Wednesday, 27 April 1955
Dáil Éireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £4,937,260 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Agriculture, including certain Services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain subsidies and sundry Grants-in-Aid.
The House will observe that a motion has been set down to refer back this Estimate. That is a motion which I welcome, because I think it gives us a somewhat wider scope for our discussion and permits of general questions of policy being raised and discussed which otherwise would not be accessible to us. I, therefore, propose in my introductory remarks to look at certain questions of broad policy in order that I may have the benefit of views of Deputies upon them.
 Firstly, I would like to say categorically that I grow a little weary of the people who consider themselves qualified and called upon to tell every Minister for Agriculture, whatever Party he belongs to, what should not be done. What I long to hear from the critics is what they think ought to be done.
It has become a popular pastime with certain elements of our community to promulgate the proposition that stagnation characterises the agricultural industry of this country. The implication of that kind of talk is that the farmers are constitutionally lazy and that the Irish Department of Agriculture is no damn good. Both propositions are false, as I hope to demonstrate conclusively in introducing this Estimate.
We have in this country an annual average rainfall of approximately 40 to 42 inches. That is an inescapable fact and if we face it and welcome it and mould our agricultural policy to use it. we can realise that it is a great blessing that many other countries covet but do not enjoy. There is no use people blandly comparing our system of agriculture—which is conditioned by that annual rainfall of 40 to 42 inches—with the system obtaining in countries where the average annual rainfall is in the order of 21 inches and repeating the parrot cry: “Why don't you do in Ireland what they do elsewhere?” The answer is: “Because our conditions are fundamentally different and because we know how to use our own land according to our own methods and the circumstances which surround them.”
One of those circumstances appears to me to be of dominant importance, that is, that we have at our door a virtually inexhaustible market for live stock and live-stock products which for veterinary reasons no other country in the world has access to on the same terms as we enjoy. If we fail to exploit that advantage to the limit of our capacity, I think we are guilty of supreme folly. That we should seek every other outlet is also certain, but it would be great folly to ignore the proximate and readily accessible market, in the search for the more remote and competitive markets that may exist elsewhere.
 Those of us who are concerned to consider agricultural policy should bear this also in mind. It is not only the farmers who depend on the capacity of our farmers to export profitably: everybody in this country, whether he lives in town, city or country, depends in the last analysis for his standard of living on the capacity of our farmers to export profitably.
It is no harm to emphasise again that if a situation ever arises in which our farmers are unable to export profitably, the first people who will feel the blast of adversity are the industrial and distributive workers of this country for whose employment the importation of raw materials is essential. Let us remember that the raw materials of every industrial process in this country that have to be imported are paid for, as to over 80 per cent., by agricultural exports. If the export of agricultural produce ceases to pay & profit to the farmers, exports of agricultural produce will stop. If that should ever happen, the farmer can have recourse to his traditional remedy—a return to subsistence farming. He goes back, at least, to a home where he will find eggs, milk, oatmeal and the essentials for maintaining existence. The industrial and the distributive worker, however, who depend for their employment on the availability of raw materials, once that supply ceases for the want of capacity to pay for them, have nothing to go home to but the dole or the search for accommodation on an emigrant ship to seek employment elsewhere that is no longer available to them in Ireland.
The operative word in all I have said up to now is “profitably”. I would invite Deputies to note that we have before us an example of what happens when a particular branch of agriculture becomes unprofitable to the producer: I refer to eggs. We had vast exports of eggs so long as the price obtainable for them yielded a profit to the producer. When the price available for eggs fell below the level at which the producer could earn a profit on them, the export of eggs virtually melted away. I think I can show the House that where, under the terms of  the 1948 Trade Agreement, we were able to establish the principle of the rigid link between prices payable in Great Britain for British live stock and prices payable in Great Britain for Irish live stock, thus preserving the profitability of exports of live stock, we have had a dramatic expansion, unrivallsd in Europe, in that branch of agriculture; that it is on that expansion that the economic life of this country at the present moment depends and that, but for it, we would be confronted to-day with an economic crisis of the first magnitude.
Before I turn to the figures to demonstrate the truth of that proposition, I want to direct the attention of Deputies on all sides of the House to this inescapable fact: it may not be popular but it is the truth and so long as I am Minister for Agriculture I will tell the farmers of this country the truth because they are entitled to hear it from me, and I must abide the consequences of discharging my duty in telling it to them. We are rapidly passing out of a sellers' market, to which we have become familiar in the past 16 years. The time of world scarcities has gone and the theme at international congresses, wherever they are held, is to-day not an increase of production to meet urgent and clamant needs but the marketing of surpluses to avoid hopeless disruption of world markets. In that situation, we still enjoy great advantages if we have the prudence to exploit them—and here is the unpopular fact that must be faced.
If we are going to grasp our share of the available world market, the objective we must set before ourselves is to reduce our own costs of production. If we do not, once we have arrived at the point of saturating the domestic capacity to consume—and we have arrived at that point—we have to face the fact that all increased production must be undertaken on terms which will enable us to earn a profit in the export markets available to us.
I invite the House to survey the international market for agricultural produce at the present moment. We have priced ourselves out of the market for eggs. We have priced ourselves  out of the market for butter. We have priced ourselves out of the market for cheese. We are in grave danger of pricing ourselves out of the market for bacon. There remains to us cattle, beef, sheep and mutton. The desperate danger is that we should not face in time the fact that unless we retain our competitive position in these commodities we might unconsciously stumble into catastrophe. I am as certain as I am standing here that, by the exercise of common prudence, we have available to us an unlimited market for cattle, sheep, pigs and butter.
