Thursday, 4 February 1937
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim Bhreise ná raghaidh thar £10 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1937, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Talmhaíochta agus seirbhísí áirithe atá fé riaradh na hOifige sin, maraon le hIldheontaisí-i-gCabhair.
That a Supplementary sum not exceeding £10 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1937, 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.
I would like to say a few words about the sub-heads so that Deputies may understand the necessity for this Vote. Sub-head 1, F (3) Veterinary College, £1,340. That is required to meet the cost of reorganisation of the staff of the college. There was no revision of the staff either in  numbers or scale of salaries since 1915, although in the meantime the course for veterinary students has been extended from four to five years. It was found necessary some time ago to increase the number of professors and lecturers and also to increase the scale of salaries. For the present year an additional sum of £1,340 is required.
The next item is G (3)—Improvement of Live Stock—The £5 required is a token provision for the purchase of thoroughbred stallions. The Commission of Inquiry into the horse-breeding industry recommended amongst other things the purchase of high-class thoroughbred stallions. There will be a substantial provision for this purpose in the annual Estimates for the coming year, and this token Estimate is put in in case a stallion of the type required might turn up and might be purchased by the Department.
Dr. Ryan: No; thoroughbreds for racing. With regard to sub-head H— Grants to County Committees of Agriculture—under the present law and regulation, a committee of agriculture is entitled to pound for pound against what is raised in the county rate. In preparing the annual Estimates, we cannot be sure how much the county council intends to raise. We do know what the county committee proposes, but we do not know at that stage what the county council will sanction, and this amount of £2,971 is required to make up the deficit on the Estimate of what would be required by county committees last year.
There is a sum of £2,881 in respect of land reclamation. This sum will be required for the current year for the salaries and expenses of 44 land reclamation supervisors. Additional temporary men were put on for the land reclamation schemes during the winter months. Roughly between  3,000 and 4,000 acres came under our reclamation schemes up to this, but during the present winter the area is likely to be about 10,000 acres. This is a scheme with which Deputies are familiar, in which a grant is made to the owner of a small holding in congested districts, and, in fact, outside the congested districts now, to reclaim part of his own land and bring it into production. A sum of £100,000 has been allocated out of the Vote for employment schemes. Of that, £50,000 is being spent on land reclamation; £30,000 on the distribution of seeds— grain and potatoes—to smallholders; and £20,000 on the distribution of artificial manures and of lime to smallholders. This sum will be recouped out of that Vote.
Dr. Ryan: No, it may perhaps not be recouped this year. With regard to item K (1)—Agricultural Societies and Shows—£500 was voted originally for this for the expenses of the Department's exhibit at the Royal Dublin Society's Show and other shows. It requires to be supplemented. There was a Grant-in-Aid given to the Royal Horticultural and Agricultural Society's Autumn Fruit Show of £230; £50 to the Munster Agricultural Society for their autumn show; and there was a shortage of £206 in respect of the Department's exhibit at Balls-bridge.
With regard to sub-head M (4)— Loans for Agricultural Purposes—I think there is nothing to be added to the explanation given in the Estimate. There is an additional provision for loans for the purchase of premium bulls of £1,000, of hand-sprayers, £550, and of agricultural implements, £6,000; to what is already voted owing to an under-estimate in the original annual Estimate. Item M (5)—Improvement  of the Creamery Industry—arises also in a number of respects which were unforeseen. The scheme under the Dairy Disposals Board for reorganisation of the Dingle Peninsula proved more successful, in the sense that there was more milk available, than was estimated by the Department, and this necessitated a larger central creamery and the erection of two auxiliary creameries sooner than was anticipated. There was a reorganisation of the Ballymacelligott group in Kerry and improvement in the Rathmore group.
The additional sum required of £2,145 under item M (7)—Oats and Barley Purchase Scheme—is in addition to the token amount already voted. Towards the end of 1935, the merchants undertook to purchase whatever oats and barley were available at a fixed price, the Department guaranteeing that they would get sale for it by the 31st May following. There was this slight loss on the transaction which arose in this way, that whatever oats and barley they had on hands at the period mentioned, they were authorised to sell to the maize millers at the price which the Department promised to give them, and the expenses incurred in having that corn transferred to the maize millers is being paid for now out of this Supplementary Estimate.
Dr. Ryan: Yes. I do not remember the exact price, but let us assume that we fixed 10/6 a barrel, the price on 30th June would have come up to that amount by reason of the guarantee. Item M (10) is a small vote for compensation to an officer for injury to clothing. With regard to N (1)— Diseases of Animals Acts—when the Order dealing with the warble fly came into operation last year it was worked very successfully on the whole. After it had been in operation for some time, there were a certain number of deaths of animals due to what might be described as rather vigorous application of the Act, in that, where the warble was removed by squeezing and afterwards, in some cases, by a certain  amount of too vigorous rubbing in of the powder, the animal got a sort of ptomaine poisoning when part of the warble remained behind.
Dr. Ryan: Yes, it is a form of ptomaine poisoning caused by part of the warble remaining and becoming absorbed. It was considered at the time that if no compensation were offered, it might have a very bad effect on the administration of the Order in general, and it was decided to pay this compensation on a veterinary's certificate.
Dr. Ryan: Yes, in all cases. The next item is O.2.—Dairy Produce Acts. The amount required in this case is principally for the purpose of paying temporary assistants for the collection of the farm butter levy who were employed towards the end of last year. With regard to O.3.— Destructive Insects and Pests Acts— this amount was paid to additional inspectors under the Potatoes Acts. O.9.—Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Acts: Again this is an increased provision in respect of appointing additional cereals inspectors, and the cost in particular of red marvel seed wheat under the scheme for the supplying of a sufficient quantity of red marvel seed from our own home-grown wheat, as we found particular difficulty last spring in getting imported seed when the season for sowing red marvel came around. With regard to O.13. —Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Acts —this amount is required——
Dr. Ryan: I think I can deal with O.10 and O.13 together. The original Estimate provided for £100,000 for the purchase, storage and sale of butter for export, and under the change in the agreement with Germany more butter would be exported than was anticipated at that time. When the Estimates were being prepared the agreement  with Germany was on a 3 to 1 basis. It was subsequently altered to a 2 to 1 basis, and on 1st January of this year it was altered to a 3 to 2 basis. On that account more butter would be sold. The same would apply to eggs. The sum of £100,000 was originally provided, and that has to be increased in order to make up for the additional export of eggs under the altered agreement. The same applies to cattle. The original Estimate was for £200,000, and that has also to be increased. Of course, against those, there will be corresponding receipts from sales as an appropriation. The Estimates for 1936-7 were naturally provisional, as I have already said; we could not have foreseen the alterations that were to be made in the agreement. There was also a change in the Belgian trade agreement. The quota for the importation of cattle into Belgium from Saorstát Eireann has been increased from 120,000 kilos, which would be about 2,400 cwts, to 150,000 kilos or 3,000 cwts.—that is on a live-weight basis, allowed into Belgium weekly since 1st December, 1936. I said that an account of the receipts and expenditure in connection with the export of cattle would be submitted in due course to the Oireachtas in accordance with the requirements of the Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Acts.
There is another item under O.13. which has not been covered, and that is the position of canned beef manufacturers. At the time when the agreement was being made with the Waterford Co-operative factory for the manufacture of canned beef there were two applicants who substantiated claims that they were about to engage in the canned beef business, and had purchased machinery to that end. Their claims were duly acknowledged and they have now been settled for a sum of £1,410 between the two. Then there is also the distribution of cattle export licences, which will cost £2,300. The provision is for the salary and expenses of supervisors and temporary assistant supervisors, who are allocated to the different counties to inspect the cattle of those who apply for fat cattle licences.
Dr. Ryan: Last year the county committees employed their own men, but this year the assistant supervisors who had been working under the Cattle and Sheep Act, or at least some of them, were allocated for this purpose. There are a few smaller items mentioned here—the Flax Act and the Agricultural Wages Act— under which a supplementary sum is also required for the employment of staffs. The Appropriations-in-Aid mentioned are £1,000 which will be contributed by millers under the seed wheat schemes, and there will be £190,000 additional receipts from the sales of butter for export.
