Private Deputies Business. - Demonstration Farms—Motion.

Wednesday, 4 December 1935

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 59 No. 12

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Debate resumed on the following motion:—

That the Dáil is of opinion that the Department of Agriculture should run several farms in each county under the direction and supervision of its agricultural instructors, independent of all other activities, on which decent wages would be paid, accounts kept and audited, balance sheets published with appropriate explanations of costings, profits, etc., for the purpose of demonstrating to farmers in a practical way how to make their industry pay. —(Patrick McGovern, Timothy J. O'Donovan).

Minister for Agriculture (Dr. Ryan): Information on James Ryan  Zoom on James Ryan  On last Friday we were discussing this motion of Deputy McGovern's with regard to experimental farms. I was [1909] then endeavouring to show the House the necessity for leaving those county instructors at their own work in the various counties, and I had outlined on that occasion some of the duties that these men perform at the present time. I had got almost as far as finishing when the debate had to be adjourned. But in addition to those duties which I have already outlined, the county instructors have for the last three or four years spent a considerable portion of their time in instructing various farmers in the various counties in the growing of wheat, beet and other farm crops. They have—it will be admitted by all sides—made a great success of these crops in the various counties. Of course there are farmers in every part of Ireland who are quite capable of growing wheat, beet and all those other crops without any help or guidance from the county instructors. On the other hand, there are in all these counties farmers who are very anxious to avail of the advice and help of the county instructors. In many cases we have also, for some years past, been endeavouring to produce good seed for cereals and other crops, and it is necessary to have demonstration plots in various places in order to get the best results from these schemes. These plots have been run also by the county instructors. I think on the whole that the county instructors have a great many duties to perform. Under present conditions they would not have time to look after those experimental farms that are advocated by Deputy McGovern. Deputy McGovern spent a good long time in demonstrating how a farm of 100 acres would lose so much money if the farmer were to feed his cattle on the lines of an experiment exhibited at the Spring Show by the Department of Agriculture. My recollection of that experiment is that it was to show the farmer what he should not do.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  On a point of order, Sir, I beg to call your attention to the fact that you ruled Deputy McGovern out of order when he dealt with this exhibit at the Spring Show. Is the Minister for Agriculture now in order in bringing this matter up again?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I am [1910] not sure that I succeeded in preventing Deputy McGovern from making some references to the exhibit at the Spring Show. The Minister, I assume, is not going to discuss the matter in detail, but I take it he is going to refer to the remarks Deputy McGovern made on the experiment.

Dr. Ryan:  I have finished with the experiment. Deputy McGovern went on to talk of this 100-acre farm supporting 48 cattle. The farmer who would run a 100-acre farm to feed 48 cows and nothing else would not make a success of his farm.

Mr. McGovern: Information on Patrick Gregory McGovern  Zoom on Patrick Gregory McGovern  I did not mention a 100-acre farm. I mentioned a farm carrying 48 cattle.

Dr. Ryan:  Well, it was a large farm, and this ideal farmer was going to have 48 cattle and was not going to rear a single hen or a pig or grow a plot of potatoes or a drill of cabbage on his farm. He proposed to put 48 cattle on his farm, and he was going to lose on it.

Mr. McGovern: Information on Patrick Gregory McGovern  Zoom on Patrick Gregory McGovern  On the Department's farm?

Dr. Ryan:  We are not such fools in the Department as to do a thing like that. It is on the type of farm that Deputy McGovern refers to that there could well be a loss. Of course there would be a loss if a man had 48 cattle and nothing else. There are farms approximating to that where there are only cattle, but that type of farming is dying out. The Deputy talked about another farmer giving 6 cwts. of maize to a pig. That type of farmer also deserves to fail. The farmer who would feed a pig on 6 cwts. of maize and nothing else does not deserve to succeed. Farmers are better instructed in this country now than to feed their pigs on 6 cwts. of maize. They know something about balancing the feed for pigs in order to get the best return. The farmers Deputy McGovern is talking about are going to go, and it will not take an instructor to tell them how to go, because they could never exist on that sort of farming.

Someone asked me if I was a ploughman, the inference being, I believe, that I could not be successful as [1911] Minister for Agriculture unless I was. I did plough in my time, but I do not think it is absolutely necessary that a Minister for Agriculture should be able to do every type of farm work. It would be rather a severe test to apply to every Minister. If Deputies worked that out logically, it would lead them into rather strange speculations on the sort of qualifications each Minister should have.

Deputy Holohan said that my predecessor was also in favour of tillage, but not as a cash crop. He did not want grain as a cash crop. He wanted the grain grown and fed to stock. There is not a Deputy on the opposite side of the House who has not declared that it does not pay farmers to grow barley at 14/- a barrel or oats at 9/-. They are not satisfied with the price. Deputy Dillon and others tell me that we could get pure maize in for 4/- a cwt. if we would only allow it in. Is it not making an absolute humbug of Deputy Hogan's policy to tell us that he was advocating the growing of grain but not for sale, and at the same time to tell us that it does not pay a farmer to grow barley or oats?

