Thursday, 22 June 1933
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £276,950 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1934, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Talmhaíochta agus seirbhísí áirithe atá fé riara na hOifige sin, maraon le hIldeontaisí i gCabhair.
That a sum not exceeding £276,950 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1934, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Agriculture and of certain services administered by that Office, including sundry Grants-in-Aid.
Dr. Ryan (Minister for Agriculture): When I was compelled to move the adjournment about a fortnight ago, I think, I had been asked to deal with the question of foreign markets. It was owing to the fact that the time had arrived for moving the adjournment that I did not get an opportunity of dealing with the question at that time. First of all, a question arose with regard to the British market. Whatever we may think about the British market, whether it is the best market that we can have, or otherwise, I think it must be admitted that the British market is going to be a declining market for this country, whether we have an end to the economic war or not, because the British Government have decided on a policy of restricting imports. If they are not diminishing imports from the Dominions, at least, they got an undertaking from the various Dominions that their exports of different commodities would not be increased in future. As a matter of fact, they have tried to get an undertaking from them that they would reduce their exports of certain commodities to the British markets in future. It is, of course, only commonsense to expect that the British Government would come to that conclusion with regard to their own country because they have embarked  on a policy of developing their own agriculture. If they are to develop their own agriculture they must naturally look for a greater market at home for their products. In order to encourage their people to produce more they are endeavouring to increase prices by restricting imports. In the first place, they are restricting imports for the sake of encouraging their own agriculture, and in the second place, I think it would be found if we examine the British trade statistics that over a period there has been a tendency towards declining exports. If their exports are declining they must naturally curtail their imports. So that we can agree, I think, that if we are to increase agricultural production here—and as I already said, Deputy O'Sullivan on the other side pointed out that the policy we were pursuing would eventually lead to an increase in agricultural output if we succeed in getting increased tillage—we must find other markets than Great Britain, whatever relations we may have with Great Britain in future.
That brings us to the question of foreign markets. We must seek these alternative markets unless our home market expands very rapidly and unexpectedly. Take the question of foreign markets outside Great Britain. In the first place we had foreign markets to a certain extent already. The charge is made sometimes by our opponents that we cannot get foreign markets. Alternatively, they say that if we do succeed in getting them, it is only because we have brought prices so low that foreigners can come in and purchase our products. At any rate, there were some markets outside Great Britain for some years. There were certain commodities this country had been sending abroad, not alone to the Continent but to America. There was, for many years, a limited market for butter outside Great Britain. There was also a market for other milk products. As a matter of fact our condensed milk factory in Limerick for the year 1932 has exported 50 per cent. of its output to markets outside Great Britain. The condensed milk factory  in Limerick is a very big concern. We had also for many years limited markets for bacon, ham, horses, wool, and other things, outside Great Britain. When we came into power it was a question of holding these markets for our products, and increasing them, and, if possible, finding markets in other places. We have been, at least, to a certain extent successful in doing so, perhaps not as successful as we had hoped, but I would say much more successful than our opponents thought when we assumed office. If I were not in the position of being afraid to trust my opponents in this House, with certain information about the markets we have got on the Continent for certain products, which are likely to turn out very well——
Dr. Ryan: No, they are not. As soon as they are properly established these markets will be open to anyone to develop. I repeat that I am in the position in this House that, if I were to give information at this particular moment, my opponents, who are at all times ready to score a political victory at the expense of the country, would not be above sabotage in this instance also.
Dr. Ryan: It is. I do not know if it is altogether the word I want, but people know what I mean. However, the fact is that we have succeeded in getting markets for many of our agricultural products in many Continental countries, and if we could only develop these markets, and make as much progress as we have been making, we will have solved the difficulty that may arise at any time, whether we are here or whether the other Party are back here, with friendly relations with  Great Britain, when the quota system comes in. A few other matters arose.
Mr. Dillon: Is that all we are going to get about the foreign markets? As an humble citizen, anxious to trade anywhere, I want to know what foreign markets there are, and where the Minister has really discovered them.
Dr. Ryan: Coming to the matters that arose on the debate, Deputy Hogan spoke of the disadvantages, perhaps, of the Live-stock Breeding Act. The Deputy stated that before he left the Department of Agriculture he had felt for some time that, if things go on as they are under that Act, it will be very hard before long to get a good milking cow in this country. I do not think the Deputy put his finger on the real cause. As a matter of fact what is responsible for that is, that the Department has found it very difficult to get people, especially in the West of Ireland, to take premium bulls of the Shorthorn class. They have been much more anxious to get Aberdeen Angus and Herefords. People who know anything  about the breeding of cattle know that in-breeding of the Shorthorn breed, Aberdeen Angus, and Herefords is designed to conduce to milk production. The Department has tried to help in various ways. As a matter of fact they have tried to push the Shorthorn breed as much as possible, but their powers are limited in that respect and, in the end they must bow to the wishes of the persons concerned, or to the county committees of agriculture. We have also tried to encourage milk testing societies. Where there is what is known as an ear-marked calf, when the animal comes to be examined for a licence as a bull he generally gets preference over another calf, not ear-marked, where conformity and so on would be equal in both cases. Another Deputy stated that the Department had not given as much for milk testing societies this year as in previous years. That is not true. The Estimate showed that while the amount voted was less than in previous years, the real fact is that the number of societies has been going down. For the last two years the Department voted a greater sum per cow entered in the milk testing societies but, as the numbers were going down, the Estimate appeared to be less than in previous years. The amount was 1/- in previous years, but it went up to 2/- this year.