Dr. Ryan: The millers who bought Irish wheat in the ordinary way as part of their home-grown wheat quota were asked to put aside the wheat grown by certain farmers, which wheat had been inspected, and they will sell that wheat at a price agreed upon by the Department. Although they may sell that wheat for seed they will not be required to replace it by other home-grown wheat, in spite of the fact that it is to be regarded as part of their quota. At the time when the agreement was made with the millers, Irish wheat was considerably dearer than foreign wheat. The miller would, therefore, have very good profit, because he would be purchasing foreign wheat to replace a dearer wheat that he was able to get rid of again after getting sufficient to cover his expenses. There was a levy charged on each barrel of wheat to make up for the difference. This £1,000 results from that.
Dr. Ryan: There are then additional receipts from sales of butter for export, £190,000; additional receipts from sales of eggs for export, £49,284; and additional receipts from sales of cattle for export, £162,000. There are then the repayments from the Vote for Employment Schemes in respect of the cost of administration, £3,975, which is the sum I already referred to.
Dr. Ryan: That is right. The other appropriation referred to was the fee received in respect of cattle export licences, £12,000, which fee, of course, as Deputies are aware, is the charge on application for licences for export of fat cattle. There is then mentioned the repayments from Dairy Produce (Price Stabilisation) Fund of amounts temporarily advanced to that fund, £200,000. That arises in this way: In the original Estimate we voted £200,000 to the Stabilisation Fund, but we also put down an appropriation of £200,000. Neither took place; we never voted it, and, therefore, could not get the appropriation. There is, therefore, no appropriation of £200,000. Under the Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Act there would ordinarily be an appropriation of £185,000 which does not arise under the original Estimate.
Dr. Ryan: I have not got the details now, but I can give them to the Deputy in a few minutes if he desires them. The Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Act was in full force when the original Estimate was being prepared. All these matters about the supply of cows to Roscrea, the supply of cattle  to Waterford, the supply of free beef and the collection of levies on cattle and so on were in full force at that time, but practically every one of them has been altered in the meantime, giving us a net difference of £185,000.
Dr. Ryan: No. As a matter of fact at the end of the financial year the amount of the outstanding moneys will be less than 10 per cent. We hope eventually so to collect the debt that it will not be more than 4 per cent.
Mr. Dillon: This, at any rate, is a very interesting Estimate. The first part deals with the veterinary college on which the Minister would have been well advised to have expended much more than the few paltry pounds that he did expend. I would like the Minister, between now and the time when he will be preparing the main Estimate, to turn over in his mind whether we should not wipe out this veterinary college altogether and establish in this country the kind of veterinary college that we ought to have. Owing to a series of unfortunate circumstances the Bureau of Agricultural Research which very nearly came to Ireland went to Rome. The result of that is that a great international centre of agricultural information is now located in Rome. The fact really is that Italy does not seem to be an export country at all, in a sense, and the valuable publicity that will be associated with an international association or bureau of that kind will be lost. If that Bureau of Agricultural Research were established here it would be of immense value to our  agricultural community. In addition, it would be a great centre of agricultural learning from which our people would directly benefit.
I now see a chance of establishing something perhaps not so advantageous from the publicity point of view, but something that would be of direct additional advantage to this country —that is a great veterinary college which would become, in time, the finest veterinary college in the world. There is no reason why we should not have such a college here. This country can, and I hope will, remain the headquarters of the horse and cattle breeding industry in the world. It is not our aim to produce the largest number of animals, but it is our aim to produce the best quality. This country has also become the centre for the production of the sporting dog. So that in all sorts of live-stock production, particularly the section associated with the luxury side of trade, this country has a great position. We have all the best materials and we should take advantage of these conditions.
I would like to see built up here an agricultural college on the most modern lines. I would like to see, in addition to the highly efficient staff we already have, endowments founded so as to draw to this country the most distinguished veterinarians in the world. It would surprise Deputies to think how small a sum will attract men of outstanding capacity in the learned professions. It is very difficult to realise that a man at the head of a big joint stock company may get £100,000 per annum as a salary while the most distinguished living scholar looks upon £2,000 a year as a princely reward. If we establish in this country five or six professorships with annual salaries of £2,000 a year I think we could take from the world its most distinguished men who would be free in the sphere of veterinary science to take up a position away from their own country. If we could gather into this country a body of men who would make it a great centre of veterinary learning, I think it would be of immense advantage to the country. I have dwelt on the publicity side of this matter. There is no need  to dwell further on it, though I think the value from an agricultural point of view would be immense.
Take the case of cows which do not breed regularly in this country at the present time. One of the great causes of that irregularity in breeding is contagious abortion. If a specific remedy could be discovered for that bacillus it would save this country an almost unheard of sum per annum. In addition to that recognisable disease there is the catarrhal condition which prevents cows breeding regularly in this country. This is a very simple disease, but it has cost the people of this country, I estimate, about £3,000,000 per annum. That cost is falling almost altogether on the small farmer. What the cost of that disease must be in other countries is a matter that I would hesitate to attempt to estimate. But it would be worth all we could possibly spend on any veterinary institution if we could discover remedies for those two diseases alone, never mind all the other branches of veterinary medicine that might advantageously be investigated. This is a matter to which I have given some thought, and no doubt it is a matter also to which the Minister has given some thought. I do not ask him to give us a considered opinion on these problems to-day, but I do take this opportunity of inviting him to occupy the time between now and his main Estimate in considering whether a substantial sum of money, invested as I suggest, would not be a good investment for the country.
I am reluctant in connection with the sub-head for the purchase of horses to express dissatisfaction with the Horse Commission. But it does seem odd to me that we should be opening. a sub-head authorising the Minister to purchase racehorses. I do not think that breeding racehorses is a business susceptible of too much Government interference at all and I think if it is attempted by the Government they must make a mess of it. The breeding of racehorses is, most essentially, a matter for private enterprise. It is the judgement of the individual in the choosing of yearlings that results in the Blandfords and the other great  sires that have appeared in this country. It is a type of business into which skilful men are induced to go by the immense awards that are sometimes available. It is not like any other farming business. The breeder of racehorses knows that for two or three years he may have to meet heavy losses. It is just his luck if he happens to breed poor stuff. Then, suddenly, in one year he may breed one horse that will bring him a fortune, and in that way he is compensated for the lean years which he expects in the business. That is not the way that Government experiments can be carried on. No Government could undertake risks of that kind. I am aware that we have had here for some time a stud which was controlled by the British Government. I am not at all sure, and never have been sure, that that was a desirable institution. I would much sooner have seen a guarantee given to the big breeders in this country, men like the Aga Khan and others, with large establishments here, that their interests would be very carefully looked after by the Government, and that any facilities the Government could provide them with would be forthcoming. I would then leave this matter of horse breeding in their hands, that is, horses of the racing type. I should prefer to see the Government giving attention to the type of horses bred by the small farmer, troopers, hunters and farm horses. I think there is a great potential market for troopers and an immense one for hunters. If the Minister means to try to help this branch of the trade, I think he will be doing good work. I would, however, urge on him that he should not commit himself in the matter of racehorse breeding, because I do not think he can make any valuable contribution to that branch of the agricultural industry.
I do not understand the Minister's explanation in connection with the oats and barley scheme. He says that he gave a guarantee to the grain buyers that he would take the oats and barley off their hands at a certain date at a certain price. He now proposes to pay compensation to the extent of  £2,145 to the oats and barley buyers for transferring these oats to the millers. I do not know what the ruling prices for oats and barley were at that time. I would like to know from the Minister if the millers, at his suggestion, took over this oats and barley at a fixed price and soaked the maize meal mixture with the cost of that operation, because I suspect that is what happened. I think we ought to know. It is getting quite tedious and boring for Deputies of the House to try and follow the devious operations of the Department of Agriculture, but it is a source of never-ending amazement to those who are intimately concerned with agriculture to discover the astute methods which the Department has devised for soaking the taxpayer in taxes without letting Dáil Eireann know anything about it. The number of adjustments that can be made between levies and payments with a view to extracting taxation out of the consumer, and of passing it on to a beneficiary in the form of a dole or bounty, are so numerous that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of them.