Mr. O'Leary: Information on Daniel O'Leary  Zoom on Daniel O'Leary  They are different times altogether. There was no £6 on a beast to be faced at that time.

Dr. Ryan:  Different times? You had the position in the different times when, I take it, it did not pay a farmer under Deputy Hogan's régime to grow barley at 14/- a barrel.

Mr. Brodrick:  How well he fed 55 milch cows on his farm.

Dr. Ryan:  I have no doubt that he had a good policy. I say that Deputy Hogan is a clever man, and his policy was probably good, but when we get men like Deputy Holohan to interpret that policy, it is quite a different thing. Why should a farmer under Deputy Hogan's régime, when cattle were very high in price and pigs and sheep were very high, waste his land growing barley when he could import maize much cheaper? Is it not obvious that those Deputies who try to interpret Deputy Hogan's policy have made a humbug of the whole thing by talking as they have [1912] talked about maize, barley, oats and the price of cattle? I believe Deputy Hogan was quite genuine when he advised farmers to till more of their land. If he was genuine, he must have had some other argument besides the one used here by Deputies.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on Daniel O'Leary  Zoom on Daniel O'Leary  He did not intend to rob his neighbours, the same as you are trying to do.

Dr. Ryan:  Love your neighbour as yourself.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on Daniel O'Leary  Zoom on Daniel O'Leary  You have only contempt for some of your neighbours.

Dr. Ryan:  I am endeavouring to put it into practice by defending Deputy Hogan's policy against the Deputies opposite. It was suggested here that we should put this question of whether agriculture was paying to a jury of farmers. I think that is not necessary. Surely it is not, considering we have put it to a jury of the farmers of Ireland three times and three times they said: “We would rather go on as we are than go back to what we were before.” Whether that is a compliment to us or a kick at the other people, I do not know. Whether it is that they love us more or Fine Gael less, I do not know, but at any rate they have given that verdict.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  On a point of order. Is this relevant to the motion under discussion, what the Minister's reaction is to a motion disposed of a fortnight ago? Is what the Minister says in relation to a motion before the House a fortnight ago, proposing that the condition of farming be laid before a commission of inquiry, relevant to this motion?

Dr. Ryan:  I think I pointed out that a Deputy said it here last Friday in this debate.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Minister must not reply on this motion to anything said on any other motion. The Minister has no authority on this particular motion to refer to statements made on a previous motion and reply to them.

Dr. Ryan:  These county instructors are doing very good work amongst the young progressive farmers. Deputies [1913] opposite seem to be out of touch with the young progressive farmers. There are young and old progressive farmers who want to settle down to work and pay their way. Give them the chance to work and give them the services of the county instructors to instruct them in the type of farming they want to go in for. Let us give a chance to the country to settle down to work.

Mr. McGovern: Information on Patrick Gregory McGovern  Zoom on Patrick Gregory McGovern  That is what the motion asks.

Dr. Ryan:  I am appealing to the Deputy to give the progressive farmers a chance to settle down to work, get all the instruction they possibly can and pay their way. If Deputy McGovern wants to make any attempt at political propaganda or Party politics, he should at least leave these men alone and direct his efforts elsewhere. Let him go in some other direction for propaganda of that sort. If he allows the county instructors to do their own work, and gives these farmers a chance of going in their own way and making good, then his propaganda will not do much harm to anybody. I am not saying that the Deputy is an adept at propaganda. It might be better for him to leave that to the experts at Fine Gael headquarters. I think that to take the county instructors away from the work on which they are engaged, at the present moment, would be a disaster to the country.

This idea of county model farms is not a new one at all. There were a number of them here towards the end of the last century. I do not know for what reason, but the whole scheme was scrapped. When the Department of Agriculture was set up it went on the idea of colleges. As Deputies are aware there are three colleges, one at Clonakilty, one at Athenry and one at Ballyhaise. Their duty is to carry out experiments and they are doing that. They are engaged at the moment in growing a beet seed. No farmer could be expected to engage in that kind of experiment. It is very difficult to keep the beet from being pollenated with the seed from mangolds, turnips and so on, and it would be very difficult for a farmer to carry out an experiment of that kind. These experiments must be [1914] carried out in the colleges, and the result goes to the ordinary farmers. That is one explanation why these colleges never paid. They have to pay teachers and demonstrators and staffs, and they have to do a good deal of extra demonstration. When these demonstrations succeed they do not get the benefit by getting high prices for the stuff they produce because it is handed out to farmers and they have the benefit of it. You could not get these farms to pay.

Mr. McGovern: Information on Patrick Gregory McGovern  Zoom on Patrick Gregory McGovern  That is agreed.

