Thursday, 4 February 1937
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. O'Leary: asked the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware of the hardships imposed on the people of the country by the admixture policy of his Department; and, if so, if with a view to giving them relief steps will be taken to discontinue or amend this policy.
Dr. Ryan: I do not agree with the Deputy's suggestion that hardship is imposed on the people in the country by the admixture scheme. I am satisfied that the results of the scheme have been beneficial to the country, and I do not intend to discontinue this policy which results in the increased consumption of home-grown grain in substitution for imported feeding stuffs.
Mr. O'Leary: Is the Minister aware that the price of pure Indian meal in Derry City at present is £7 per ton and in Belfast £6 17s. 6d. per ton, while the price of the admixture is £9 5s. 0d. to £10 a ton? Does the Minister believe that the imposition of an extra 2/6 or 3/- per cwt. is not putting an impossible hardship on people in the poor parts of the country?
Mr. Anthony: Is the Minister aware of the desperate plight to which the small farmers in West Cork have been reduced? Is he aware of the position, especially in Durrus, about which representations have been made to the Minister for Industry and Commerce? Surely the Minister for Agriculture must be aware that many of these small farmers are reduced to the verge of starvation in portions of West Cork, especially the portion I have mentioned, and does he not know that they are in a desperate position at the present moment? My information is based on the correspondence which has taken place between the parish priest of that district and the Minister for Industry and Commerce in relation to allowing Indian meal in free of duty.
Mr. Dillon: Is the Minister aware that in large areas in West Donegal maize meal is used as a human food, and that the increased cost has placed an immense burden on those people? Is he further aware that the increased cost of maize meal mixture has placed an immense burden of at least 18/- a pig on every producer of fat pigs in the country? Is he further aware that, comparing the prices ruling for barley and oats in this country up to the harvest of last year with those ruling in 1931, there has been no increase in the average price of barley and oats at all, and that while there has been no increase in the price of barley or oats, there has been an increase of from 3/- to 5/-, according to the time, in the price of maize meal mixture as compared with the price of plain meal in Northern Ireland and Great Britain?
Mr. Anthony: Surely the Minister is aware that certain correspondence has taken place between representatives in Durrus, West Cork, and his Department or the Department of Industry and Commerce? Therefore, I think that we should have at this stage, either from the Minister for Agriculture or the Minister for Industry and Commerce, some statement which would guide those people  in the future. Is the Minister prepared to allow in the Indian meal free of duty? The Minister must be aware that the cost of the mixture to those poor people is one that they cannot bear, and that it is not economic for them to produce pigs. The Minister must be aware of all those facts. In view of the circumstances which I have related, the Minister for Agriculture or the Minister for Industry and Commerce must, I feel sure, be aware that something should be done to relieve the position of the unfortunate farmers in that part of the country. They are almost on the verge of starvation. They are living to-day on potatoes and milk. They cannot afford to buy bread, and that is a fact that cannot be disputed.
Mr. O'Leary: The Minister on one occasion made a statement in this House that it took 6 cwt. of meal to fatten a pig. In view of the increase in the cost of feeding stuffs, that increase is imposing a very severe hardship on the people in the poorer parts of the country.
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