The Minister referred to the change in the agreement with Germany necessitating the purchase of more cattle. What was the change in the agreement with Germany? Some of the more guileless members of the Fianna Fáil Party hear of these trade agreements with Germany with some satisfaction. I wonder do they realise that when we send cattle to Germany we pay the land annuities, not only to Britain, but to Germany as well. The Germans buy cattle here on the Dublin market for about 23/- per cwt., while the price that the Germans would have to pay for the cattle in Denmark, or in countries contiguous to Germany, is 34/- or 35/- per cwt. So that we are actually paying the land annuities to Germany as well as to Britain on all the cattle that are shipped under this German trade agreement. The Minister here is apparently buying cattle and selling them to Germany. Would the Minister give us the average price that he has got from Germany for those cattle up to now? I think we ought to have  that figure. Would the Minister also give the average price that we get from Germany for our eggs and butter? I ask Deputies to read the newspapers. If they do they will find that at the present time the Germans, owing to the policy that they have elected to pursue, are starving themselves for butter, not that there is not plenty of butter if they wanted to buy it, and plenty of people who want to sell butter to them, but owing to the policy that they have embarked on they have determined to suffer the want of butter. These people would be very glad to get butter if they could have it on terms which would fit in with their economy. The astonishing part of it is that they can come over to this country and buy our butter on the terms that there is a willing seller and that they are a willing buyer. We give them butter for half nothing, and we charge our own consumers 5d. a lb. on butter in order to enable the Minister for Agriculture to sell it cheaply to the Germans. The Minister knows as well as I do that when we settle the economic war, if it is ever settled, the devil a pound of butter will we ever sell to Germany again. When the Germans finish their armament programme and all the other codology that they are going on with at present and return to their normal sources of supply, they will not take 6d. worth of butter from us, and the Minister knows that as well as I do.
Mr. Dillon: Does the Minister believe that we are going to get a market from Germany for our butter with Denmark right beside her, comparable with the market which will be available to us in Great Britain?
Mr. Dillon: We are getting the same price in the German market that the Australians are getting for butter in the British market. Is or is it not true that in 1931 our butter had topped Australian butter in the British market, and was steadily getting a securer foothold at a higher price than the Australian butter could command?
Mr. Dillon: My recollection is that our butter had attained or was steadily progressing to a point in which it was competing with the Danish butter, and that it did, on one  occasion, actually pass the Danish butter in the British market.
Mr. Dillon: Well, it did happen once, and the fact is that we are now selling butter in the German market at the same price as they are getting for Australian butter in London. The truth is that we are selling butter more cheaply to Germany than they can get it from Denmark. I say that that is preposterous. Nobody will deny that our butter, quality for quality, is at least as good as, and, in fact, superior, to the Danish butter, and the only reason they have been able to beat us is because of continuity of supply. It is not because of the superior quality of their butter. The trouble with us is that the men who handle Irish butter find themselves in winter without any supply, and so all the people who handle our butter have to handle Danish butter as well. The  people who handle Danish butter do not care whether they handle Irish butter or not because of the lack of continuity of supply, but quality for quality our butter is as good as or better than Danish butter. We are trying to cultivate a market in Germany that will not ever give us the price we would eventually get in the British market if we had continuity of supply and were able to compete on level terms.
Mr. Dillon: No, certainly not. It has nothing to do with it—nothing whatever. I do not think even your own Minister would maintain that. Now, observe what we are doing. We are paying the land annuities to Germany with our cattle, and we are selling them Irish butter at the price of Australian butter. There is only one commodity which, in normal times, we find a great difficulty in disposing of, and that is the matje herring. Would you not imagine that, when the Germans are getting from us animal fats and meat on extraordinarily advantageous terms, they could be induced to go a little out of their way and to take one item which we are really anxious to dispose of, and that is the matje herring? So far, I have been quite unable to extract from the Minister in public any comprehensible statement as to what our position is vis a vis the German Government at the present time in regard to matje herring. I say, however, that we ought now to say to the German Government that either they will take matje herring as part of their purchases from this country, or their trade agreement is of no value to us. If the German buyer never came to the Dublin market again, I would not be sorry to see the last of him, because every beast he takes out of this country he takes at a cut-throat price which does not pay the producer. Under the extraordinary circumstances of the moment, of course, farmers are willing to sell to anybody who will buy, but every beast the German  takes from us, he gets at a price below the cost of production. So far as the butter and egg sales there are concerned, they are worthless to us from an economic point of view. They are simply an emergency exit for stuff accumulating here as a result of the silly and futile quarrel which the Government insist on maintaining with England in financial matters. There is one thing, however, that we ought to be willing to give the Germans, and that is the matje herring. If that were done, and if they would guarantee to take our supply, I would even be willing to support a two-to-one agreement with them against us.
Mr. Dillon: Heaven help us when Deputy Corry thinks he can advise me on points of order. I urge upon the Minister that if this German agreement is to be continued, an absolute sine qua non should be that the Germans are going to take from us all the matje herrings we can produce. They are taking from Great Britain more than, I think, five times the quantity that would absorb our entire output, and the situation has only become critical because, heretofore, they allowed the British to buy our herring and then ship them to Germany. Now they will not allow that any more, and the result is that our fishermen cannot sell their fish at all. That has resulted in a very grave situation for the fishermen in the West and in North Donegal, and I urge on the Minister most strongly to take effective measures to deal with that matter, and that, before we pass from this proposal to raise nearly £500,000 for the cattle, butter and egg exports to Germany, he should tell us that he is going to find in Germany, this April, May and June, a remunerative market for the matje herring that will be then available from our fishermen.
Now, I see that we are going to compensate two gentlemen who contemplated setting up in the canned beef trade and who would not be let do so until the Waterford factory got going. Here we have people who are prepared to go into the canned beef trade without any assistance at all  from the Government, and then the Waterford factory comes along and is established under the patronage of the Government and gets a monopoly of the trade. Not only do they want a complete monopoly of the trade before the factory is set up, but they want the Government to pay compensation to the two firms which are going to be stopped in order to create a monopoly for the Waterford factory. It is bad enough to create a monopoly without charging them anything for it, but if we are going to give them a monopoly of the trade and a present in cash as well, we are coming to a pretty pass indeed. I should like to know from the Minister whether that aspect of the situation has occurred to him.
Sub-section (i) provides for grants for land reclamation, and they will come back under the Appropriation-in-Aid. The Minister talks about reclaiming land in the congested areas. I have put to him and to his colleague, the Minister for Finance, as well as to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, a scheme which, to my mind, would do more good in rural Ireland than any other scheme of land reclamation that has been suggested or attempted so far. Most of the land in this country on the small holdings deteriorates from two causes —or perhaps I should say, they manifest two symptoms of deterioration. One is rushes, and the other is flaggers. Now, the sovereign remedy for both those pests, and for the condition which brings them about, is the creation of good flagged drains. French drains are no good because they get clogged too quickly in the soil on most of our farms, but good flagged drains, followed, in the cases of rushes, by cutting and the application of basic slag will, if persisted in, clear any land of rushes. A sure way of getting rid of flaggers is adequate drainage.
Immense sums of money are being spent on scraping the sides of roads, making bog roads and so forth. Would it not be possible, instead of sending gangers to look after men on the side of a road, to make every small farmer his own taskmaster? Would it not be possible to say to a small farmer: “If you will dig and flag drains on your  own land with a proper level, we are prepared to give you a subsidy of so much per yard on such drains as are properly constructed”? You need no ganger standing over a man who is digging drains on his own land. He will take very good care to do the job well on his own land. You need have nobody urging him to work quickly because he is not going to get paid by the day. He is going to get paid by the amount of work he does and the less time he devotes to the work the less money he will get. If you get every acre of arable land drained on that plan, not only are you going to improve the holding of every small farmer but you are going to get the best possible national return in the improvement of the only natural resource our people have got, the arable land of the country. By expending all the money you can in improving the arable land of the country in that way, you will increase its yield and possibly you will recover in the national income a great deal more than the money you have expended.