Dr. Ryan:  It is necessary to have these colleges to carry out these experiments and to demonstrate to farmers what can be done in the way of improvement. These colleges are in existence for 30 years and they are the best type of experimental farms that could be set up by the Department. I think the type of model farm advocated by Deputy McGovern would not work at all. If you took away the instructors from their work at present you would be doing a great deal of harm to the agricultural interests of the country.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It is a great affliction upon any country to have a man like the present Minister for Agriculture responsible for its principal industry because, having listened to what the Minister had to say, it was borne in on me that he has no more sense of responsibility, in face of the great task he has undertaken, than a child three years old. He simply does not realise what his duties are. He rambled on here for 20 minutes to-night, and he rambled for ten or 20 minutes when this debate was on previously, and the only clear statement the Minister made was that Deputy Hogan's policy was good. This is the man who stumped the country and denounced Deputy Hogan, in all moods and tenses, as the man who ruined agriculture, destroyed the future of agriculture, and whose policy would only bring bankruptcy upon the farmers and every other section of the community. Now, after three years floundering about in the difficulties of agriculture, and having brought ruin and bankruptcy upon the farmers, he gets up and says that Deputy Hogan's policy was good. Was [1915] anything more barefaced or astonishing ever said in this country before? I sympathise with the Minister. I suppose Deputy Corkery's statement at the Ard Fheis shocked him into some realisation of his own folly. Deputy Corkery said that after three years of the Minister's administration a commission should be set up to examine into the conditions of the farmers. I shall quote Deputy Corkery's own words: “This thing,” he said, “has come to the breaking point with the people living in the poorer districts. They are barely existing at the present time, and it is the duty of the Government to see that some means will be devised by which they will be able to live in some kind of comfort.” That is the criticism of Deputy Corkery on the Minister's policy, after three years, and the only answer from the Minister himself is that Deputy Hogan's policy was good. The Minister can say more for Deputy Hogan's policy than Deputy Corkery for the Minister's.

I do not blame the Minister for opposing this resolution. If he set up demonstration farms in different counties in this country, to demonstrate upon them his agricultural policy, there would be a revolution. Every man put upon them would be in rags and destitution within two years of the taking on of the job. You cannot run a demonstration farm in any part of Ireland on the Minister's policy and make it a success. Every one of them would have to be subsidised. For one thing, there is not a single kind of agriculture that could be operated on the land on the Minister's policy without a subsidy of some kind from the consumer direct. The Minister says to-day that Deputy McGovern should have known that county instructors or employees are not in his Department. Has the Minister forgotten his own agricultural advisers?

Dr. Ryan:  They are not instructors.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Has he forgotten that these men are very largely responsible for the demonstration plots to which he referred? Did he not refer to the demonstration plots that the instructors [1916] are carrying on? Does he now know that his own supervisors are carrying them on?

Dr. Ryan:  Not everywhere.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It is common knowledge that the Department of Agriculture at the present time is in a state of chaos, and the Minister cannot find his own way through it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  We are not discussing the Department of Agriculture now.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I am discussing the manifest fact that the Minister does not know what is going on in the Department.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  That can be done at some other time.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The Minister challenged Deputy McGovern when the Deputy stated that the instructors were responsible for the demonstrations.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy made it manifestly clear that they were.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I did not wish to make that clear. I described what was going on in the Department.

Dr. Ryan:  It is a deliberate lie for the Deputy to say what he has said.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Minister will please sit down. It cannot be said of any Deputy in this House that he indulged in a deliberate falsehood. That must be withdrawn.

Dr. Ryan:  I withdraw that, but I want to say——

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Is this a point of order?

Dr. Ryan:  I said that the instructors were under the county committees, and that is true.

Mr. MacDermot: Information on Frank McDermot  Zoom on Frank McDermot  It is not a point of order.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It is not a point of order. The Minister has admitted that the terms of the motion are quite proper. The agricultural supervisors are responsible for demonstration plots all through the country.

[1917]Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Where? What parts of the country?

Dr. Ryan:  Yes, where?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  County Roscommon is one place, and County Cavan is another.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Does the Deputy suggest that these plots are carried out anywhere except under the direction of the county committees of agriculture?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I do.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on Daniel O'Leary  Zoom on Daniel O'Leary  Are they not carried out with the sanction of the Department of Agriculture?

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Oh, well, we do not want to go into the question of sanctions now.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  My point is quite clear. They are carried out in many counties under the supervision of the agricultural supervisors who are paid directly by the Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Ryan:  The Deputy has come down to many counties now.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The Minister admits——

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  I do not think they can be carried out outside the congested districts.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  In the counties with which Deputy McGovern and I are familiar, the supervisor responsible to the Minister for Agriculture carries on these plots.