Dr. Ryan: I could not say that I have proposals, but I think the matter will certainly be considered before the scheme for next year is announced, so as to give preference, perhaps, to premiums for Shorthorn bulls. Deputy O'Donovan stated that there was no necessity at all for this Estimate, and expressed the opinion that it would be better if the gross amount of it was given directly to the farmers, rather than being spent on the upkeep of the Department. Like others who spoke in that way, the Deputy had a complaint to make about the amount spent under some heads. He went on to  complain that the amount for flax growing had been reduced. He also raised a question which, I believe, is raised annually, regarding Clydesdale stallions for County Cork. With regard to that, the Department have had a policy for some years. The Department think that the Clydesdale breed of horse should not be encouraged here, that the old Irish draught is more suited to the needs of this country and that Irish draughts should be encouraged, as well as pure breds for the breeding of hunters and, if you like, racers. The Department are of opinion that for ordinary farm work we should encourage the Irish draught. Personally, I agree with that. I have seen Irish draughts working again and again against Clydesdales. The Irish draughts did as good a day's work as the Clydesdales and were just as fresh in the evening. The only difference is that the Clydesdale will eat twice as much as the Irish draught when put out on grass.
Deputy O'Leary made a speech, which was rather a novelty, as he has been the most persistent interrupter here for the last 18 months. This was, I think, the only speech he made during that period. All he had to say was that the hens and pigs were hungry because they had to live on home-grown grain.
Dr. Ryan: If you were taking a lead like that, I suppose we must forgive you. We had that complaint when the Cereals Bill was going through and on other occasions. It is the usual complaint with Cumann na nGaedheal speakers—that anything produced in this country cannot compare with the stuff coming in.
Dr. Ryan: Irish-grown barley or oats  cannot compare with the foreign maize. It is the same way with everything else, including industrial products— cement and so on. Cumann na nGaedheal speakers are always complaining of the inferior Irish stuff they have to use because of the Government's protection policy not permitting them to take in the superior foreign stuff. Deputy O'Leary would be quite satisfied that the hens and pigs would be well fed if they had foreign maize. They would be all right if fed on maize grown in those extraordinary foreign countries—America, the Argentine and other places—but they are hungry if fed on Irish oats and barley. That was Deputy O'Leary's contribution.
Mr. O'Leary: And I had several letters from people in the country saying that it was a very sensible contribution. I am prepared to discuss the matter with the Minister, say, in Macroom on a fair day.
Dr. Ryan: I have not time to go on a fair day. Deputy Brodrick invited Deputy Keely, who preceded him in speaking, to go down to Galway and put the position before the farmers there. I do not think that it is fair to ask Deputy Keely to go down there after an interval of three or four months. Deputy Keely beat Deputy Brodrick there three or four months ago. He put the position before the farmers, as Deputy Brodrick did, and the farmers gave their verdict.
Dr. Ryan: That should be quite sufficient. I suppose that 90 per cent. of the talk of the Opposition was about the economic war. The day after the debate here, I came across an answer given by Major Elliott, Minister for Agriculture in Great Britain, to a question put in the British House of Commons by Lieutenant-Colonel Acland Troyte as to the price of fat cattle then and at the corresponding  period last year. Major Elliott replied that the average price per cwt. live weight for first-quality fat cattle for the week ended 17th May at markets in respect of which the Ministry obtains reports was 40/10 as compared with 49/10 for the corresponding week of 1932.
Mr. O'Leary: You did not quote my speech on the question of price. I pointed out that I fed six cows for eight weeks and lost £1 on the feeding of them. I ask members of the House if that was encouraging.
Dr. Ryan: I wanted to read for the House the answer of Major Elliott to show that the price of cattle in Britain is 9/- lower than it was this time last year, so that the economic war is not responsible for all our ills.
Dr. Ryan: In conclusion, I have to say that, just like Deputies of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and of the Centre Party, I should like to see a successful end to the economic war. It would be a merciful release to Cumann na nGaedheal and to the Centre Party. We would not hear about them any more.
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