative area. That is a tremendous concession which will help people to restructure the industry.

(Limerick West): May this House take it that the EC commitment given in 1984 not to make any further reductions in Ireland's milk quota is now null and void and that the Minister accepts this situation?

We did not have any legal basis for the 1984 agreement. It was mentioned in the minutes but it was not a legally binding regulation or document of any kind.