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Committee on Finance - Vote 38 — Agriculture (Resumed).

Thursday, 26 May 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 222 No. 15

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Debate resumed on the following motion:

That the Vote be referred back for reconsideration.

— (Deputy Sweetman).

Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries (Mr. Haughey): Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Before Questions. I had mentioned the ICMSA proposal of a two-tier price system for creamery milk and in my opening speech on the Estimate I also referred to this and indicated that in my view there were very cogent arguments against the introduction of such a system. Naturally, I have given a very great deal of thought to this since and I was anxious to hear what Deputies would have to say about it. I think very little was said about it in the House.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon I said plenty.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Deputy Dillon did not say a great deal. He asked me not to dismiss it out of hand, if I remember correctly.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Oh, no.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I have a very great deal of sympathy with the idea behind the proposal which, as I understand it, is intended to do something particularly for the small and medium-sized dairy farmer but I do not think this two-tier price system is the right way to do that. Further, I do not think it is possible to make a calm and objective assessment of this proposal at this particular time and in the present atmosphere. I am not altogether satisfied either that the proposers of this system have studied fully the implications of what is involved in it so that what I propose to do, therefore, is nominate, in agreement with ICMSA, a small group of eminent experts to make a careful study of the proposal and report their findings to me.

[2442]Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy I hope the Minister does not give it the name of the Milk Costings Commission.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey In the meantime, I think it is necessary to do something about milk prices. The real difficulty, of course, has not received — I did not expect it would — much of an airing in the House but it is one that is there and one we must recognise.

The trouble is that there is a very wide gap between the price that can be obtained for our products in export markets and the price we would like to pay at home for creamery milk. If the price of manufacturing milk here depended directly on the price of milk products in the export market, what could be obtained from sales of milk on the home market would be at least 7d a gallon lower than it is now. As Deputies know, that 7d is made good by the Exchequer at a total cost in the present financial year——

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman Surely the Minister is wrong there — made good as to two-thirds; one-third by the levy. I do not know which 7d.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey It is a net 7d. The cost is estimated this year at about £12.5 million. That compares with £4.7 million about five years ago and £2.7 million ten years ago. I mention those figures to show how it has increased. I want to say very clearly and definitely that the £12.5 million must not be looked at in the context of the dairying industry alone. It is, in fact, an integral part of our whole cattle industry and should be so regarded. I do not think that we will ever get a proper understanding of our agricultural problems unless everybody honestly recognises that we are an agricultural exporting country, unlike countries such as Britain and Germany which have great industrial populations able to support very high levels of agricultural aid.

Considering our particular situation, the volume of assistance the Government are making available to the dairying industry at present is considerable. I do not want to pretend for one moment that our creamery milk price is high by European standards. [2443] In fact, as far as I can ascertain, it compares with the Danish price which is lower than a lot of other prices obtaining but I mention these figures, as I said, just to give Deputies an idea of the extent of the problem which confronts us.

However, I do think that it is necessary, as I said, to do something about milk prices at the present time. What I intend to do is to increase the basic price of milk all round immediately by 2d a gallon and, furthermore, to increase the quality milk bonus by another 1d a gallon as and from 1st April next. It has been suggested to me that a number of our smaller farmers are not able to avail of the quality milk bonus and that they should be given an opportunity to prepare themselves and to make the necessary arrangements to produce quality milk and I am falling in line with that thinking. There is 1d a gallon bonus at present and I feel that this increase of 2d a gallon on the basic price should help all our farmers to put themselves in a position by 1st April next to produce quality milk which will attract an additional 1d at that time. In other words, on 1st April next the bonus for quality milk will in fact be 2d.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan How are the Government raising the money? At column 1469 of his speech, the Minister indicated that he would tell us, not only what he was giving but how he was giving it.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I am not finished yet. I am going to deal with a whole lot of other matters. Do not get excited.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman The fact that Deputy O'Higgins is contesting the election has brought something out of you.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Better than your bob a gallon, anyway, for five years.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton What special bonus has the Minister in mind for the liquid milk producers to equal the bonus in the dairying areas?

[2444]Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey May I not make my own speech in my own way?