It will be a great catastrophe if all those interested in agriculture, no matter on what side of this House they sit, will not combine in persuading our farmers to do what is eminently possible—to march out and capture their share of that market; to take the lid off potential production and expand production indefinitely—for it is through increased production that we can raise the standard of living of our people and, what is infinitely more important, enable them to stay in their own country and earn their living working for their own people.
Let there be no illusion about it. The ability of this or any other Government to provide employment for our people in their own country depends on whether the farmers are prepared to undertake the maximum production of which the land of Ireland is capable, at a cost which will leave them a fair margin of profit when they sell their produce at the best prices available in the world to-day. Do not let us embark upon that project with any inferiority complex. At the present moment, Irish butter is earning a premium on quality above any other butter going into the British market. We are getting more on a free market in competition with all comers because the people want our butter. If that butter were being exported, on a basis which earned a profit for this country, and we could all really put our backs into expanding the volume of that production indefinitely, in the knowledge that every extra pound produced  earned more profit for the man who produced it and for the nation to which he belonged, and we had before us the prospect of expanding indefinitely the numbers of our live stock, I do not think any of us would need to fear the future.
I earnestly hope that we may get from all sides of the House the cooperation that is necessary to persuade our farmers of the truth of these vast potentialities and to induce our farmers to believe that the Oireachtas and everybody else appreciates that the future of our people and the nation is dependent on the measure of the farmers' effort to get from the land of Ireland for himself and his family the best living that land is capable of yielding, always provided that he leaves his land in autumn a little better than he foond it in the spring.
Now let me turn for a moment to lay before the House the picture of what happens when you procure for the farmers of Ireland a market in which they can sell their produce at a price which leaves them a fair margin of profit. I want to compare the year 1948 with the year 1954, so that I may compare the circumstances that obtained before there was a guaranteed market at a fair price for our cattle and the situation that obtained after our farmers had known six years of such security. I know that some Fianna Fáil controversialists say that it is unfair to quote figures relating to 1947 or 1948 because they were very wet years.
Mr. Dillon: I am too old a hand to be induced to break the thread of my discourse by that type of interruption. Fianna Fáil like to say that it is not fair to speak of 1947 for the purposes of comparison with other years because it was a very wet year. Wetness  does not affect the fecundity of a cow; wetness does not prevent a ewe from having a lamb. I am going to talk of live stock. In June, 1948, the total number of cattle in this country was 3,920,922; in June, 1954, the total number of cattle in this country was 4,504,026.
Mr. Dillon: Certainly. Will the Deputy, in his kindly and customary courtesy, allow me to make my introductory remarks, with the assurance that any matter he chooses to raise I will consider it my duty to deal with exhaustively when I conclude——
Mr. Dillon: ——weeks and weeks from now, if I know anything of the Fianna Fáil Party? Incidentally, I have already anpplied the Deputy and every other Deputy of his Party with a White Paper giving a good deal of statistical material and information with which to divert himself while I am talking, 80 that he may prepare his ballistics when it comes to his turn to move his motion to refer back.
To return to the theme I was developing, the total number of cattle in this country in 1948 was 3,920,922 and in June, 1954, it had risen to 4,504,026. The number of cattle under one year—a very significant figure for future production—rose from 852,725 to 1,030,662.
Mr. Dillon: The increase in national wealth signified by the increase in the total number of cattle is equivalent in terms of current values to over £20,000,000. Sheep and lambs increased from 2,057,717 in 1948 to 3,112,842 in 1954, representing in terms of current values an addition of about £7,000,000 sterling to the nation's capital. The number of pigs jumped from 457,065 in 1948 to 958,321 in 1954. If we take the total value of the increase in the numbers of sheep, lambs, cattle and  pigs between 1948 and 1954, it amounts to approximately £32,000,000 sterling on the basis of current values.
All these figures are, in themselves, significant, but when they are read side by side with the figures for our exports of these commodities and when I direct the attention of the House to the fact that, throughout the period in which this great growth in the stock upon the land was taking place, our exports were steadily rising, too, the House will realise how dynamic an effort has been made by the farmers in circumstances which allowed them to earn profits on the work they were called upon to do. In 1948, the total exports of live cattle, plus the live cattle equivalent in carcase beef and canned beef, numbered 405,000 head, and, in 1954, the corresponding figure was 834,490, an increase of over 100 per cent.
Will Deputies sympathise with me if I find myself getting a bit hot under the collar when I am told by well-intentioned observers that the agricultural industry is stagnant? Is there any country in the whole civilised world that can claim to have increased its live stock exports by 100 per cent., while at the same time substantially increasing the foundation stock retained upon the land? Sheep and lambs, plus the live equivalent of exported carcase mutton, rose from less than 60,000 head in 1948 to over 330,000 head in 1954, an increase of over 400 per cent.
Deputies will remember that one of the stock gibes was that if you referred to exports in terms of money everybody would say: “Ah, I remember Deputy Childers used to be very voluble on the subject”. He said: “Let us talk of volume”.
Mr. Dillon: How dearly we love 1939! I am talking of the year in which Fianna Fáil handed over this country to me with fewer cattle, fewer sheep, fewer pigs, than at any time in recorded history since the famine. That Party handed over this country with 12,000,000 acres of arable land in a greater degree of physical destitution than was ever recorded since the Normans landed here. That is the position from which we had to start. That is the old game. Deputy Flynn asked me to-day what happened to his scheme for tomato houses in Cahirciveen. It is another bequest from Fianna Fáil, but the sovereign bequest that this Government got from Fianna Fáil was the agricultural industry in the lowest slough of despond to which it ever descended in recorded time. That is what we were handed over in February, 1948, and that is what we set out to remedy. Here is what we did.