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  He does not.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Now, let us come to the next point made by the Minister, to the effect that he could not understand how Deputy McGovern made his case in respect of the 47-cow man. He then went on to press that, if we did not think that grain could be grown as a cash crop, how could we make the case that grain should have been grown and fed to live stock during the régime of Deputy Hogan, when he was Minister for Agriculture, when we could buy maize at 4/-? There again, of course, the Minister has got into a state of wild confusion. He has forgotten that, in Deputy Hogan's régime, maize meal was maize meal. [1918] In the régime of the present Minister for Agriculture, maize meal is no longer maize meal. It is a balanced ration consisting partly of maize meal and partly of grain. No sane man would feed his live stock exclusively on pure maize meal——

Dr. Ryan:  That is what I said.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  ——and even if you could buy maize meal for 2/- odd, you are bound to grow grain and introduce some grain into the mixture. In order to do that, however, it is not necessary to cart the grain all over the country, and it is very much more economical to grow the grain upon your own land and grind it and feed it to your own stock on your own land, than to do what we are doing at present, and that is growing grain in Carlow and shipping it to Sligo, then having it mixed in Sligo with maize meal and shipped back to the place of consignment, paying freight for hundreds of miles of carriage, paying millers' expenses for processing, and then feeding it to live stock. It was sensible and wise in Deputy Hogan's time to use the home-grown grain economically in the growth of live stock, and the result was a modest prosperity for everybody, but it is folly and imbecility to grow grain, to fix a price for it, to cart it all over the country, to pay millers for processing it, and——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Surely, this is travelling from the terms of the motion.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  It is a direct reply, Sir, to the statement made by the Minister for Agriculture, and in one moment the matter will be disposed of.

Mr. Jordan: Information on Stephen Jordan  Zoom on Stephen Jordan  And it is an amazing statement.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Yes, as Deputy Jordan aptly intervenes, it is an amazing statement. It is amazing that Dr. Ryan is the Minister for Agriculture in this country. It is amazing, but it is true. That is the tragic element in it.

Dr. Ryan:  It is tragic for the Deputy.

[1919]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  But we have got to face it, and it is deplorable that we should have to teach the Minister, across the floor of the House, the elements of the business he is supposed to be in charge of. It is amazing, as Deputy Jordan says, but it is true, and it is largely Deputy Jordan's fault and that of the remainder of his colleagues who have delivered us into the hands of this unhappy man. It is amazing and gratifying also that Deputy Corkery, at least, is throwing off the thraldom. Let us pray Heaven that his colleagues will do the same thing, but I doubt if they have the ability or the courage to follow his example.

This resolution is an admirable one, and one that I strongly recommend to Dáil Eireann. The Minister, again, in his muddle-headed way, cannot differentiate in his mind between experimental farms and demonstration farms. Experimental farms ought to lose money. They are there for the purpose of losing money. If you are running an experimental farm, you ought to try out every rational proposal that is made to you. Out of those proposals you may get 50 per cent. of successes. If you do, you are doing very well; but of course you have got to pay for the 50 per cent. of failures. You have got to pay the best scientists, the best research workers, and a competent staff, in order to ensure that your experiments will be carried out in the best possible way. It is only when the experimental farm has done with the problem that the demonstration farm should come into the question at all. I think that every rational farmer in this House will agree with me that a pennyworth of successful demonstration is worth a pound's worth of theory. I was talking to a friend of mine recently and he told me the following story. He was ploughing in his field, and an agricultural instructor came to the gate and then into the field where my friend was ploughing, and said to my friend: “You are doing that wrong.” My friend replied: “Well, if I am, I should be glad to learn how to do it right.” The instructor proceeded to point out to my friend the way in which a furrow should be ploughed, [1920] and my friend said to him: “Well, take the plough and show me how to do it.” The agricultural instructor replied: “Oh, I never had a plough in my hand in my life; it is only the theory that I know.” Whereupon my friend suggested to him that he should go away and learn how to plough and then come back and teach him how to do it.

Dr. Ryan:  Was he a county instructor?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Yes, I think so. I understand he was a county instructor. That kind of thing is extremely bad from the point of view of efficient agriculture all over the country, and it is extremely bad because there are amongst the instructors and the supervisors some most excellent men and some highly competent men.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Competent ploughmen?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Now, wait a moment. The Deputy had his chance of speaking on this motion.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Yes, but I did not ramble like that.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  There are excellent and competent instructors in this country, who are capable of carrying out efficiently any farming operation, and from whom a great many farmers in this country would have much to learn; but if an ordinary farmer once comes in contact with the kind of theorist I have just described, his reaction thereafter to any efficient and useful instructor is one of antagonism and contempt. I want to ensure that every instructor will be a man who will command the confidence and respect of anybody whom he undertakes to instruct. I want to increase their numbers considerably, because I believe there is a lot of modern development taking place in agriculture which ought to be brought to the attention of our agricultural community and which can be used in Ireland materially to increase the wealth of the community.

One of the great objections to increasing the number of agricultural instructors is the cost. You have got to pay them, and there is no money.

[1921] The scheme that Deputy McGovern has in mind, and that I have in mind, will involve no cost at all, and what I want to achieve is that these instructors will earn their own salaries. Now, if the methods that they advocate are sound methods, if they are methods that the ordinary farmers of the country ought to take up, then they are moneymaking methods, and if we can put each of these instructors on a farm of his own and say to him: “Look here, if you expect your neighbours, whom you have undertaken to instruct, to make money out of their land, you must earn your salary on this land that we give to you, and when you have demonstrated to your neighbours your capacity to earn a good livelihood out of that farm, then your neighbours will be anxious to come and learn from you how it is done; to know how you are doing so much better than they are, but until you are able to do that no farmer is going to believe that your instruction is worth listening to.”