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton As long as the Minister comes at something.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey That 2d a gallon on the basic price of creamery milk and 1d extra on quality milk is, I suppose, more than the Fine Gael Party ever did for milk in their whole existence.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman We all know that it is only an election bribe. If it was not, why was it not brought in in the Budget?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Deputy L'Estrange and Deputy Clinton both specifically asked me to make this announcement this evening and when I am making it they are complaining.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange We wanted the Minister to make it in the House.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon The tragedy is that you would not make it until they picketed Leinster House. It is the pickets on Leinster House that produced that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Will Deputies please allow the Minister to make his statement?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon A philosophical reflection in a democracy is not out of place.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan I do not want to know anything about philosophy. I want order.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Again, I want to give Deputies an indication of the size of this problem from the point of view of the Exchequer. I want to mention that the increase of 2d a gallon will cost us £3.6 million in a full year and, of course, farm income will be increased to that extent and the 1d a gallon on quality milk from 1st April next will cost £800,000 in a full year. So, the cost to the Exchequer of these two items and the corresponding benefit in farm income is about £4,300,000 or £4,400,000.

I propose, also, to increase the price to the liquid milk producer by a corresponding 2d a gallon straight away and this increase will have to be passed [2445] on to the consumer later on in the form of a very moderate increase in the retail price of milk in the different liquid milk areas.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange After next week.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey No, it does not come into operation at that rate at all.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange It would be in operation but for the Presidential election.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey In approaching this problem of farm income I have to have regard——

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange We will hunt you into your dens.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry Zoom on Martin John Corry Some of them will have to leave their dens. That is what is going to happen. We will not do what you did to General Seán MacEoin.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange You never had much respect for him when he was here.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor Obviously we had more than you.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I have had regard to the fact that there are many different types of farmers other than the dairy farmer and I have sought anxiously ways and means of improving their particular position and at the same time contributing in some way to an increase in agricultural production which we would all seek in the national interest. In this connection I have been particularly concerned about the position in the bacon industry. As Deputies know, there has been a decline in pig numbers which is worrying from a variety of points of view. First of all, I do not think we can ever have a satisfactory bacon industry in this country until such time as we achieve a throughput of pigs of the order contemplated in the Second Programme for Economic Expansion which would, in turn, require an annual output of pigs somewhere in the region of two million. I am worried at the present time lest the figures which we have would be indicating one of these cyclical [2446] downward movements which appear to be endemic to pig production. So, I have decided to do something to remedy the situation and at the same time to help the income position of the pig producer.

I intend to introduce a scheme whereby every pig producer will be paid a grant of £5 per farrowed sow subject to a maximum number per farmer of five farrowed sows. This scheme will last for the next 12 months only. I want to emphasise that it is a terminable scheme and will definitely come to an end at the end of 12 months.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange After the election.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman That is more blatant still.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton The Minister does not want to commit the next Government.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey It is an effort on our part to arrest this decline in pig production. This seems to me to be the best way of achieving that. The cost of the scheme for the 12 months will be somewhere in the region of £750,000 to £1 million and it is hoped that it will have a beneficial effect on pig production——

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange On the electorate.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey ——and help us to get the output of pigs moving upward again and at the same time, as I have said, contribute to the income of the pig producer.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Order. Could the Minister be heard by any chance?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The cattle trade, of course, is closely allied to the dairy industry and is of fundamental importance in the economy. I readily admit that the situation for the cattle producer has been difficult this spring. I would, however, hope that the situation will improve, and improve considerably, before long. The coming into operation——

[2447]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Has the Minister departed completely from the subject of pigs? Might I inquire if he intends to consider, in the context of expanding pig production, any relaxation of the permission to export pork or is that possible? I believe he should examine that.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I do not think so.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon In any event, I mention it in case the Minister cares to consider it.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey As I was saying, the coming into operation on 1st July of the reduction of the waiting period to two months and the extension of the British guarantee payment system to 25,000 tons of our carcase meat, must all have a significant effect on our entire cattle and livestock industry. One of the problems, of course, has been that grass has been very backward and in an endeavour to help this situation, we propose, from now until 30th September—to help the small farmer to improve the output of his grass—to make interest-free loans available to him through the Agricultural Credit Corporation for nitrogen.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange That is more of our policy you have swallowed.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The maximum loan to any one farmer will be £200. This scheme will only last until 30th September this year. I hope farmers will avail of it to the maximum extent possible so that it will help them to get as much nitrogen as possible on to their grasslands and undo the damage caused to their grasslands by the very severe winter and spring. In this connection, some Deputies have referred to the shortage of nitrogenous fertilisers. I understand that ammonium nitrate was temporarily in short supply but action is being taken to improve the position and within a week there should be ample supplies for everybody.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Could the Minister tell us how that arose—how, for the first time in 40 years, nitrogenous manures were unobtainable for the past month and in the first year in which we have a nitrogen factory operating?