Mr. Dillon: I give Deputy Walsh this credit, and damned little credit he is entitled to, while he was in office he did not dare to abandon one single project that I put in hands. I might have to tell the House, if he challenges me, how hard he tried to get rid of some of them, and how narrowly we escaped the destruction of some of them by our timely return to office. I have got the files here.
Mr. Dillon: You can produce any figures you like. The Deputy has a  dispatch case in front of him a foot thick, and I feel sure that I will hear plenty from him this evening. I am giving him a lead which he can follow later on. He can take 1931, 1932, 1933 or 1934, when cattle were selling in this country at £4 15s. apiece for four year old bullocks. I can tell the whole story from the day the blight of Fianna Fáil fell on this country to the day when we swept it finally away. I will take any year on any terms affecting any branch of agriculture, and make a hare of them in any county in Ireland. Let us return to this interesting statistical material. Exports of bacon and pork, combined, jumped from nothing——
Mr. Dillon: Adjustments my foot. Every pound of bacon, every stone of pork which was sold in this country from June, 1951, down to to-day, has been sold under the terms of this agreement negotiated by Deputy MacBride and myself in June, 1951. There is not a creature who can deny that, and that agreement is coming to an end next year.
Mr. Dillon: And that is something which may well be borne in mind when  we are considering expanding agricultural production in the new world where competitive conditions are much more stringent than they used to be. I will return from figures relative to volume to figures relative to value. The total value of all items which I have mentioned in terms of volume in 1948 was £16,031,589, and the corresponding figure for 1954 was £53,931,284, an increase of £37,899,695. If that is not an increase of more than 100 per cent. in value my mathematics is wrong. I agree that value unsupported by volume can be illusory but volume unsupported by value can be catastrophic. There is not the least use in shipping ever-increasing quantities of agricultural produce abroad if you have to pay the foreigner to eat your production. The reason for shipping agricultural produce abroad is to make the foreigner pay for the chance of eating your output. When we start talking of the balance of trade, we have got to remember that the balance of trade ia expressed not only in terms of volume but in terms of cash. Our problem is to pay for the goods we want to bring in. There is no use offering a dozen hams to a man from whom you want to buy an electric motor. He may not want a dozen hams and you may be a long time waiting for an engineer who wants a dozen hams. If you cannot sell your hams for negotiable security you may be waiting for the electric motor a long time. You will have to wait until you find somebody who has the raw materials you want to purchase and who at the same time requires the 12 hams you have to sell. It is the money value of our stuff that goes out that enables us to pay the money value of the things we want to bring in. Fortunately for us the increase in our exportable surplus of live stock has been 100 per cent. at a price that will leave a profit to our producers. Signs on it. We were able to earn £53,931,284 from that class of export in 1954.
I would remind the House that increased veterinary knowledge and its application to the live stock of this country has resulted in saving about 100,000 calves a year where they used to die and which are now going out of this country at two and a half to  three years old at prices varying between £70 and £80 apiece. That is not for one year, but year after year.
Mr. Dillon: I know that one of the first things I did when I came into office was to close down a Fianna Fáil factory, put a padlock on the door, sack the men and tell the proprietor that I would summon him if I caught him opening the door again. Do you know what the factory was for? Slaughtering calves. It was going full steam ahead the day I took office. I was not in office a month until there was a padlock on the door. A Fianna Fáil deputation asked me to reopen it. Was it not a mercy that I stuck to my decision to keep a padlock on the door? Does anybody deny that? If they deny it I can give them the name of the factory and if they are still in doubt I will provide an escort to bring them down to have a look at it. For the 17 gloomy years that Fianna Fáil was in office 80,000 calves died through slaughter or disease every year.
Mr. Dillon: If you look now at the return you will find that the average annual mortality of calves has dropped to between 10,000 and 12,000 and it is still going down. It would be indelicate for me to claim too much credit for that but at least I can claim credit for putting a padlock on the calf factory and that was indicative of my general outlook on the question.
The output per person in agriculture has increased by 36.5 per cent. since 1940. That indicates a substantial increase in productivity of those employed on the land. The number of agricultural instructors in the country in 1938 was 41. In 1948 it was 71, and to-day it is 140. In addition, there are  51 horticultural instructors and 79 poultry instructors. There are 111 parish agents in the congested areas and, under the recently introduced parish plan to which I shall refer later, it is proposed to strengthen further these advisory services.
A great deal of work is being done in soil sampling, calf breeding and grassland research. Very valuable work is also being done in the veterinary field in the Department's veterinary research laboratory. I do not think it is good policy for us to hide under a bushel the fruits of the exertions of our scientific workers which we are all too apt to do but I would invite Deputies to have regard to the recent work that was done for the control of white scour in calves.
I think that Deputies coming from the creamery areas in Ireland will agree with me that substantial as was the contribution of the Department of Agriculture in the control of parasitical diseases such as stomach worm and fluke in cattle and live stock, the control of white scour amongst calves is very great indeed. I think we ought to recall also that over the period from 1948 to 1954 we have it to tell that whereas in 1948 the land was in urgent need of limestone and there was not available in the whole of Ireland enough ground limestone to fill one eggcup, to-day there is available in this country from 49 separate plants sufficient ground limestone to provide everybody's requirements at 16/- a ton and less delivered to their gates wherever they may be.