Mr. Dillon: I do not think such a scheme as I suggest has ever been tried although I did mention it to the Parliamentary Secretary. I do not know whether he has investigated its possibilities. I know from my own experience that it is a scheme which is peculiarly susceptible to casual labour. Say you are going to make a 12 inch drain. If you open a trench 18 inches wide, the first thing you have to do is to put the flags standing on their edges down the drain on the inside with the intention of putting the flags across subsequently, before you cover in the trench. In 90 cases out of 100 no serious inconvenience will arise by leaving the drain uncovered for a month or even two months. It is highly unlikely that it would cause any serious injury to anything. Therefore, when I determine to dig one main drain, and four tributary drains running into it, it is no serious inconvenience to notify  the responsible person who has to approve of the drain in order that I may qualify for the bounty, and to wait for his visit for three weeks, a month or five weeks. All he need do is to go out, look at it and see that the levels are approximately right, see that there is sufficient width left and that the drain is properly flagged. He would then say to the farmer: “You can proceed to fill in this. I will certify it and you will get the bounty.” That kind of work could be going on, on every small farm in the country. That would be the most valuable form of land reclamation that could be done and in the long run would be the most economical.
Sub-head M has a wide application. I should like to ask the Minister what are the agricultural implements referred to in connection with the item for £6,000. In regard to the additional provision for loans for the purchase of premium bulls I want to sound a note of warning. If the present miscegenation goes on for any length of time there will not be a decent cow left in Ireland. During the year 1933-34, when economic pressure was so keen, an immense number of our best cows and heifers went out of the country because if you wanted to sell a beast at all you had to bring out the best beast you possessed. During that time an immense amount of choice cattle left the country. At present or at least for the last ten years, there has been a steady demand from Scotland for blue bullocks and for black bullocks and there has been a strong demand from parts of England for the white-faced bullock. The result of that has been—and I do urge the Minister to give attention to this problem because it is going to become more acute in future as a result of certain regulations made by the British Department of Agriculture— that any man who had a good Shorthorn cow and whose primary purpose was to get her along to the lactation period, brought that cow to the bull who would produce the most saleable calf. What happened was that occasionally you would get from the cross  of a Shorthorn cow and an Aberdeen-Angus bull or a Hereford bull, which are pure beef breeds, a very good-looking heifer which had all the external appearance of a good Shorthorn. The farmer then, instead of selling that animal to be fattened for the butcher, would be tempted to keep it. His Shorthorn cow was getting old and he got rid of it and he would keep the cross-bred heifer as his foundation cow. The progeny of that heifer would be bad enough but the progeny of her progeny would be infinitely worse. You had in that way a steady deterioration in the cow stocks of the country. Now, it is a comparatively simple thing to sweep away a bull stock which is not giving satisfaction but it is an entirely different matter to change your foundation stock of cows. It would take a generation to improve it because you cannot breed a stock of good cattle on a bad foundation stock. If you allow your cow stock to deteriorate, you are in ten times worse case than if your bulls deteriorate.
I have mentioned that the British Ministry of Agriculture have just passed new regulations in regard to the rates of bounty on fat cattle. They are going to give a bounty of 7/6 on every fat beast reared from a calf that was bred in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. They are going to give 5/- on every grade A beast that was fattened from a calf bred in Saorstát Eireann or outside the United Kingdom. A grade A beast, in 90 cases out of 100, is going to be a beast which is a cross from a Shorthorn and a Hereford or polled Angus bull. There will, therefore, be an immense additional urge on our people to use the polled Angus or Hereford bull from this time on. What I want to point out to the Minister is: can we not try in administering these bounties, loans, and premiums to encourage the people to keep their Dairy Shorthorn bulls? I now warn the Minister that, unless vigorous steps are taken to encourage the people to keep Dairy Shorthorn bulls, the whole foundation stock of this country will be destroyed because there will be no Shorthorn heifers left.
Mr. Dillon: I have delayed the House on a great many matters arising here, and I do not want to go at great length into the details of this sub-head. But what should happen is that if a man wants to breed a calf for sale to the butcher as a fat beast, he should go to a Hereford or an Aberdeen Angus. When he wants to breed a heifer to keep for his own stock, he ought to go to the Shorthorn bull. The difficulty is that there is so much more call for Aberdeen Angus and Hereford bulls that the bull-keepers will not keep Shorthorns, and very often people find that they cannot get Shorthorns.
Mr. Dillon: You will find cranks and brain-cracked people everywhere, and I do not blame the Minister for having a number of agricultural advisers of this type in his Party, but he should not mind them. They are only talking through their hats. In three sub-heads we are providing £6,000 additional for inspectors. Do you remember the great big poster of 1932, with all the Civil Service salaries set out and the list of inspectors and others “living on the money of the poor downtrodden taxpayer?”
The hive in Merrion Street has been swarming and a new hive has been set up and, with every Estimate that comes in here, there are humming about a new flock of bees in the form of inspectors. The Minister is proud of that and bóasts that every day and every week he and his colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, are creating more and more and more  inspectors. That is like the wealth. Do you remember the other boast about more wealth for the people? More money for the people and more and more and more—why should it ever stop? May I paraphrase that and say: “More inspectors for the people and more and more and more —why should it ever stop?” I am amused at the Red Marvel wheat proposal. I wonder if the Minister for Agriculture still thinks that wheat is not a precarious crop in this country, that it is a safer crop than oats or barley and perfectly easy to save. Did he see any of the wheat with blue whiskers going down to the millers of the South and West? Did he hear of any flour coming back to the millers on the ground that the people could not eat it and of the millers stating in reply:
Mr. Dillon: Did the Minister hear that any flour was returned to any mill in Ireland on the ground that the quality was very bad, the mill's reply being “It is the best we can make with the wheat we are getting”? The Minister never heard of that.
Mr. Dillon: I do not think that there can be any doubt this year that the Minister is learning the painful lesson we tried to teach him—that wheat in this country is a highly precarious crop. He is recommending Red Marvel as a spring wheat. I think that people are fools to sow a spring wheat at all. If they are going to  sow wheat they should sow winter wheat. Winter wheat has some chance of maturing and of being harvested early, but, if you have wheat maturing at the end of September, there is a chance that not alone will you not be able to save it properly, but that you will lose the whole crop. I am surprised that the Minister should speak of Red Marvel as a spring variety. Has his attention been directed to a Scandinavian or Norwegian wheat called Diamante? According to experiments carried out in Roscommon, that has proven the best type of spring wheat yet tried in this country for early ripening. Perhaps the Minister would make note of that variety and let us know, in his concluding observations, whether it has been brought to the attention of his seed experts, and, if so, what their opinion is of it as a spring variety for this country. The first desideratum is to get a variety to ripen at all. Under modern conditions, whether the wheat grown be good or bad, the grower will get paid. It is high treason to describe any wheat grown in this country as anything but superior to Manitoba No. 1.
Mr. Dillon: I said that there were some pretty cracked people knocking about. Deputy Allen gives it as his considered judgment that the wheat grown in this country is superior in quality to Manitoba No. 1. Is that correct?
Mr. Dillon: The Deputy's apprehension of order in this House apparently approximates to his understanding of agriculture. Both are extremely defective. I am prepared to leave Deputy Allen's pronunciamento as to the comparative qualities of  Irish wheat and Manitoba No. 1 and his status as an agriculturist to be judged by that statement and that statement alone. If it is put in issue in the company of any competent body of agriculturists, the whole body will be reduced to stitches of laughter.