[2448]Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I understand that there was some shortage of ammonium nitrate, but how exactly this shortage came about I do not know.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan This is an extraordinary admission on the part of the Minister. Surely he should know?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Deputy Cluskey asked about the operation of the extension of the fatstock guarantee payment system in Britain to our carcase meat trade to the extent of 25,000 tons. As Deputies know, the Free Trade Area Agreement provides that the payment on carcase beef exports to the UK will be for meat of a class which is eligible for guarantee payments under the United Kingdom Fatstock Guarantee Scheme and that the standards which are to be prescribed will not be lower than the standards prescribed in Great Britain. The situation is that exactly the same standards will apply to our meat as apply in Great Britain itself. As I understand the position, there will be no problem whatever with regard to the overwhelming proportion of our carcase meat in meeting these standards and qualifying for the necessary payment.

Some Deputies mentioned that there had been losses, particularly among dairy farmers who lost cows because of the very severe winter and spring and because of the prevalence of a number of diseases. We are anxious to do something to help this position and I am arranging that the Agricultural Credit Corporation will introduce a new scheme to help farmers to replace their losses, although it will not necessarily be confined to replacement. The idea is to enable farmers to purchase during the coming year dairy cows on a hire purchase basis with a three year payment and a very low rate of interest. It may be possible to extend this to cattle other than dairy cows and to help farmers who have suffered losses in this regard to get back into full production again. The scheme will be administered by the Agricultural Credit Corporation and the Government will subsidise the interest rates which will be chargeable in order to bring them down to a low rate.

[2449] In connection with the cattle and meat trade generally also the establishment of a meat marketing board has been adverted to in different quarters from time to time. I feel there is a very good case to be made now for the establishment of a meat marketing board of some sort, particularly in view of the new arrangements in regard to our carcase meat trade which will obtain under the Free Trade Area Agreement. I hope to proceed fairly rapidly with discussions with various interested organisations in regard to the possible establishment of such a board.

The position of the sheep farmer should also improve considerably under the operation of the Free Trade Area Agreement. Arising out of the arrangements which will come into operation, we have decided to extend to all Irish lamb exported to the United Kingdom the same level of payments as will apply under the British guarantee payments system. Some time last year the National Farmers Association came to see me and suggested there was a necessity to introduce some sort of production incentive scheme for sheep. As a result of the discussion we had at that time, I established a small expert group to go into the matter and report to me. They have reported recently and I have in the main adopted the suggestions they have put forward.

I propose to introduce a completely new scheme the purpose of which will be to try to improve the output of mountain and hill sheep farms. The main purpose will be to try to get the lambs off the mountains and hills earlier and have them fattened in lowland areas and so come on the market earlier. Incidentally, it is also to enable the hill farmer to carry a greater stock of ewes. The scheme will consist of a bonus of 10/- per lamb for mountain and hill farmers who get Blackface and Cheviot lambs off the mountains and hills by mid-September. There will be a corollary subsidy of £1 per hogget ewe produced on foothill farms from mountain ewes which are drafted for sale to foothill farms for crossing with Border Leicesters to produce either greyface or half-breds [2450] suitable for fat lamb production. This scheme will come into operation in August or September of this year.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon How that one will be administered is a mystery to me.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The scheme has been recommended to me by a small but very expert group. I have had it examined in the Department and I am assured that it can be administered. The purpose of it is twofold—to try to bring about a better type of sheep production and at the same time, to make a contribution to this particularly deserving type of farmer, the mountain and hill farmer who relies on sheep as a main line of production. In coming to these decisions, I have been influenced by the fact——