I think it is an interesting thing also to realise that the land project has already rehabilitated 440,000 acres of land, including the work done under section A, section B and the fertiliser section. It is now employing in addition to those directly employed on the land a not inconsiderable number of industrial workers producing 20,000,000 pipes per annum which are required for the drainage operations of the land project. Those pipes are now rapidly approaching the point at which they are equal in quality and price to  anything we can get from any other source.
I think there may be certain statistical matter which may be of value to Deputies in the course of this debate which I now propose to give them. I cannot offer the House any precisely accurate estimate of the crop position as of to-day and so the figures I am about to give to the House are given subject to the warning that they are as near as we can go to the facts from all the sources of information at our disposal. These figures are very much approximation. I am thinking of the lamentation expressed in this House last December when I was told that if I pursued my headlong career in regard to the price of wheat our people would be starving for the want of a slice of bread, that there would not be a perch of wheat grown from one end of the country to the other and that I was sponsoring a policy designed to wreck the whole programme of wheat growing in this country.
Mr. Dillon: We had last year 486,368 acres of wheat. How much does the Deputy think has been sown down to wheat so far this year? The estimates I get fluctuate between 370,000 acres and 400,000 acres.
Mr. Dillon: Here are the figures. They scarcely fulfil the gloomy anticipations that were expressed on the far side of the House, but I am happy to tell the House that they have fulfilled already some cf the purposes I had in mind.
Mr. Dillon: Do you know what that purpose is? Some of the racketeers who were growing 1,000 acres of wheat have their holdings up for sale and their passages booked to Biarritz and the faster they go and the further they go the better pleased this Government will be. The tragedy is that they are leaving behind them hundreds of acres of conacre land that they tore up last year and planted in wheat and that they have abandoned this year and which nobody has gown down and which is, left after them, a desert. Is it not a mercy of God that they are going or that they are gone and that we still have farmers left in this country who agree with me that there is enough profit in the guaranteed price for wheat this year to justify laying down from 370,000 to 400,000 acres under the crop?
Mr. Dillon: We had what we never  had before, every oatmeal miller in this country bound by contract to buy his total requirements from Irish growers and, as Deputy Walsh well knows, our experience has been heretofore that of the total oat crop in this country seldom 10 per cent. has come upon the market. My advice to the farmers of this country is the same to-day as it has always been: if they want to get the maximum profit on their oat crop, instead of paying transport companies and divers others, dealers, millers, shopkeepers and others, to handle it and take their profit on it, they will be much wiser to walk those oats off their land by feeding it to their own live stock and getting out of it all the profit for themselves.
Mr. Dillon: Deputy Gilbride does not approve of cattle, I think. I would like to get this clear—what is the Fianna Fáil position on live stock in this country? Is if Deputy Gilbride's position or is it that of Deputy Walsh? Deputy Walsh says he loves live stock. Deputy Gilbride says that live stock are an evidence of bad farming and possibly treason.
Mr. Dillon: And no other man on God's earth knows what Deputy Gilbride means. I am trying to find out. Deputy Walsh says “what else had they to grow?” Last year we had 162,644 acres of barley in this country What acreage does Deputy Walsh think we have to-day?
Mr. Dillon: We have about 220,000 acres. When you tot it all up it looks like as if we had about 1,100,000 acres of cereals last year and that we will have 1,250,000 acres this year under grain, with this difference, that this year we may reasonably anticipate that we will not have to license imports of oats from Scotland or barley from Irak.
Mr. Dillon: The Deputy understands, I am talking of actual acreage sown under the crops, not acreage saved. I am talking of the actual acreage sown under these crops. I agree with the Deputy entirely. I share his hope that we shall not have a harvest this year such as we had last year. God grant that, if we have, the Deputy will have as efficient a Minister for Agriculture in office as he had last autumn. He will remember that he was apprehensive that 50 per cent. of the wheat crop would be rejected as unmillable and I was able to reassure him, when the harvest was over, that only 3 per cent. had been rejected as unmillable and he will remember Deputy Corry expressing amazement at the performance of the Department of Agriculture.
Mr. Dillon: Now, Sir, I want to turn to the parish plan. The aim of the parish plan is to bring within the reach of any group of farmers in this country who want to establish a parish council and to have made available to them the services of a highly qualified agricultural advisory officer such a person on a request to the Department of Agriculture. I am glad to observe that when the Irish Times suggested last February that the Fianna Fáil Party was opposed to this plan, the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, Deputy de Valera, lost no time in addressing a letter to the Irish Times on the 4th February, 1955, angrily repudiating any such suggestion and saying that Fianna Fáil strongly supported the parish plan but were deterred from putting it into operation because they were unable to recruit the personnel. I know Deputy Walsh will be glad to hear that I immediately secured authority from the Government and the Minister for Finance to publish an advertisement seeking 20 parish agents with whom to initiate the plan and that I had the good fortune to receive 89 applications so that parish agents are at present being chosen and we may now hope to see the parish plan expanding and broadening in the years that lie ahead.
I should like to give this categorical assurance to the House: it is no part of my intention to thrust the service on any parishes that do not want it and no parish will get an agent if they do not ask for one. But those that want it will have it made available in order that they shall have at their immediate disposal an expert to serve as their friend and adviser in any problem relating to the output of their land. I am very glad to inform the  House that to date we have received applications for such assistance from almost every county and as soon as we can reach it we propose to make it available with such dispatch as we may be able.