Mr. Bennett: I disagree with my friend, Deputy Allen, on the merits of the best Manitoba and the best Irish wheat. He said he knew more than Deputy Dillon about wheat. I do not know whether he knows more about it than I do. I am egotist enough to say that I know something about it and I certainly differ with Deputy Allen as to the merits of the two classes of wheat. I think that the consensus of opinion amongst the various judges of wheat in any country would be with me. As regards the problem of agriculture— and it is a problem—as long as we are in our present circumstances, with the growing cost of everything the farmer requires, it is becoming almost impossible for him to meet his liabilities. I do not want to criticise the present Minister for Agriculture. In the very difficult circumstances that exist, I believe he has done his best. As I said before in this House, I do not believe any man in his position, in present circumstances, could solve our difficulties. No Minister for Agriculture could, under present conditions, put the farmers into a position that would be a happy one. I do not know if ordinary Deputies who are not farmers realise the difficult position the unfortunate agriculturist is in, and I propose to deal with that question in a different way from what it has hitherto been dealt with in the Dáil. For the past few years the tendency of the Government has been to build up industries, by intensive help, in the way of  bounties or tariffs. I do not propose to say anything against that but to point out that all that costs money, and that the bulk of the cost falls on the farming community.
What is the primary consideration in setting up a new industry? We proceed on the basis that it is going to be made possible to set up the industry to produce a profit over working costs. Interest on capital will also be provided for. Provision is made by means of bounties or tariffs so that the goods can be sold at a reasonable price, and that it will suffice to pay the workmen a decent wage, because they have unions to regulate that, and then to make a reasonable profit on what is sold. If a man starts a boot factory or some other factory he must know his business and he is provided for as a director or in some other capacity. Eventually a sum has to be found which will pay a dividend of from 10 to 25 per cent. judging by the accounts that some companies have published. I want now to put before the House the position of the farmer, compared with the industrialist. While it is desirable to do all that we are doing for industry, I wish to point out that what is good for one industry is good for another, and that provision must be made for the oldest and the chief industry under somewhat analogous circumstances. I do not say that it is possible to give the farmer the same profits out of his industry as it is possible to give in other industries, but until some attempt is made to do so, it is useless for any of us to be blaming the Minister for Agriculture, for the time being, for the present position. In my opinion no Minister can get agriculture out of the quagmire. While provision is made for establishing industries what happens in relation to agriculture?
I have here figures for the year 1936 dealing with the position on an average farm in the south of Ireland, consisting of 50 Irish acres or about 75 statute acres. I would say that it is worked as well as any farm in this country, and I think the Minister will  agree with me when he hears the figures. On this farm there are 24 dairy cows and some other stock. Assuming that some part of the milk of one cow is consumed in the house, the milk of 23½ cows goes to the factory. I can vouch for these figures as they are the figures that will reach the income-tax authorities. Last year the owner of the farm received £256 9s. 7d, from the creamery for milk. The Minister will admit that a man who got that amount last year for milk was getting a good price, and that he must have been a man who minded his business. I calculate that that milk must have been the produce of cows giving 600 gallons, that they were good cows, and the best the average farmer could have. There were some other profits made from 18 calves which sold at an average of nearly £5 each, which was a pretty good price and shows that they were well cared. Three old cows were sold for £19, and on the whole they sold well. Three cows were bought for £37 10s. The receipts from milk were £256 9s. 7d., and the profits from other items and from cattle £83, or roughly £340 from the working of the farm. On the other side are the wages of permanent labourers and a few casual men at £180. I do not think the wages were very great, but possibly the amount was as much as this man could pay. What I am trying to arrive at is something which will enable farmers to pay a bigger wage.
The rent of the holding was £33 and the rates £34 10s.; feeding stuffs, £15; insurance, £7; chemist's bill, 10/-; repairs, including shoeing, harness and milk tankards, £33, or a total expenditure, including wages, of £306, leaving a profit of £35 or £36. No one can say that the farm was not well worked. There was some tillage—oats, potatoes and mangels—which did not show a profit because it was fed to the cattle. The profit on the farm may be taken at about £40. The question is: Is that really a profit? If I was drawing up accounts for any other industry there would not be a profit in this case, as provision should be made for losses on various articles and for a capital account. I presume the  farmer cannot go into business without capital any more than people can go into any other industry without capital. The farm would have a value and also some of the stock. The farm I am speaking of was value for £3,000 five or six years ago, and I would put down the present value at £2,000.
Mr. Bennett: The Deputy is not the authority on order in this House yet. The day may arrive when he will be. No one will congratulate him more than I will, when he steps into the shoes of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I am putting the value of the stock on the farm at £400 and £150 on machinery. There was £2,500 of the man's capital in it. If agriculture is ever going to survive in this country, there must be some provision made by which the man who puts his money, his work and his ability into it will get some return, that not alone will his farm show a profit but that there will be some return on the capital that he has put into it. If I had magnified that man's profit of £40 into £240 or £340, I would not have been putting agriculture into any privileged position compared with other industries, because it is reasonable to assume that a man will get 5 per cent. on the £2,500 capital he has in it, and which most farmers have in their farms. In addition, the manager of that farm was worth something just as much as the manager of any other industry, but instead of having a return of at least 5 per cent. —and if a man gets 5 per cent. return on his capital and his stock, there would not be much of a grumble in this country—he gets a return the sum total of which is 1 per cent. I do not believe that there are a great many farmers in this country who are getting more than 1 per cent. return on their capital, when you take into account their own labour in the industry.
I think this contribution of mine is about as much as I want to say on this Vote. I have at various times spoken on the different items. Deputy  Dillon has gone into them item by item and I do not propose to go into them again, but I do want to emphasise that the farmers must be placed in a position in some way analogous to that of ordinary industrialists, and there must be some provision made which will make it possible for them, out of their year's work, to provide a decent wage for the labourer who works for them, a decent profit on the things they produce, and a little extra profit to provide some interest on the capital they have invested and some return for their own labour. Up to this, this has not been the case. I do not say that it is the fault of any Government and I am not accusing the present Government alone in that respect. I am going to argue that agriculturists, since the advent of this State, and for a long time before it, have not got the return out of their land that is their due.
Since the new policy of intensive industrial effort has commenced the position has been worsened because while every provision is made for a certain profit for industrialists, while every effort is made by the Government so to arrange circumstances in industry—and by that I mean industry outside agriculture—that there will be a profit for the industrialist, there is no such effort made to provide any decent margin of profit for the farmer. Until something is done on those lines, it is useless for us to criticise the different items in an agricultural Vote. There may be different views on Government policy, as there would be on the policy of any other Government here, but so far as I can voice the opinions of the people who sent me here, I shall, no matter what Minister for Agriculture happens to be here, or what Government happens to be in office, always get up to protest, to fight every corner I can fight, until eventually the farmers of this country wake up and demand and get treatment as near as possible to the treatment given to other industries.
Mr. Corry: It was extremely interesting to listen to Deputy Bennett's figures. I entirely agree with him that the farmer's business should be  placed on as sound a basis as possible, but what would be the position of that farmer with the 24 cows whom he mentioned if Deputy Dillon were Minister for Agriculture for the past two years? Deputy Dillon says that it is a scandal to have the people of this country paying 5d. extra for their butter because we are exporting butter. If Deputy Dillon succeeded in his object in the Division Lobbies a few years ago, what would be the position of that farmer?
Mr. Corry: No, it would not. The £256 which that farmer made from his milk would be reduced to about £90 and he would have £90 for his 24 cows for a year. If a man had to feed cows for £3 a year each, he would have sold his cows long ago. He would have got about 2d. a gallon for his milk.
Mr. Corry: If the Party opposite had had their way with the amendment they brought in, that man would be getting the world price for his butter in England of 70/- a cwt. That would be something like 2d. a gallon for his milk at the creamery, instead of the 4d. and 4½d. he has made to get this sum of £256. That would reduce that amount to £90 for his 24 cows for twelve months.
Mr. Corry: I am just anxious to thrash out this matter of this farmer with the 24 cows and the 50 acres. He made £256 9s. 7d. by reason of the fact that we had a Butter Stabilisation Act here and butter was sold to those terrible Germans at a better price than we could get in England for it. If Deputy Dillon had succeeded, there is another thing that would have happened. That poor farmer would be left with two-thirds of his butter which he could not sell at all and the best thing that would happen to him is that, instead of getting £256 out of 24 cows, he would have got £90. What would have been the result? He would have whipped the danged cows out on the road and let them go. Then you would have no cattle trouble at all, because, without cows, you could not have any calves, and, without calves, you would have no bullocks, so that the whole problem would be solved.