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange That there is a Presidential election next Wednesday.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey These three things— sheep, pigs and milk—are of particular importance to small farmers throughout the country but they are especially important to our small farmers in the west of Ireland.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange So they were at Budget time, too, but you did not do it then.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The situation of the tillage farmer——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Might I ask the Minister before he departs from sheep, has he considered at all the possibility of fertilisation of mountain pastures?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Yes.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Has the Minister in mind any scheme for fertilising the mountains? It would be an aerial operation.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey This certainly is something we have discussed and thought a lot about. It was something I was keen to do at Glencolumbkille. But I am not satisfied that the economics of it are right. I think most people would agree that the best and most economic way of fertilising the vast majority of our hillfarm mountain [2451] grazing is by straightforward methods. In this connection also in recent years a variety of suitable types of machines to do this job has been developed. However, it is something I would not rule out. I would be prepared to agree there are probably certain areas which could only be satisfactorily fertilised from the air.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon And you might consider crude ground rock phosphate for that operation? Very well.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The situation of the tillage farmer has been referred to by some Deputies. I want to agree he has had a very tough time this year and last year. Things have been especially difficult for him this spring. I think I have done a great deal to help the tillage farmer. In the case of wheat, we increased the price for last year by 3/- a barrel. When that did not appear to have any significant effect we came along this year and increased it by a further 10/- per barrel making a total increase of 13/-in two years.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange It is still not back to the 1954 price.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey At the same time I recognised that one of the difficulties of getting up the wheat acreage was in the marketing system. I have tried to devise a system which will be acceptable to the wheat farmer based on the Hagberg test. Part of the new marketing arrangement consists in dividing wheat into three separate categories—millable, potentially millable and unmillable. As many Deputies know, last year the full millable price was paid for the potentially millable wheat. It is very disappointing that the acreage of wheat is down again in spite of these measures which have been taken. This is something which has to be considered further to see what else can be done.

I think there is a case now—I shall almost certainly have it done—for carrying out an examination in depth of our whole grain policy. It is very disappointing in spite of these price increases and of the new marketing [2452] arrangements that the acreage of wheat continues to decline. This is very clearly affected by the unfortunate weather conditions we have had for two seasons. Possibly if we had a good year the situation might change. We also increased the price of feeding barley last year by 5/- per barrel and this is regarded as a reasonably remunerative price.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange The price is less than it was 20 years ago when Deputy Dillon fixed it in 1948.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey We have also included in the general category of the tillage farmer the potato grower and the grower of oats. I recognise, particularly in regard to oats and potatoes, that they are the two areas in which the State offers no real assistance to the farmer. Again this is something which will have to be considered in the context of an overall examination of the tillage situation as we find it at present.

Another very real factor in the economy of the tillage farmer is his costs. This is also something that will have to be taken into account. In general, the item of cost which would cause most concern to the farmer is local rates. The Government have moved on a number of occasions in recent years to keep down the burden of rates on agricultural land. This year the Government also gave effect to their decision that any increased charges as a result of the health services would not fall on the rates but would be borne by the Exchequer. I do recognise that for many of our farmers rates are a real cause of anxiety and a very serious factor with which they have to deal in deciding on their programmes.

I do not think we can contemplate a continuance year after year of an increase in rates on the farmer without any regard to his capacity to pay them. I want to assure Deputies that this problem is one which is causing very real anxiety and concern to the Government. It is one which is under very careful and detailed examination and it is a problem to which I hope a solution of a satisfactory nature will be forthcoming.

[2453]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon The only solution is complete derating for the first £20 valuation.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey To decide to derate the first £20 in valuation or to derate all agricultural land under a valuation of £20 is a very attractive proposition and one that would commend itself to me. Unfortunately, it is the most expensive one we could undertake because the vast majority of our farmers come into this general category.

I would like to say a word generally about the overall farm income position and to make the position of the Government clear in this regard. We indicated definitely and precisely at the time of the Budget that we had made certain assessments of the farm incomes position, some of them arising out of our annual review talks with the National Farmers Association, and we indicated that if it transpired that farm incomes were to deteriorate during the year, positive action would be taken to deal with the situation. It is true that the projections of farm incomes we made at Budget time will not be realised and the situation has further been affected by the improvement in earnings in other sectors.

At Budget time we hoped that the three per cent guide line would be accepted and this was taken into account in our projections of farm incomes. These projections have been very adversely affected by the weather and the figures we have to take into account, into relation with the increase in other sectors, have been greater than those we were working on. It is true that the income position of the farming community has deteriorated relative to other sectors of the community. We have initiated a review of this situation with the National Farmers Association and we have gone over with them the original projections we made and the alterations which will have to be made in those projections.