Now, most of us are aware that in almost every parish in this country there is a derelict farm, or a farm that is not being properly run. Very often it is a farm that has been allowed to run into rushes; it belongs to someone who is in America or to someone who has retired from farming. I believe that a good many of those farms could be bought by the Department of Agriculture, and I would put on such a farm, which would be typical of the holdings in the neighbourhood, an agricultural instructor there to practise the theory that he was preaching to his neighbours.

Mr. Smith: Information on Patrick Smith  Zoom on Patrick Smith  We will buy one for the Deputy. I will contribute to the cost.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy can contribute to the debate later.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  No. That is one of the things that Deputy Smith was never able to do. Orating at a street corner on a barrel marks the limit of the Deputy's capacity. I would, therefore, ask the instructor to demonstrate to his neighbours his capacity to earn a living. That would serve another useful purpose, because I hold the [1922] theory to earn money out of land is not the only test of good farming. Any man who knows anything of farming can go into a farm of good land and earn money out of it for six or seven years, but when he leaves the land will be no good to him or to anybody else, because he will have taken all the good out of it if he does not farm the land well. But, put a good farmer into a farm of bad land, and he will not only make a living out of it, but he will make a bigger living out of it every year he is in it, and when he leaves it the land will be better than it was when he went into it. Therefore, I would not only provide the land wherewith to pay the instructor, and I would improve the land that I put the instructor on.

Thirdly, I believe that these farms could be used for the purpose of providing an opportunity of apprenticeship in farming for small farmers' sons. One of the great difficulties that we have in this country is that all through the congested areas the small farmer has not got sufficient capital to give his son an education either in agriculture or in some other branch of work. If what we propose were done, it would give a fair start in life to that boy. At present he has got to start working as an apprentice in some branch of business when he comes out of school. He has to do that because his parents cannot afford to pay fees for him. Now, I hold that at present a great many of those children, and they are only children of 14 or 15 years of age, become apprenticed to business. There are hundreds of them in this country at the present time. Instead of apprenticing them in a shop I would like to see these farmers' children apprenticed on just such a farm as we have adumbrated here. Let them start on a farm identical with their fathers' under the guidance of an expert instructor and there let them work. At first their work will not be of very much use, but they will be able to help, and after two or three years they will become gradually more useful on that farm. They will at least earn their keep, and while earning that they will learn the practice of modern methods in the way of getting better [1923] returns from the kind of land on which they may expect to spend their lives if they determine to remain farmers and not to leave the rural areas to seek their fortune in the cities, either here or abroad.

Now another useful purpose is to be served by these farms. At the present time the Minister for Agriculture is surrounded by a body of some of the finest experts probably in the world on agricultural matters. The Department of Agriculture in this country, if allowed to do its work, is probably one of the most efficient departments of agriculture in the world, but men who have devoted themselves for years to administration and science cannot avoid getting out of contact with the everyday difficulties of the small congest farmer in Donegal, Mayo, Cavan, Leitrim, Galway and Kerry. If we had agricultural instructors working and living on 20 or 30-acre farms, making their own salaries out of what they could raise out of the land, and if the Minister for Agriculture advocated some particular new scheme that he wished to push through, he would immediately have a source of information available direct from every one of those farms scattered all over the country as to what the costs of the scheme that he was seeking to promote really were in practice. It would be an enormous check on the crank and the theorist who was trying to get the farmers of the country to take up some pet fad if, at the moment that proposal were made, it went into operation on all these demonstration farms scattered all over the country. It would then be possible to have immediately an authentic report to the Minister for Agriculture from his own agricultural instructors as to what their personal experience was of this particular scheme in practice.

There is another valuable purpose to be served by these farms. Apart from the particular special schemes that an individual Minister might set on foot, there is such a question as the one that has arisen at present in a very acute form—the cost of pig production. The Minister himself has [1924] said that it is extremely difficult to get reliable figures of what it actually costs to produce pork under practical conditions in the country. If he had these farms going, say, for a period of ten years he would have before him unanswerable evidence of the real cost of pig production under the conditions obtaining on every small farm in the country, not mark you, under ideal conditions and not under the conditions that obtain in the colleges at Glasnevin or Ballyhaise, or in some other highly-developed agricultural institution, but under the conditions obtaining in the homes of the people, and that is what matters. There is no use in telling a farmer that he can produce pork at 40/- or 45/- per cwt. if he had the right equipment. His answer is that he has not the right equipment and that he cannot have it. He will tell you that there is no running water in his place, no electric light, and none of the modern amenities such as they have at Glasnevin. He will say: “I cannot run the place as if I had accommodation for 1,000 pigs which could be fed by modern methods with great economy of labour, and having to produce pigs with the accommodation available to me the result is that my costs are higher than the costs in a scientific establishment such as Glasnevin.” But, if the Minister were able to say to him: “There is a farmer next door to your farm operating under exactly the same conditions that are available to you, and as he and 100 other instructors are producing pork at such-and-such a price, you can also produce it at that price if you will only consult the instructor. Go to his farm, see how he is doing it and find out how he is turning to the best advantage whatever amenities are available.”