Mr. Corry: It is bad enough to have Deputy Dillon inflicted on this House, but God help the unfortunate farmers of this country if he is ever inflicted on them as Minister for Agriculture. Deputy Dillon's principal argument was about the German market. As a matter of fact the position is that the German market is a better one than the English market for what butter we are selling there. We are getting a better price, and, after all, that is the only thing which need concern us. We are getting a far better price from Germany than we are getting from England. The other matter that Deputy Dillon was anxious about was the premium bulls. The late Minister for Agriculture, God rest his soul, made a statement in this House in regard to premium bulls and this Livestock Act that I will always remember, because he made it after he was put into Opposition, and it was in regard to a  policy which he had carried out for six long years. Here is what he said: “If the Livestock Act is continued in operation as it has been during the past six years, you may get very fine cattle, very fine looking bullocks, but it will be very difficult to get a decent milch cow in this country.” That statement is in the Official Reports for any Deputy who wishes to read it. That was the opinion of the manner in which the Dairy Shorthorn Society and all the rest of the societies were working out in results, and the manner in which bulls were being inspected for licences throughout the country. I consider, Sir, that it is a mistake, and a rather fatal mistake. I do not believe that there is such a thing as a dual purpose animal. A cow is either bred for milk or bred for beef. When the inspectors are going around, the milk yield is never taken into consideration in inspection for licences. All that is taken into consideration in the inspection for licences is the appearance of the animal. Has he fat enough? Has he condition enough? That will undoubtedly lead, and has led, as the late Minister for Agriculture stated, to the position where you will find it very hard to get a decent milch cow in this country. Then we had a statement from Deputy Bennett in regard to wheat. I do not know exactly what is Deputy Bennett's judgment on wheat; I do not know how much wheat he grows down in the County Limerick.
Mr. Corry: So I believe. Deputy-Bennett reminds me of the three gentlemen in Cork who called themselves the Wheat Growers' Association, and went to the Cork Milling Company looking for a better price for wheat. One of the directors of the Cork Milling Company met them. He turned to one gentleman and said: “If I give you your price now, how much wheat will you give me?” The reply was: “Oh, everybody in Cork sends his wheat to you.”“But,” said the director, “how much will you send me?” The answer was: “I do not  grow it at all.” Of course, the second gentleman grew a lot of wheat down in Anglesea Street and, as to the third, bricks and mortar would be more in his line. One grew no wheat at all, the other had an office in Anglesea Street; and the third gentleman was a builder. Deputy Bennett got up here and made a solemn declaration about the quality of wheat. He knew a lot more about it than Deputy Allen, who grows wheat every year.
Mr. Corry: I remember for two years the late Minister for Justice, Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, was crying out for a bad harvest: “Next year we will have a bad harvest.” When the next year came, we heard: “We will surely have a bad harvest next year,” and, the year after that: “We are certain to have a bad harvest next year.” We have Deputies getting up there and speaking about agriculture, and they know no more about it than my own shoe. Deputy Bennett gets up there and solemnly tells us all about Irish wheat. He knew more about wheat than Deputy Allen; then he admits that he never grew a grain of wheat at all. Then Deputy Dillon gets up and begins to talk about the wheat with blue whiskers that was going into the merchants. But he tells us he grew none either. That is what is wrong. For heaven's sake leave farming to farmers.
Deputy Dillon comes in here and switches on to industry. Just in order  to have a cheap sneer at the industrial side of the Fianna Fáil programme, he condemns the canned meat factory in Waterford. I wonder did he consult Deputy Richard Holohan? I am sure, if he spent half an hour with Deputy Holohan before he came in here to condemn the Waterford canned meat factory, he would not be so glib in his statements about it. I am sure, too, that if he consulted ex-Deputy Denis Gorey, the late leader of the Farmers' Party, he would not have come in here with those statements in regard to things he knows nothing about, in order to have a cheap sneer, in the hope that nobody would call his bluff. We are sick of that kind of thing. For heaven's sake try and be sensible for once. We have had one and a half hours of the time of this Dáil occupied here with the most nonsensical trash ever dished out. I do not wish to delay the House further than to refute those two most nonsensical statements—Deputy Dillon's statement about butter and wheat, and his statement about the canned meat factory. I hope Deputy Holohan will meet them, and deal with them as they deserve.
Mr. O'Donovan: I have listened to practically all of the speech made by Deputy Corry on the Estimate before us, but I did not hear him boasting about the wealth of the agricultural community as he has done on previous occasions. His whole speech was an attempt to refute statements made by Deputy Dillon and Deputy Bennett. I do not think he has succeeded. I do not think he expected to succeed; I think his object was to kill time and attempt to bolster up statements which he has made here before. I want to go back to the Estimate. In viewing it, I see that seven or eight items refer to the salaries and expenses of additional staffs. Deputy Corry, in his election campaign before Fianna Fáil came into office, said that these would not be increased. There was no necessity to increase them; they would carry on the work of this country much better than it had been done before, without any increased staffs or any increase in taxation in any shape or form. I think the items here  amount to between £10,000 and £11,000 for increased salaries and expenses of staffs. While the first item—Veterinary College—Provision for additional staff, is absolutely necessary, I hope that that staff will be sufficiently augmented to carry out the research work that is necessary for the Department of Agriculture in this country. I wish to reiterate what Deputy Dillon has said. No matter what is the cost of getting the best men, the best men ought to be got to carry out this research work.
I would specially like to refer to one item under the Flax Act, 1936. The additional staff required necessitates an increase in the Vote by £876. I take it that money is going to the staff. I wonder what the staff is doing now. Flax scutching is almost completed by this time in the Free State. I wonder if in this particular item there could be an additional sum provided for research work. That is to say, for the carrying out of experiments in growing flax seed, and in fact for the development or propagation of the best kind of flax. If that were started we might find ourselves in the course of a year or two with a sufficient quantity of flax seed to meet all the requirements of the growers here. I am sorry there is no provision in the Estimate for this work. The main Estimate will be introduced later, but then it will be too late to make arrangements for the carrying out of a matter of that sort. If the staffs are to be engaged and the work is to be done it is the duty of the Minister and the Department to see that work is provided for them and that they will give full value for the money.
Another item here to which I wish to refer is the sub-head for the improvement of live stock, for the purchase of thoroughbred stallions. Now I understand that it is impossible at the moment to get thoroughbred stallions. I know people who have made application for them to the Department of Agriculture and they have been unable to get them. I do not quite understand that item when I know that thoroughbred stallions are not available. With regard to this item of grants to county committees  of agriculture, I have reason to know that some grants or subsidies were given for lime or sand. Owing to the inclement weather we have had for the past two months, it was impossible to secure the sand. The people are obliged to go out and dredge the sand and bring it in. I understand the subsidy will not be available after the 1st February according to the Department's regulations. It would be well, if possible, to extend the period for another month so as to give those people an opprtunity of getting in the sand. That would be specially helpful in the case of wheat-growers. These require sea sand for their wheat tillage, and if the time were extended it would be a step in the right direction.
There is a sub-head for agricultural societies and shows, including Miscellaneous Grants-in-Aid. There are no shows mentioned but I take it it means the Royal Dublin Society and the Cork show. Might I point out that there are very important shows held throughout the Free State outside the Dublin and Cork shows. If any money is available for having the Department's educational exhibit shown at these provincial shows it would be money well spent. People who cannot attend the Dublin or Cork shows, attend the local shows. They should get an opportunity of enjoying the educational advantage which the Department's exhibits would confer on them. I hope the Minister will consider having the Department's exhibits shown in future at the provincial shows.
It is rather difficult to find what the opinion of the Fianna Fáil Party is with regard to agriculture. The only speaker of that Party, outside the Minister, in the course of this debate, was Deputy Corry. His contribution was not very helpful to agriculture. If we had an enlightened statement from a back-bencher on the Government side, it would, I believe, be very helpful to the agricultural community.