I would like to give the House now the latest information available in regard to the eradication of bovine T.B. To date the progress in regard to this scheme has exceeded our most optimistic anticipations and in so far as our exertions are restricted they are restricted as a result of the difficulty of securing the services of trained veterinary staff. I think most Deputies are familiar with the provisions of the scheme. To date the number of applications received from County Glare, County Sligo and from Greater Bansha represent 33 per cent., 30 per cent., and 51 per cent., respectively, of all the herd owners in the areas. The initial testing of herds by the private veterinary surgeons is proceeding rapidly month by month and each herd owner is aubsequently visited by a veterinary inspector from the Department of Agriculture to arrange the herd programme including, in most cases, the purchase of reactors and their removal for slaughter.
The response by herd owners in the general areaa—meaning of course, the entire country—has been most enthusiastic and widespread, almost 16,000 applications having been received up to the 31st March, 1955. The applications, while spread over the general areas as a whole, are particularly numerous from Counties Cork, Kerry, Galway and Mayo. This extremely heavy response far exceeds the anticipated demand for the facilities available and creates an acute problem in regard to the arranging of herd programmes, etc., which it was intended would, as in the intensive areas, be dealt with by the Department's veterinary inspectors. Valuable co-operation by the veterinary profession has, however, enabled this difficulty to be overcome for the present.
It has been arranged that the private veterinary surgeons will advise herd owners on these matters and, pursuant to this arrangement, over 6,300 of the applicants in the general  areas have already received professional guidance and advice which should enable them effectively to deal with the eradication of the disease in their herds. It is noteworthy that almost 95 per cent. of the herd owners in all areas who have so far had the preliminary test of their herds carried out—which is done without obligation on the part of the herd owner—have elected to participate in the scheme. Participants in the bovine T.B. eradication scheme are given priority in respect of applications under the farm buildings scheme. Herd owners in the three intensive areas have been offered grants at double the existing rates under the farm buildings scheme. And this provision has now been extended to the participants in the bovine T.B. scheme in the general areas. Participants in all areas in the bovine T.B. eradication scheme may now also obtain grants under the water supplies to farm dwellings scheme, so that they can have piped water supplies to their farmyards and farms.
Now I should like to dwell for a moment on the land project. As I have informed the House, to date 444,000 acres under sections A and B of the fertiliser scheme have been dealt with and when you realise that almost all of that area of land was producing less than 50 per cent. of what it was capable of producing before being dealt with, I do not think we have any reason to be ashamed of having begun the land project. Great capital was made by certain people in its initial stage of the proportion of the total outlay involved in overhead expenses. I grant that that was a vulnerable line of attack, extremely difficult to repel in the early stages of the project. I gave the reason for it and every reasonable Deputy in the House accepted it, but it was broadcast widely to misrepresent the matter. We started from nothing in 1949. We had to build up the whole machine and in the initial year there was relatively little work being done with the result that overheads amounted to 33? per cent. of the total outlay.
We knew very well that as the work got under way the value of the work  being done would very rapidly catch up on the overhead expenses involved and I think Deputy Walsh will confirm that with every year that passed the proportion of overheads steadily declined and that it is now down to 15 per cent. of the total. Deputies will find the matter dealt with in greater detail in the White Paper. During the period of office of the previous Government certain upward limits were put on the expenditure that might be undertaken on any particular scheme. That resulted in a growing problem which rendered the use of machinery and the headquarters staff more and more uneconomic because so many proposals had to be turned down on the grounds that they exceeded the maximum permissible under the Order made by the Government, which had machinery travelling all over the place to find work which was susceptible of being irndertaken, and you had the ridiculous position that a large part of the staff's time was spent working out schemes for farmers only to discover, when the scheme was completed, that it exceeded the permissible maximum by £1 or £2 per acre, and all the work had gone for nothing and we simply had to tell the farmer it could not be undertaken at all.
The Government, therefore, has consented, at my instance, to abolish that limitation and to provide that, where the amount of money involved is greater than the maximum laid down by our predecessors, the work can still be undertaken provided that, in respect of the excess above the maximum fixed by our predecessors, the applicant will pay 50 per cent. of the cost. It is, however, provided that outlay on no acre of land will be undertaken at a sum of more than £60 without special reference to the Minister or to the director of the project.
But there can arise cases where in the middle of a 40- or 50-acre scheme an acre or an acre and a half may be found which, were it standing alone, would not be touched, but which must be done in this particular case if all the rest of the land is to be done also; in such cases I believe it would be justifiable to spend a sum which, under ordinary circumstances, would be  regarded as excessive for the rehabilitation of the specific acre and in such cases I will have no hesitation in approving of such a scheme.
Generally, however, it is my intention to press forward with the rehabilitation of every acre of land I can find that can be converted into productive arable land. I would ask the House to remember that the project will undertake the reclamation of no land that cannot be converted into productive land, whether it costs 1/- or £40 per acre to do it. I believe that where you can make productive land out of derelict land it is good business for this nation to put its hand to that work instead of sending those who might be employed on such work to Birmingham, Manchester or London to get employment there.
Now there is another matter I want to mention, in passing, in relation to the land project. I need hardly say I shall be happy to answer any detailed inquiry that may be put to me in the course of this debate. In dealing with 444,000 acres of land when we started I anticipated that we would get bogged down in certain places, and make mistakes as we felt our way through this new departure. I want to say now, having an opportunity of looking back over the first five or seven years during which this work has been in progress, that what astonished me is how few mistakes were made. I want to tell the House that mistakes were made. I would like to reassure Deputy Walsh, if anyone wants to draw down certain errors of judgment that may have been embarked upon during his period in office, by saying that, had I been in office, exactly the same errors of judgment would have been perpetrated and I would have stood over the officers who made those errors of judgment just as Deputy Walsh did.