That is a reasonable request. After all the farmers are not fools. They are very hard-working, intelligent men. Once you drive home the lesson that there is in the immediate neighbourhood a demonstration farm operating under exactly the same conditions as they have to operate under, and that it is making more money than they can make without impoverishing the land, you will not have to press them to go [1925] to see what is happening there. They will go there themselves, and be glad of the opportunity to find some method superior to that which they know, some method that will make it possible for them to provide a somewhat higher standard of living for the families they are trying to support on their holdings. The Minister admits that at one time the Department did yield to the unanswerable logic of the case put forward by Deputy McGovern, to set up these farms, and that that scheme was abandoned. Why? It is perfectly simple to explain, because schemes similar to those of the present Minister for Agriculture's wheat scheme would not work. When the Department of Agriculture was set up Sir Horace Plunkett was at its head, and with him were a number of well-intentioned, earnest men who thought of all sorts of high-falutin' schemes, including the setting up of demonstration farms to show to farmers.

Mr. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  As a high-falutin' scheme!

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  They set out to show farmers what these high-falutin' schemes could do for them. On some of these farms not only did the schemes fail, but they resulted in stripping the grass off the land. They achieved an amazing result, as not only did the crops fail, but the grass was prevented from growing.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  When was that?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The Deputy will find out if he makes inquiries. The result was that demonstration farms stopped. They stopped because they showed up the complete futility of certain of the schemes set on foot at that time. If they are set up now, and if the present Minister for Agriculture remains long in office, they will stop again.

A Deputy:  You have walked into it now.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  They would stop again, because it would be demonstrated beyond all doubt that the methods of agriculture advocated by the present Minister are quite as inept and quite as futile as some of the schemes that [1926] were started 35 years ago. There is another advantage to be derived from the scheme that Deputy McGovern has put before the House. It has been suggested that the instructors should be installed upon a type of farm with which we are all familiar, which has become run down and gone into rushes or in which the land has deteriorated. In my opinion, at the end of a ten years' period that land, if properly farmed, would come back to the condition in which it ought to be. I have no doubt that when that time came certain farmers in the neighbourhood might be inclined to sell. If it was a congested area, such a farm would be more properly employed as a home for landless men. The Minister for Agriculture could then say: “Very well, is there a landless man ready to buy it and to pay for it? The land has been improved. The holding is now economic and fit for any competent farmer, and if there is one ready to buy we will sell.”

Mr. Jordan: Information on Stephen Jordan  Zoom on Stephen Jordan  The present Minister, in ten years time, can face the country after having done all you are saying.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I have little hope that if I were preaching common sense to the Minister for 20 years I could teach him. However, hope burns eternal in the human breast, and I intend to go on trying to teach the Minister sense, until the people of this country realise that the task is impossible. When they do, I confidently anticipate that they will put him where he cught to be, back on his farm, and then, probably, someone else will succeed him from this side of the House.

Mr. T. Kelly: Information on Thomas Kelly  Zoom on Thomas Kelly  Are you going to do that all the time?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I think the time is lost. It may take ten years or it may take longer before the people of the country awake to the fact that he is not competent in the job he holds. When these farms are got into a condition in which they would yield a satisfactory living for enterprising farmers the Minister responsible should be free to sell them.

Mr. Jordan: Information on Stephen Jordan  Zoom on Stephen Jordan  The Minister responsible?

[1927]Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  One must dot one's “i's” when addressing members of the Fianna Fáil Party. The Minister should be free to offer these farms for sale to enterprising landless men who want homesteads. If such men were forthcoming the instructors could be removed to other farms where their activities could yield useful results. I am satisfied that at the present time the agricultural instructors are not being made use of to the best advantage. They have not the confidence of the people, and the reason for that is that the people doubt the capacity of instructors to earn a living on land that the ordinary people have to work. The people distrust them for the same reason that many of us distrust them. They distrust theorists and demand that if instruction is to be given in practical farming it shall be given by practical farmers. The best use of these instructors is not being made because they are not brought sufficiently into contact with the younger generation. The knowledge and instruction that they have to offer is not being made available for the people who are now growing up. All these difficulties can be overcome by the suggestion put forward in Deputy McGovern's motion, and enormous additional advantage will be secured. If, as I believe, these instructors could earn their own salaries on the land, the objection to increasing their numbers would be done away with, and we could increase them up to saturation point. As a result that instruction would be available for every farmer, and an enormous number of useful positions would be created for farmers' sons instead of having them on the dole or employed on relief works scratching the sides of roads. They could then be trained as useful agriculturists. They could be trained to help their neighbours, and could be made self-supporting men, with the prospect before them of decent respectable labour, and a decent respectable livelihood, which at the present time is denied to about 70,000 of them, if we are to judge by the unemployment figures supplied by the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