Mr. McGovern: I endorse what has been said by Deputy Dillon and the other Deputies who have spoken on this Vote and in what I have to add I propose to confine myself to a  couple of small matters. In the County Cavan there is a fairly general complaint that the quality of the seed oats available last year was not up to a good standard. I think the Minister was asked to receive a deputation on this matter. The farmers of Cavan are anxious to get some Scotch seed oats as a change. The experience of these farmers after a great many years is that they would benefit by an occasional change of Scotch seed oats. They know after long years' experience the beneficial effect of such a change of seed. The answer of the Minister generally is that we have as good oats in our own country as there is in Scotland. I am not going to dispute that point at all and neither am I going to give a personal opinion on the merits of Scotch as against Irish seed. But a great number of the farmers of Cavan who have given the matter thought have come to the conclusion that Scotch seed is an improvement on Irish seed. I know that while Irish seed may be as good as Scotch seed I have personal experience that Irish seed supplied in the County Cavan some years ago was of very inferior quality and some of it was not fit to be sold. I think the Minister would be well advised in allowing a small quantity of oats to be imported free of duty so as to improve the seed. The corn grown from that seed this coming year would be sold by the growers to their neighbours for next year's oat seedlings. Every experienced farmer is convinced that the importation of Scotch oat seed would be helpful to growers. In such circumstances the Minister might allow a quantity of this oats to be imported free of duty for seed purposes.
There was a matter raised by Deputy Dillon which is the most important matter in the agricultural industry just now. I refer to the infertility of cows, or what is called contagious abortion, or whatever else the name of it may be. I do not know really that it is contagious abortion. I believe it is due to sterility in the bulls, or that an insufficient number of bulls is licensed by the Department.  I believe that these pedigree bulls are not able to serve 20 per cent. of the number of cows that the old cross-bred bulls served successfully. I notice that the more highly the animals are bred the smaller the number of cows they serve. For that reason I believe that the Minister would be well advised in directing his judges at the local shows to license a large number of bulls than they have been licensing hitherto.
In the meantime there should be some research work done so as to discover a cure for this disease. It is impossible at present to say what causes it. I know that the farmers of the country as a whole are suffering huge losses because of contagious abortion in their cattle. I believe that loss runs into millions. The dairy farmers are suffering most keenly, for in many cases they are not only left without cows and milk for the year, but they suffer heavy losses in disposing at what might be called throwaway prices of cows that have aborted. The poorer farmers are specially hard hit in this way, because they are not able to hold on to their cows until the following year. They are glad to get 50/- for some fairly good young cows, and that is all because of this disease. I would suggest to the Minister that he should inquire into the matter. Perhaps he would think it well to license more bulls.
Deputy Dillon referred to the trade agreement with Germany. It is a very good thing, of course, to trade with all the countries that we can, and to do so on the best possible terms that we can get. At the same time, trading on a 1-2 basis with Germany is not of very great advantage to this country. It means a double advantage to Germany when we have to sell our agricultural produce to her at the same price that we sell it to Great Britain, subject to the tariffs. Now that the Government are in communication with Great Britain with a view to renewing the arrangement for trade for the coming year, would it not be well if they could also arrange with her to take from us the extra stuff that we are sending to Germany and  other countries? There is no question but that Great Britain is able to buy more stuff than we have to sell. If she were to take the extra stuff that we have to sell in return for what we have to buy from other countries, it would be of great advange to us. I do not know, for instance, the quantity of manufactured articles that we take from Germany, but I believe these could be supplied just as well by Britain if we could get Britain to take the extra stuff that Germany is taking from us. It would be to our advantage to do so. It would be better for us to get on a pound for pound basis rather than be carrying on as we are at present on the 1-2 basis.
We have to admit, of course, that Britain is collecting all the disputed moneys on the limited amount of our produce that she is taking from us, so that whatever extra produce she took under the arrangement I suggest would carry no tariff. We would be getting full value for it, and that would help to lighten the burden that we are bearing at present. Therefore, there would be a double advantage in dealing with Britain by a trade arrangement on the lines I suggest.
I do not think that I have anything more to say on this Estimate. It would be useless for me to go into the general question of the agricultural industry. I do not think that we are likely to make any impression on the Minister's policy, but I do hope that he will give attention to the matters that I have called his attention to. If he agrees to do, the results may be of some use to the agricultural community.
Mr. Holohan: Like previous speakers, I desire to refer to disease amongst cows, and the numbers of them that farmers, to their great loss, find are not in calf. I do not know whether that is due to abortion or what is the cause of it, but at any rate there is something seriously wrong. It is a matter that calls for special attention from the veterinary branch of the Department. I would ask the Minister to give special attention to it during the spring and next summer. During last  year and the year before there were little signs of this disease to be seen in the locality where I live. After ten weeks or so cows that were thought to be in calf were found not to be in calf. In five or six months' time we knew exactly what the position was, but we are not able to say whether it is abortion, or indeed what it is, that has got into the herds. Farmers do not know how to treat the disease properly. Instructions for its treatment are given in leaflets issued by the Department, but in order to apply the remedies suggested it would be necessary for farmers to bring veterinary surgeons to their places. Farmers, unfortunately, are not in a position at the moment to pay veterinary surgeons. Therefore, I think the Department should make a bigger effort in sending around more of their own staff to see if something cannot be done to prevent the spread of this disease. About nine or ten years ago I saw something like this disease in our locality. At that time I had about 30 cows, and Deputies can realise the losses which the spread of the disease could cause me and my neighbours who also keep a good many cows. The loss of a cow and calf every year in a big herd is a very big item.
I would also ask the Minister to give his attention to the amount of money allocated for premiums for bulls. I think he should be a little more generous in the amount of the premiums given to people who keep bulls of the shorthorn breed so that there will be plenty of heifers to keep up the standard of dairying in the country. During the last couple of years we have been short of heifers of the shorthorn breed. The number of calves that were killed has left us short, but of course it could be seen from the beginning that that was going to be the outcome of that policy. There is a big demand from other countries as well for heifers, so that I hope the Minister will do something by way of increasing the premiums for the shorthorn breed of cattle.
As regards the horse-breeding  industry, we have probably a sufficient number of sires throughout the country, but I think they are not up to the standard of 20 or 25 years ago. The thoroughbred sires that we have all over the country can to an extent be availed of by farmers, but I do not propose to deal with that aspect of the industry. What I would like to see is that sires calculated to produce hunters would be up to a higher standard than they are. If the Minister would agree to give some help to farmers so as to make it easy for them to purchase a better class of sire, he would, I think, be conferring a great benefit on the industry. I am one of the directors of the Waterford meat factory. We have had the canned meat business going on there now. I do not know what price the Minister paid for the cattle that were sent there, but so far as we are concerned we have done our best to try and dispose of the stuff. I think we will be able to make the business pay for itself this year. In the first year that it was started we were not able to do that. We hope to do better this year. There is an item of £400 for the factory in the Estimate. I would like to hear from the Minister what exactly it is for. Now, with regard to this item about the compensation paid to canned beef manufacturers. Does that mean the factory in Waterford?
Dr. Ryan: I think, Sir, it would be for me to answer the last Deputy's question first. I had hoped to get names submitted for the various committees by the 1st of February, and for that purpose I sent circulars to county committees and Deputies asking them to submit names. Two or three days ago, however, I was told that some of the counties are not covered for the moment. However, these names will be in some time in the near future, and then we will be in a position to nominate the committees and boards. Even after that, however, it will be about two months before the Act will be operative, but I still hope that it will be operative before the 1st of May.
Now, first of all, with regard to the question of stallions, which was raised during the debate, I should like to explain that I am not any more in favour of developing the horse racing industry than of developing the hunter or trooper industry. We have, however, an Estimate from year to year for the provision of loans and subsidies for the purchase of stallions of the ordinary hunter and trooper class, but up to this year we have not had an Estimate for the purchase of stallions of the racing type, and that is why this title had to be introduced in order that we might be able to buy that type of stallion. As a result of the recommendations of the Commission, we also intend to improve the other strains of stallion and to give more encouragement in the way of finance. I think Deputies will find, when the annual Estimates are circulated, that we are proposing to the Dáil to provide a much larger sum for that purpose in future. So that we hope we may succeed in getting a better type of stallion and in getting a bigger number, if possible, also. I agree with the Deputy who has just spoken that it is almost impossible to get them at all at the moment.