This review has taken place. We have not agreed on the situation as we find it but on our side we estimate that the original projection which we made will have to be modified downwards by about £2.8 to £3 million.

[2454]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon I do not understand what the Minister means by modifying the projection downwards.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey We estimated that global farm incomes this year would amount to £151 million. This was the figure which we agreed with the National Farmers Association this year. We have now had a further review with them and the outcome of that review is that this projection which we made is excessive to the extent of £2.8 million to £3 million. We recognise that the incomes in the other sectors have gone ahead more than we anticipated when we were having our review.

We think there is a case and a necessity to increase farm incomes at this time by direct Government action. It is difficult to be precise about these matters and to establish very precisely by what amount the Government should increase farm incomes to keep them in line with the other sections of the community. The measures which I have announced—the increase in the basic price of milk, the increase both for the creamery milk supplier and for the liquid milk producer, the new sow scheme and the new sheep scheme—all have the effect, between them, of increasing farm incomes in the year by about £5.3 million to £5.5 million. This, I suggest, represents a very fair effort by myself and by the Government to restore——

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Where is this £5 million odd to come from?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I am coming to that.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Tell us whether or not there will be an increase in the price of butter.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The effect of these measures which I have announced will be to increase farm income by somewhere in the region of £5.3 million to £5.5 million in a full year.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy Would the Minister consider any help for poultry producers?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey This is something we are looking into. I do recognise that [2455] something should be done about the position of the poultry producer from the point of view of feeding stuffs.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy What about the position in regard to the price of eggs and the price of turkeys?

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange The Minister is looking into everything for the next week.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne All relevant factors.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I have just announced to this House positive measures which will have the effect of increasing farm income by up to £5.5 million in a full year. I am not looking into anything in that regard. These measures are definite and I am announcing them now.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman The only reason the Minister did not announce them before is that the Presidential election is to be held next week and, even after this bribe—I agree the farmers are entitled to their increase—all the Minister for Health will offer is even money.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Minister must be allowed to make his speech without interruption.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Buying the Presidency.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Some Deputies have asked how this increase in the basic price of milk will be paid for.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy The Minister was speaking about poultry producers.

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully He will guarantee they will make as much as he is making himself.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy Deputy Dowling said yesterday evening that anybody with a clocking hen now has the equivalent of the goose that laid the golden egg.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The money will have to be found by taxation. It is my intention, in regard to the price of milk——

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy I thought the [2456] Minister was to deal with the poultry producers.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I have dealt with them.

Mr. M.P. Murphy: Information on Michael Pat Murphy Zoom on Michael Pat Murphy The Minister has nothing for them, so.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey It is my intention to offset to some extent the cost to the Exchequer of the increase in the creamery milk price by a moderate increase in the price of butter. The price of butter——

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne How much more does the Minister think the people can stand?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey ——has not increased now for a period of over six years. I do not think it is unfair to ask the consumer to pay a little extra for his butter so that the creamery milk supplier may get this increase which we wish to give him at this time.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The Minister should have found some other way besides taking it out of the pockets of the Dublin workers.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I knew this would happen. I knew that, when I made this announcement, Opposition Deputies would urge me to give more to the farmers and that as soon as paying the cost came up for consideration, the whole tune would be altered.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The Minister cannot be complimented on his foresight. He is a Dublin Deputy. He knows that the people will object very strongly to this increase in the price of butter.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I know that Deputy L'Estrange, Deputy Clinton and Deputy Donegan, when the time comes, will vote cheerfully and enthusiastically for the taxation measures which will be necessary to meet this bill.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey The Minister can be assured that we shall not.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Deputy Tracey, a Labour Deputy—and I admire his courage—speaking in this debate, asked for an increase in price for the [2457] creamery milk supplier and went on to say that he recognised and expected that would mean an increase in the price of butter.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy It might well mean it.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Deputy Treacy was prepared to face up to it. He was probably the most honest Deputy to speak in the House.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne He represents farmers and he represents them well.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan We cannot make up our mind until we know the price.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Deputy Dunne weeps for everybody, day in, day out. He weeps for the poor Ballyfermot person who has to pay a differential rent——

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne It is a good thing to have somebody here to weep for them and to look after them.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I have to achieve some sort of balance in this matter. As I have said, the creamery milk supplier and the liquid milk producer should now get an increase in price for their product. In regard to the creamery milk supplier, I think I am entitled to pass on a very small proportion of the cost of this to the consumer in the form of a very moderate increase in the price of butter——

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne How much?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey ——particularly, as I have said, as the price of butter to the consumer has not gone up for a period of over six years and also as the price of butter in Dublin and elsewhere varies from one establishment to another to a greater extent than the modest increase which we may have to impose.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan How much a lb.?