I have heard no argument put forward [1928] by the Minister for Agriculture against Deputy McGovern's proposal. I have not heard him advance one solid reason why it is not necessary to bring the fruits of modern development in agriculture closer to the people and to make the discoveries of science more readily available to them. I am going to offer Deputy McGovern the only explanation—and I think it is a true one—why the Minister turns from his suggestion as he would fly from the plague. It is the reason that made the Department of Agriculture abandon this scheme before. If demonstration farms were set up in the country at the present time, and fully competent instructors put upon them and invited to earn their livelihood there for a year, every single one of them would have to come to the Minister and tell him what we are telling him every week in this House: That there is no branch of agriculture, from the cow to the egg, which can be carried on in this country at the present time without a subsidy from the Government.

That is something he does not want to have told to him by his own employees; that is something he is praying to God will not be told to him by his own colleagues. They are beginning to talk and he does not like it. Let Deputy McGovern cherish no futile hope that he will persuade the present Minister for Agriculture to add to that chorus of discontent that is rising up through the country. He will not; he is going to carry on in the muddled, futile, incompetent way in which he has carried on for the last three years. He is going to do that, not because he is a knave, but because he is a coward, because he knows that President de Valera will lay his whip across his shoulders if he does not. He will do it because he knows he has to grin and bear it. He is one of the eggs which President de Valera announced his intention of breaking——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  What about the motion?

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  I am just winding-up with the Minister. It is a case of the eggs and the omelette. The Minister is one of the eggs which the President [1929] proposes to break in order to make his omelette, and the Minister is trying to grin and bear it while the breaking carries on.

Mr. Corkery: Information on Daniel Corkery  Zoom on Daniel Corkery  Deputy McGovern, in opening this debate, referred to the prophecies of St. Colmcille, whatever they had to do with the motion. Deputy Dillon has given a lecture on everything except farming, and he has seen fit to quote me to prove that his knowledge of farming is right. I am not a farmer but I know a fair share about farming and what Deputy Dillon quoted was not said by me about farming. I spoke of people living in mountainy areas where they have not got land and the only bearing it could have on this motion would be that if some of those people were put into the land that is held by Deputy Dillon's friends, there would be no necessity for demonstration plots. Those people, where they have got land, are able to till it and make it pay. They have not got the outlook of Deputy Dillon and his Party that this good land of Ireland is only fit for bullocks. They till the land and grow wheat and food for the people. They are not like Deputy Dillon and Deputy McGovern depending on prophecies of St. Colmcille or anybody else to prove that they are able to get a living. I only hope that those people will get a chance of demonstrating what they can do with land and what the people of Ireland at the present day who have land and are prepared to work it are doing— making it pay.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I am rather surprised that Deputy Dillon should give his blessing to what he has described as a high-falutin' policy. Apparently the Party opposite can think of nothing at present but high-falutin' policies and undoubtedly this is the most highfalutin' policy we have heard yet. We have some other use for our agricultural instructors—advising farmers who are prepared to work their land and till it and make money on it—besides putting them into a farm to teach these dunderheads who will never learn anything. I will suggest a cheaper method of achieving the aims which the Deputies opposite are apparently so [1930] anxious about. I suggest that these Deputies be apprenticed to good farmers like me, to farmers who are prepared to work their land and make their land pay. Some good neighbours of mine would take a few in and teach them.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  Would you charge any fees?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I will even take Deputy Anthony and I guarantee that he will get something to do besides travelling the bogs with a gun, even though it were only the timber gun he had on Parnell Bridge. We would teach them farming and I would like to take Deputy Dillon down with me as an apprentice for a while. I can assure the Deputy that it is not his tea and toast he will be taking at half-past ten in bed when he would be finished with me. He would hear the roll call at 5.30 a.m.: “Get up to the cows, boy,” and out he would have to go. I guarantee also that his spats and nice shoes would be very little use to him in the beet field pulling beet, and when I would be done with him he would have less nonsense and more commonsense to talk here. He would be able to talk here as a practical farmer and as a man who knew something more about farming than he learns by looking over a hedge at a man working in the fields.

Mr. Jordan: Information on Stephen Jordan  Zoom on Stephen Jordan  By the time you would be finished he would be seen dead in a field of wheat, whether he liked it or not.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I would ring him out fine and early in the morning and put him through his paces. When he was done with the cows, he would have mind for his breakfast and one slice of toast would be very little good to him before he would have mind for his dinner after being out for four or five hours pulling beet. That is one way in which we could teach these farmers farming.