Dr. Ryan: We asked the commission to inquire into that question also,  and I think I am stating their views correctly when I say that they thought the Department's regulations too rigid on that question. The Department had only allowed the registration of Clydesdale stallions in certain districts, principally from Dublin up to Louth and Monaghan and about ten miles around Cork. As a result of the recommendations of the commission, we have relaxed that regulation and have agreed to register the Clydesdale or Shire stallion in part of County Meath and County Offaly at any rate.
Dr. Ryan: Personally, I do not feel too happy about it, but I do not feel that I know as much about the horse-breeding industry as the people who sat on that commission and the officers in the Department. However, we will see how the experiment works. Now, with regard to bulls, I would assure Deputy Dillon and others that every encouragement is given to the dairy type of bull. The amounts voted under the various heads— premium bulls, special loans for congested districts, and so on—in all these schemes we favour the dairy bull, whether the Shorthorn or Kerry, and as far as the Department of Agriculture is concerned in this expenditure of this money, they do not favour in any way the encouragement of the beef classes. There may be something in what Deputy Dillon says, but not so much, I think, outside the West of Ireland, perhaps. However, outside the West of Ireland, I think, people are more inclined to breed for milk than for beef. As far as I know, in Munster and most parts of Leinster, the milk strain is looked on as more important than the beef strain.
Now, with regard to the questions that were raised as to the trade with Germany, I stated that the price we are receiving for butter in the German market is fixed by the highest Australian price in London. It is true, as Deputy Dillon says, that we have succeeded here for some time in getting an average higher price for our butter than Australia gets in Great Britain, but I think if you take  the top Australian price in London as an average price for our butter in Germany, we will be doing very well, and I think that if there were no economic war or no interference with our trade with Great Britain, we could carry on that trade and carry it on at a profit—a very slight profit, of course, but at some profit at any rate. With regard to the cattle for Germany, the price there varies, but at any rate we are in the position that we can instruct the buyers to try at all times in the Dublin market to go a little bit higher than the other buyers are inclined to go, and, in that way try to get prices as firm as possible. I think the fact that we have bought, say, 300 or 400 cattle in the Dublin market has a good effect in keeping prices up and, in addition to that, we have carried on this trade in cattle with Germany as a profitable enterprise.
Dr. Ryan: I do not know. Perhaps the Deputy could reason it out that way, but I am not inclined to agree with him. Now, with regard to the Red Marvel wheat, Deputy Dillon asked why we confined ourselves to Red Marvel wheat. The reason is that it is a crop that is more generally grown as a spring crop than any other in this country, and in a scheme like this, where we are merely providing a supply of commercial wheat, we thought it better to keep to a strain that had been tried and found generally satisfactory. It is quite possible that in time we may find other spring varieties more satisfactory, and experiments are being carried out on various breeds and strains of spring varieties to see if we may be able to get a more suitable variety. For instance, one variety which is grown very generally in Canada and other places, and which is commercially known as Manitoba wheat, has been tried here and has been found to be very successful on certain farms, but it appears to require good land. However, it comes in quickly, and if sown on the same day as Red Marvel it is  almost certain to be ready a couple of weeks beforehand, which is certainly desirable. However, whether the fact that it comes in more quickly outweighs its possible disadvantages, such as proneness to disease and so on, is a matter for consideration.
Dr. Ryan: I could not say off-hand, but I think the Deputy may take it that none of these strains has escaped Professor Caffrey and his staff in Glasnevin, and of course, as time goes on and he tries them through the county committees, we will be able to decide which is the most suitable strain. Possibly, it is from Glasnevin that they came to the Roscommon committee to be tried. There was certainly a loss in wheat here last year in certain parts. Certain crops failed. Certain crops of wheat were unmillable, but the same would apply to a certain part of our barley crop and our oats crop. We had big failures in turnips. We always have in this country failures in turnips, and there may be failures in any crop a farmer may try. I do not think at all, however, that the percentage of failure in the wheat crop was anything more than the percentage would be in any other crop. Certainly I would say that probably no country whatever has uniform stocks. Take America, Australia and the big wheat-growing countries. They have catastrophic failures during some years such as we do not ever have.
Dr. Ryan: That is a very unscientific description. The Deputy asked me about the Flax Act and the staffs. There is one supervisory inspector, three inspectors and three temporary inspectors. In addition there is a scheme for the training of scutching apprentices. I do not know, however, if any of these men would have any time to carry out the research in flax-growing which Deputy O'Donovan has mentioned. Deputy O'Donovan has  some experience of the work of the Department's inspectors in this respect, and he knows that if such is possible it will be done. Deputy O'Donovan also went to the trouble of adding up the amount provided in this Supplementary Estimate for additional staffs. He states that the cost is between £10,000 and £11,000. I assume his figure is correct, but you will notice that in this Supplementary Estimate I have asked for £439,092, but it is stated that there are savings amounting to £439,082. One item in these Estimates is a saving of £16,000 on staffs under the Cattle and Sheep Act, so that there is not an aggregate increase in the expenditure on staffs. Under the rules which are observed here, however, I have to come to the Dáil for the increased expenditure required for any staff under any new service or Act. That is not an aggregate increase.
Deputy McGovern asked about seed for Cavan. There is being provided under the portion of the Relief Vote that is administered by my Department out of the Unemployment Fund, a certain amount for seed. That is a cheap seed scheme, not a free seed scheme. The seed is given in small quantities to small holders at a reduced rate. Part of the County Cavan, West Cavan, comes into that scheme so that there will be a certain amount of seed oats and seed potatoes distributed in that part of the county.
Dr. Ryan: So far, at any rate, we have depended entirely on Irish grown oats for our seed. It is believed in the Department by the inspectors and the technical men concerned, that the seed from Donegal—perhaps from some other places too, but especially from Donegal—is as good as any imported from Scotland.
Dr. Ryan: I think from any experiments that we carried out—and we have carried out experiments on small farms and otherwise on alternative plots with the various seeds—that we can prove, and we are glad of course to find, that the seed which is supplied by the Donegal farmers is just as good as what was known as imported seed.
Dr. Ryan: Personally I do not agree with the Deputy. We come now to the question of contagious abortion and sterility in cows. So far as the opinion of our veterinary staffs goes, they do not look upon them as the same disease. Contagious abortion is a forerunner of sterility. They are not the same disease but one is caused by the other. We have not succeeded, nor has any other country either, in finding a ready remedy for this trouble. Some two or three years ago the veterinary surgeons working in the research laboratory at Thorndale did a survey of certain parts of the country and it was found that contagious abortion was a real trouble in the country. I think they found that few herds were free from it. A number of our herds were fairly badly affected. It is all right carrying out a survey to find out the incidence of the disease, but in the research laboratory here, they have been carrying out experiments and trying out various remedies and they have not yet found an easy remedy for this trouble. If we had a sure and certain remedy, I think Deputies may take it that the Department would lose no time in making that remedy known and in giving whatever assistance might be necessary. When Deputy Holohan said that the Department is not sufficiently helpful, he ought to remember that perhaps the veterinary staff have not that confidence in these remedies which would make them so enthusiastic in their help.
Mr. Dillon: Before the Minister leaves that question, may I ask if his attention has been directed to the fact  that a great deal of the temporary sterility of cattle is due to catarrh or vaginitis which is not contagious abortion. There is a Danish remedy for that.
Dr. Ryan: That is quite right. Again I do not like to speak dogmatically on these subjects, not having the knowledge that a person who so speaks should have, but as far as I can learn from the veterinary profession there is a cure for that, but I am afraid the treatment must be always carried out by a veterinary surgeon.
Dr. Ryan: A farmer may know his cattle are affected but he does not know whether it is contagious abortion or sterility. He must really get a veterinary surgeon to tell him. I think the only solution for a farmer who wants to improve his herd in any way is to take the advice of a veterinary surgeon and to allow the veterinary surgeon to give whatever treatment he thinks fit. I do not think there is any other way of dealing with it at the moment. Continuous research in this and other countries may give us a vaccine. It is the sort of disease which should be improved by a vaccine, but so far we have not got that vaccine.
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