What astonishes me is, looking back over the work, considering the novelty of it and the possibility of getting drawn into a job which, when you are in it up to your neck proves to be very much more burdensome and difficult than any ordinary precedent would reasonably anticipate, how few such cases there were; what encourages me  is, wherever there has been such a case, and there have been very few, how carefully they have been noted and how consistently that experience has been used thereafter to ensure no similar mistakes will occur again.
I issue this challenge because I know that Deputies will be anxious to give me help, help which will be very valuable to me as Minister for Agriculture: I anticipate that there will be Deputies here who can point out to me isolated instances where perhaps zeal outstripped discretion. I challenge any Deputy to show me two similar cases where zeal, having outstripped discretion once, was allowed to do so in similar circumstances again. Any enterprise which can make that boast is entitled to the credit of being described as a well-run enterprise that did not allow itself to be tied down by an excess of caution when there was important work to be done.
Now let me turn to the question of artificial insemination, progeny testing and the breeding policy of the country generally. I want to suggest to the House that here is the very key to the whole future of the agricultural economy of this country; and here is one of the few criticisms I want to make of Deputy Walsh's administration. During his three years we were in grave danger of losing that key. I do not know what line of live-stock policy Deputy Walsh ultimately decided when he was Minister for Agriculture should be pursued here. I heard him say, and I applauded him when he said it, that in his judgment the foundation of the live-stock and dairying industry here must be the steadily improving dual-purpose Shorthorn cow. I agreed with him 100 per cent. But, when I came to examine Ins performance while he was Minister for Agriculture, I cannot for the life of me see how he set about the implementation of that policy.
Up to 1951 I maintained strenuously that, though I would restrict no farmer from doing what he himself thought best in his own interests, in so far as the Department of Agriculture provided artificial insemination, particularly where they were subsidising  them, we would seek to use the artificial insemination centres to bring special facilities to the door of the man who was breeding the dual-purpose Shorthorn cow which I regarded, and I understand my successor regarded, as the foundation of the whole live-stock industry here. As far as I can discover, from 1961 to 1954 that whole line of policy was abandoned and one finds now in the artificial insemination centres Shorthorns, Friesians, Herefords, Aberdeen Angus. I could understand it if the Minister for Agriculture decided that in the special circumstances of a certain area a certain number of farmers urgently required Friesian bulls for their Friesian herds and in that way facilitated them. I could understand him saying: “Very well. I will allow so many Friesian bulls in that artificial insemination centre provided it is clearly understood, that Friesian is used with Friesian and that there is not a kind of hybrid mongrel live stock bred out of the artificial insemination centres to a point where there would be no foundation stock, of any kind.”
I am sorry to say that, as far as I could see, the line has been irrevocably broken and one will find records now of a man coming this year with a Shorthorn cow and breeding her to a Friesian bull and coming back in three years' time—I would not mind if in three years' time the farmer said: “I have made up my mind to turn over to Friesian and I will breed this hybrid heifer to a Friesian bull again and I will go on breeding all my cattle to Friesian bulls until I have ail Friesian cattle”; that I could understand—with a hybrid Shorthorn Friesian heifer which he wants to bring now to a Hereford bull. If that continues we will end up in this country with cattle that are neither Aberdeen Angus, Herefords, Shorthorn nor Friesian.
I think that policy is wholly wrong. It is very easy to break the line but once you have broken the line it is very hard to get back again. Once you have told everybody: “It is free for all, let every man go in and breed his cattle whatever way he likes and the artificial insemination centres will co-operate”,  it becomes extremely difficult to take up a new line and say: “That must stop, and the artificial insemination centres will only breed Shorthorn with Shorthorn and Friesian with Friesian and where a man wants to turn over that he will be allowed to follow a steady policy of breeding his cattle with Friesian bulls continuously in order to effect a complete change of cattle on his holding.”
I do not want to disguise from this House that I am very concerned about the tendency that is spreading throughout the country of forgetting any fundamental breeding policy and I would be very much obliged to Deputies for any measure of co-operation they can offer me in restoring to this country a breeding policy—not a particular breed of cattle because I cannot expect that we would all agree on one breed of cattle. But I think that we should all agree on this: there is one breed of cattle to avoid and that is a mongrel breed. We should all agree to exhort our friends, whatever their political views may be, that they ought devise some breeding policy for themselves and follow that consistently.
In my judgment, it was never more evident than it is to-day that the whole future of the agricultural industry of this country is intimately bound up with the development of the dual-purpose Shorthorn cow. That will vex some of us. I do not want to restrict the liberty of anybody to do otherwise than he wants to do but I am trying to look at the country as a whole and I want to remind Deputies of what I said earlier, that the future of agricultural exports is fiercely competitive. Now, if we are going to produce butter in the future for sale on the export market we have got to produce it at the lowest possible penny and I am going to suggest to Deputies that if butter is to be produced at the lowest possible cost the only way in which it can be sold is to produce it from grass, growing, ensiled and in hay, and that the price of butter on the world market will not pay for the feeding of concentrates to cattle in the winter. I  do not want to see butter produced in this country from a 1,200-gallon cow because a cow cannot give 1,200 gallons on grass, hay and silage. You must feed such a cow concentrates if you are to keep her alive if she continues to give 1,200 gallons.