Mr. S. Brodrick: Information on Seán Broderick  Zoom on Seán Broderick  You know what work is now.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  It is not “mooching” around he would be. We would take some of the paunches off them. That is one way in which we could train [1931] these gentlemen, and I guarantee that they would be fairly good practical farmers after we had them for four or five years. I do not believe that if I had a hold of Deputy Dillon for four or five years he would cock his nose at wheat or beet. He would be very glad to have a piece of wheaten cake. Loaf bread would be very little use to him working on the farm and, further, he would not have any mind for getting back to the bullock. He has possibilities; he is a good, lively young fellow, and if he were pulled out early in the morning and got a few risers here and there and a four-pronged pike in his hand, he would work, and after four or five years he would make a passable labouring boy. He would not make a first-class farmer but he would be worth his grub. I do not think he is at present.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  What about the motion?

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I am putting forward a cheaper alternative to the motion. That is the only principle you can work on. Let us take these gentlemen, who say they cannot make farming pay, into good farms.

Mr. S. Brodrick: Information on Seán Broderick  Zoom on Seán Broderick  We do not have our men out at 5.30 in the morning.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I know you do not. You would not get up yourselves, not to mind the men.

Mr. Brodrick:  Fianna Fáil would not get up at 5.30.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  They were up too early in the morning for you. That is one suggestion I give and I think it is a very good one. I ask Deputy Dillon to dream on that to-night and, when he comes down to me, I will give him a chance.

Mr. Morrissey: Information on Daniel Morrissey  Zoom on Daniel Morrissey  That would not be a dream; it would be a nightmare.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  If he reports for duty on Monday morning, I will give him a chance and he can serve his apprenticeship for ten years. When he comes back, he will know all about farming [1932] from A to Z. He will know how to milk cows and he will know a little more about wheat and beet. If Deputy McGovern would go over to Deputy Paddy Smith and apprentice himself for a few years, he would learn a little farming.

Mr. O'Leary: Information on Daniel O'Leary  Zoom on Daniel O'Leary  And drop £30 a month.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  By all means. We could apprentice Deputy O'Leary to Deputy Corkery. There are any amount of young farmers in my district and in the mountainous parts of Deputy Corkery's district who could be put on these Deputies' farms They would put them in good heart and when they would come back after serving their apprenticeship they would find them in good order. We could send them down to Deputy Holohan of Kilkenny and they would grow wheat and beet on his land.

Mr. Holohan: Information on Richard Holohan  Zoom on Richard Holohan  They know what work is there.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  When you come back after serving your apprenticeship——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  The Deputy must not address members of the House in the second person.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  I regret having transgressed the rules. I suggest in all fairness that, since Deputy Holohan states here that he cannot make farming pay, he should hand over his farm to some farmer who says he can make it pay. He could learn from him for a few years and that would be far better than taking these instructors away from farmers who need their services badly. It would be a far more feasible scheme and cheaper in the long run because you would make farmers of these gentlemen. These young men whom we would put in their holdings would make good farms of them and would plough land that has not been ploughed for fifty years. If Deputy McGovern were working down on my farm and getting up at 5.30 in the morning, St. Colmcille would not be troubling him. He would be thinking of the cows and would have no time to think about prophecies.

[1933] Deputy Dillon alluded to the late Minister for Agriculture and his policy. I remember a rather amazing statement made here by the late Minister for Agriculture. It may account for some of the grumbling we hear from Deputies opposite in connection with the live stock scheme. The then Minister said that if that scheme were carried on as it had been carried on for the six years he was in office it might result in fine, big cows and fine, big bullocks but that it would be very hard to find a decent milch cow in the country. That statement was made by the late Minister for Agriculture in relation to one scheme which cost a lot of money. That may account for the cows milking badly since Fianna Fáil came into office. Deputy Anthony told us all about what the farmers around his constituency told him regarding the economic war. The working farmers around Deputy Anthony's city have, like myself, a very remunerative market for their milk and they have very little reason to complain.

Mr. Finlay: Information on John Finlay  Zoom on John Finlay  They do not work the pump.

Mr. Corry: Information on Martin John Corry  Zoom on Martin John Corry  If instead of travelling around with his gun, Deputy Anthony would make a few inquiries from these working farmers and find out how they are making farming pay, it would be better. Of course, he will have no need for that in the future because we have confined him to the borough boundaries. Three or four years ago, we have learned, a farm run by Deputy Cosgrave's Government lost £4,000 a year. I am sure that no Deputy on the opposite side would admit that our Minister for Agriculture is at all as good as the late Minister for Agriculture. Surely, in these circumstances when £4,000 a year was lost on a farm run under Deputy Hogan's administration, they would expect a loss on a farm run under the administration of the present Minister. If they had seven or eight of these farms in every county for nine or ten years and a loss of £4,000 on each, it is no wonder that they say that the unfortunate farmers were broken, smashed and bankrupt. Let us try to [1934] be sensible on this matter. This scheme was properly described by Deputy Dillon as high-falutin'. Let Deputies get down to bed-rock and, for once in their lives, take my advice. Let them come down to farmers in my district who are making farming pay. If they do that there will be less of this howling about bad times or about the Government. They will be sadder and wiser men. Of course, they will be a little older. That cannot be helped. But we will knock all the rheumatics out of them. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.


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