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne How much a lb.?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey You will see.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan After the Presidential election.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Surely the Minister [2458] will not leave that issue hanging in the air?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey It will be announced.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey If the Minister knows how much he will spend then surely he knows how much he will get?

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan The Irish Times said 5d. I think they are probably right.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey They are not.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Let the Minister say what he intends to do and stand on it and do not let the Dáil be coerced by pickets into doing what it will not do by reason——

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne The Dáil has not been coerced by pickets.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Do not let it happen again or this place will become a farce.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Deputies must allow the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries to make his speech without interruption.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon We want him to make the statement here rather than to make it at a dogfight after somebody shakes his fist at him.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey It was my intention to tell the House that I do not yet know precisely what the necessary increase will be——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon I think the Minister is mad.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey ——but certainly it will not be more than 3d a lb.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Hear, hear. That is sensible.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman Twopence or threepence?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon I told you 2d.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Threepence? That can be 6d.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Let the Minister stand there.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey It cannot be 6d.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange We know the Minister's promises from before.

[2459]Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I have said there are a great many calculations to be made in regard to this matter. This whole question of a price for milk, and so on, is a very complicated administrative business, but it is not my intention that the price of butter should be increased by more than 3d per lb.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon That is fine.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Why are the Deputies getting excited about this? I have no intention of evading it.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon I saw the Minister kicked into changing the price of milk by pickets outside the gate of Leinster House and his own door.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I deny that.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Take the decision here now and stand on it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Order.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I deny that. We indicated at the time of the Budget that it was our intention to move to increase farm income should a situation evolve in which this was necessary.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman What brought it on so quickly?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey In pursuance of that undertaking at Budget time, I am now announcing these measures to improve farm income and these measures are being taken as a result of that undertaking in the Budget, and for no other reason.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange To win the Presidential election.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman The Minister is surely not suggesting that the increase in the price of butter will meet the entire cost of all his proposals?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey No.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman Will the Minister tell us then how the rest will be met?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Through increased taxation.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman On what?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey That is not my affair.

[2460]Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman The turnover tax?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Not at all; certainly not.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman Why did the Minister for Finance not announce it?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon The Minister has made a very important statement—certainly not.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Order.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman We are entitled to ask questions, Sir.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey This is the Deputy's first appearance during the whole debate so he might as well ask a few questions.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Order. Will Deputy L'Estrange allow his colleague, Deputy Sweetman, to ask a question?