What I would ask Deputies in this House is to realise that there are two entirely different milk economies in the world. One is the milk economy of Great Britain which is the liquid milk economy. No milk is produced in England for conversion into butter. The guaranteed price in England is related to liquid milk and in a great industrial country like Great Britain they can decide to pay any price they like for milk. But even in Great Britain they have paid so high a price for liquid milk that they now have a milk surplus. They are beginning to cut their losses-and the surplus is beginning to find its way into the chocolate crumb factories, with the result that our exports of chocolate crumb are beginning to dwindle. We have to realise where you have farmers producing liquid milk for consumption in Dublin and in Cork or for sale anywhere in liquid form, their whole outlook on milk production will be fundamentally different from that of the man who is producing milk for conversion into butter and cheese.
The man producing for liquid consumption is interested in maintaining equality of supply summer and winter to meet the demands of his customers, and at the prices he can get for liquid consumption milk he can afford to feed concentrates. He can afford to mash his cows and, therefore, the higher the milk yield he can get out of milch cows probably the higher the profit he can get if he is in a position to get an outlet for his production. But if a man has no outlet except the creameries and the milk has to be converted into butter and there is a surplus of butter over our own ability to consume—over 75O,OOO cwt. per annum —it has to be exported into competitive markets. I submit to this House if we are to substitute an expansive dairy policy for a restrictive one we have to try to produce butter at prices that will secure a profit on the world market. I know of no other  way to do that than through the medium of a cow that can produce milk to her maximum capacity from grass, growing, in hay or ensiled.
I submit to the House that the type of cow that can do that is the Shorthorn cow whose annual lactation will be in order of 600 to 800 gallons. That cow will have a calf which the farmer can sell to-day at anything from £10 to £15 within a week of its being born. Suppose a man gets £15 for a dropped calf: convert that into pence—is not that 3,600 pence? Is not that equivalent to 4d. per gallon on an 800 gallon cow or 6d. per gallon on a 600 gallon cow? Here you have a farmer who is catering for the most competitive international market in the world and our object is to get for him for every gallon out of that cow the maximum price we can—I do not care whether it is through the medium of butter or beef. But if we can work out a cow that will pay through butter and through beef is not that a better cow if it requires no mash at all, because it will yield from growing grass and can be maintained in good condition through the winter on ensilage and hay? Is not that a valuable cow in our economy?
What will you do with an Ayrshire bull calf? What will you do with a Jersey bull calf, or what will you do with a Friesian bull calf? You will be living with the Friesian bull calf until you are sick looking at him before he is fit to sell for beef. He will be as old as a bush before you can sell him, and he will be walking about and you will be looking at the landscape under his stomach——
Mr. Dillon: If it is, I suggest that the Deputy would come down and take a couple that I have off my hands. I am looking at them long enough and I suggest to the Deputy that when we get down to working out a price he will not break his neck buying them. If the Deputy were going to a fair in the morning to buy cattle to feed on his own grass would he search the fair to seek out the Aberdeen Angus or the Friesian bull calves?
Mr. Dillon: Very well. Nothing could be fairer than that. But there are damn few Deputies in this House who, if they went to a fair and if there were six Aberdeen Angus there and six Friesian bullocks both of the same age and both at the same price, who would pick out the six Friesians and drive them home, and if anyone did, his wife would get him committed to the local lunatic asylum, and there would not be a voice raised in the parish to say her nay. They would say it was high time that he was shifted somewhere or otherwise the poor woman would starve. And the neighbours would be perfectly right. I ask him to apply that simple test: If there are six Friesian bullocks there and six Aberdeen Angus Shorthorns, both the same age and the same price, is there any Deputy in this House who would take the six——
Mr. Dillon: Who on earth ever milked a bullock? What are we going to do if argument is reduced to this level? This is fantastic. However, I think Deputy Allen knows what I am talking about. I want to say that I believe that, whether we like it or not, artificial insemination is going to become a regular feature of the live-stock industry of this country. I know there are views strongly held about them, in favour of natural insemination and artificial insemination and I see a good deal of force in the view strongly sustaining the maintenance of natural insemination as against artificial insemination. I do not believe, whatever views we may have, that it is possible to turn back the clock and I believe artificial insemination is going to become a feature of our live-stock industry.
However, artificial insemination has a great danger in it because the potentiality of an individual bull that is passing on bad characteristics to its progeny becomes immensely magnified and therefore the precautions of progeny testing become infinitely more  important and more urgent than they are under conditions of natural insemination. But here is the difference. You will find two bodies of experts, equal in distinction, learning and experience, one of which will tell you that field progeny testing is the only method of value and the other which will tell you equally categorically that station progeny testing is the only one which will give you significant results. Therefore, where you have two bodies of experts, equally distinguished internationally, giving diametrically opposite views, it is extremely difficult for any Minister for Agriculture, whether Deputy Walsh or myself, to know what course he should take, particularly when the ultimate responsibility rests upon him for the consequence of whatever policy is decided upon.
However, I can try to get the best advice I can, and then, decide. Accordingly, I have invited Dr. Hammond of Cambridge to come and give us the benefit of his advice in a consultative capacity and I am bound here and now, which I gladly do, to acknowledge the courtesy of the British Ministry of Agriculture in freeing Dr. Hammond from certain contractual obligations which he had in the British Department to come to us for a limited period in a consultative capacity in order to provide the best opinion I can get on progeny testing and artificial insemination so that in determining lines of policy at least I can say: “I got the best advice I could before accepting the responsibility of taking final decisions”.
While I hope to fortify myself with such professional advice, I do sincerely say to Deputy Walsh, to all his colleagues and to my own colleagues on the benches behind me, that I would value their opinion on these problems relating to live-stock policy, progeny testing and artificial insemination. After all, there is in this House a very considerable reservoir of common sense and experience on which it is, a great advantage for any Minister for Agriculture to draw, provided the advice tendered is bona fide and  given in good part. If it is I can assure Deputies, wherever they may sit, it will be received in a similar spirit and given just as careful consideration as advice arising from any other quarter.