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman I do not mind personal attacks by the Minister for Agriculture.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey He takes a few himself.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman They are a privilege to which he is quite welcome as far as I am concerned. Does the Minister propose to stand on the reason that he gave now as being the reason why he announced these changes in his agricultural policy?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I suggest the Deputy is entitled to ask only questions of fact.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman This is a question of fact. Is it the reason why he announced these changes between the date of the introduction of his Estimate and today? That is a simple question. Is that the only reason he can give?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The measures I have announced to increase farm income by over £5 million have been decided upon by the Government in pursuance of their undertaking to review the whole situation if the projected increase [2461] we understood would take place in farm income did not materialise.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman Then I understand the Minister to say that that review had not started when he opened his Estimate here.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Oh, yes, it had.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman Why did he not say so?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I did say so. I said it in my opening statement. I said I had asked my Department to undertake a review of the position as a matter of urgency.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange We know the urgency. Tom O'Higgins is doing a little too well.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Order. Deputy Dillon.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Is the Minister in a position to give any information as to the impact that might be made on the expansion of pig production if pork exports were permitted? The Minister is familiar with the problem. The farmers are discouraged very often from bringing pigs to the factory because of the complications of grading. Pork has provided a profitable outlet. The other matter is that, in dealing with the tillage situation, he dealt with the problem of wheat, barley, oats and potatoes, but there is a very dramatic and inexorable contraction in the beet acreage. Could the Minister say a word to us on these two specific matters—pork exports and sugar beet? Can he give us any indication as to what is happening in regard to beet?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey We have, I think, an overwhelming necessity to meet our bacon quota on the British market and, if we are ever to get this business on to a sound footing, we must, I think, keep up a regular, systematic flow of bacon to our customers in Britain and meet year by year the particular quota we are set. The reason for the restriction on the export of pork at the present time is in order to endeavour to ensure that supplies that are available [2462] go, in the first instance, to meet our bacon quota. One of my main purposes in the introduction of this sow scheme is to bring about an increase in pig production to such an extent that there will be an adequate supply of pigs available not alone for bacon but also for pork.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon And, when that comes, the Minister will consider licensing the export of pork.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Certainly.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Could the Minister say a word about the beet situation? Or is there any explanation?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The beet situation again is a bit of a problem. As the Deputy knows, the price paid to the farmer for sugar beet has been increased substantially on a couple of occasions in recent years.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon It is agreed between the Beetgrowers Association and the Irish Sugar Company.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey It is agreed between the Beetgrowers' Association and the Irish Sugar Company. The increases have been of a fairly reasonable order in recent years. Despite that the acreage is not reaching the required level. I suppose this is again, in the main, a reflection of the very real difficulties created by the weather in the last two seasons for the tillage farmer. I intend as part of this review of the whole tillage situation to discuss the beet position with the Irish Sugar Company to see what can be done to procure the full acreage we require and to investigate why the acreage has fallen below the desired level.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon May I suggest to the Minister—I make a small prognostication—that if he puts a parish agent in every parish west of the Shannon, he will, if he so wishes, tax the capacity of the Tuam beet factory.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey In that regard we have had a very considerable success in the Tuam area through the advisory services.

[2463]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon That is the only way the Minister will get it and, if he does that, he will tax the factory.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne In view of the fact that this represents a real increase in the cost of living to those who have to buy butter, and they are mostly the workers, does the Minister not consider that a review of the Government's projection in the light of the permissible three per cent increase in worker's incomes is due?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Good for the Deputy —well done. The Deputy is a very responsible Deputy.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Is the Minister not going to answer the question?

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman I cannot get the figures correctly on my tot. After this increase in the price of butter, what residue will be left to be found by taxation on the figures the Minister has just announced?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The total cost——

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman I am talking about this year as distinct from a full year.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I shall give the Deputy a full year first. In a full year the total cost will be about £4.3 million.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman Out of taxation net?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey No, altogether.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman Gross then?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Yes, £4.3 million gross.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Twopence per lb. would produce what?

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Threepence per lb.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I said it would not be greater than 3d but 2d per lb. on butter would bring in about £400,000. Threepence per lb. would bring in about £650,000, allowing for a slight decrease in consumption.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange More margarine.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Naturally people will not be able to afford butter.

[2464]Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey I am sorry. I mixed up two figures. The £650,000 would be for the remainder of this year. The £4.3 million refers to a full year. In a full year 3d per lb. on butter would bring in about £780,000.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan Has the Minister included in the £4.3 million the penny for quality?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Yes.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan So that up to about £3.6 million or £3.7 million——

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey The basic 2d costs about £3.6 million. The quality costs about £800,000.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman Does the Minister equate in his mind the changes in the liquid milk price for the Leinster and Cork producers with those for the creamery areas?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Twopence per gallon in each case.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan It is not the same because there is this 1d extra for quality milk.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey That has already been considered.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan It has not been considered. The Minister is quite incorrect there.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Will the Minister say when he intends to implement this enormous increase amounting to 3d per lb. in the price of butter?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey For whom is the Deputy pleading now? He was pleading for the farmers when he was speaking in the debate.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan I am pleading for fair play.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey Zoom on Charles J. Haughey Face up to your responsibilities.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Perhaps Deputies will allow the Chair to put the question. There is a motion to refer back the Vote in the name of Deputy Sweetman.

[2465]Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman Zoom on Gerard Sweetman I am withdrawing that.

Motion: “That the Vote be referred back for reconsideration”, by leave, withdrawn.

Vote put and agreed to.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.


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