Let me say that I was never more convinced than I am to-day that the sheet anchor and foundation of the economic life of this country is intimately associated with the dual-purpose Shorthorn cow and that any short-term, illusory conviction that you are to measure the value of a breed of cattle exclusively by the volume of its annual lactation has in it the seeds of great possible disaster for this country. If that view had prevailed ten yeara ago and if the Minister of that time had accepted the advice then pressed upon him that we should abandon the Shorthorn breed and go over to Friesians and Jerseys—and remember that advice was pressed strongly ten or 15 years ago—where would we be to-day? And we could have done that in 15 years, we could have turned over practically completely. Where would we be to-day if we had turned over to Friesian and Jersey cattle?
I invite Deputies who have the opportunity of doing this, to ask the agricultural authorities in Northern Ireland, who saw their farmers lured out of the Shorthorn breed into Ayrshires and Friesians by the artificial price for liquid milk in Northern Ireland, how they feel about that to-day. Ask them what they are trying to do and I think you will find that in Northern Ireland to-day they are trying desperately to get back into the Shorthorn breed and they are going to have a very hard job to do so.
I freely concede this, that by the prescience and wisdom of some of my predecessors, they withstood fierce pressure from many quarters to persuade them to jettison the Shorthorn cow and to turn over to Friesians and Jerseys. If they had accepted the bad advice that was pressed upon them 15 years ago I want to tell you that, in my considered judgment, to-day this country would be close to bankruptcy. We would be faced with the obligation  of placing on our foreign trade savage restrictions which they are initiating in Australia, Denmark and elsewhere at the present time and we would have to forbid the public to purchase large ranges of imported commodities. Do not forget that in Australia and Denmark they are having to do that now owing to exchange difficulties into which they are getting, and those are countries that are constantly held up to us. I think I am right in saying that the same problem affects New Zealand. This is one of the few countries left in the world in which our expanding exports, in volume and value, are financing practically unrestricted imports.
I ask Deputies in this House to ask themselves: if to-day we had nothing but Friesians and Jerseys in this country, what would our export-import position be? I would ask Deputy Walsh when he comes to speak on this to give us the benefit of his advice on what our future policy should be in regard to the live-stock industry. I know what my own advice is. I want to coerce nobody but I want to increase and multiply facilities for the farmer who will maintain sound, improving dual-purpose Shorthorn cattle in this country. I want to leave the farmer whose special circumstances induce him to establish a herd of Frieaians, Jerseys or anything else— goats if he wants to—to do so, but I want there to be no illusion or doubt that any special facilities provided will bo primarily designed to help the man who in my opinion is serving not only his own personal interest but the long-term interest of the nation as a whole in preserving what we have in unique degree at the present time, a foundation stock of Shorthorn cattle.
Let me add this. It is impossible to say too much on this subject, for it is the very cornerstone of our future economy. There are many people who say that it is the Aberdeen Angus or the Shorthorn or the Hereford bull that makes the Shorthorn-Aberdeen Angus cross or the Shorthorn-Hereford cross so valuable. That is quite illusory and wrong. Ask any experienced live-stock man is it not true that he has  seen his neighbours break themselves trying to fatten Aberdeen Angus cattle and you will find a surprising number of experienced old cattle men who will tell you that the people who bought pure bred Aberdeen Angus cattle in the belief that they were buying something twice as good as the first cross Shorthorn-Aberdeen Angus broke themselves trying to finish them but the man who buys the first cross with the hybrid vigour of the first cross Shorthorn-Aberdeen Angus in it, is the man who makes money.
There are other parts of the country where the first cross Shorthorn-Hereford with the hybrid vigour of the first cross in it may be the best, but I would like the House to know this, that when we were negotiating the trade agreement in Great Britain one of the most experienced advisers of the British Ministry of Agriculture was one of the toughest persons with whom we had to deal and one of the toughest persons in putting up objections to the case we were making. Subsequently that distinguished public servant retired from the British public service and came to live in Ireland and we were able to be of some service in finding him a suitable holding on which to retire and live amongst us.
I remember very well his coming back to me in 1951 and expressing appreciation of the courtesy shown to him and he said: “I would like to show some courtesy in return; you might have thought I was very tough in objecting when you were making your case”. I said: “Not at all; far from it, I admired you for your tenacity and for the zeal with which you served the Minister whom you were charged to advise”. He said: “I am now retired and want to express some appreciation of the courtesy shown to me here in Ireland and I will give you the best advice I can, having had 50 years' experience of the British meat market”. He said: “Now in 1951 the bigger the beast and the heavier the beast, the better demand there will be for it in England; but a day is coming, Mr. Dillon, when the British housewife will recover her right to choose and when that day comes the man who will make the money is the  man who has Aberdeen Angus-Shorthorn crossed bullocks to sell on the British market”.
That advice was given to me in 1951. Was it not good advice? Certain Deputies may remember my relaying that advice at that time and saying that the Aberdeen Angus-Shorthorn cross was the type of live stock that would pay when the British housewife recovered her right to choose. Has not his advice proved right? It was never more right than it is to-day and it will continue to be so for the next ten to 15 years. I wish I were as sure of everything in connection with agriculture as I am sure of that and I would invite Deputy Walsh to join with me in laying down two general propositions—one, that there is no desire on any part of this House to coerce any individual farmer into doing anything contrary to his best Judgment, provided he does not injure his neighbours, and, two, from the point of view of the individual dairy farmer and the nation as a whole, the best proposition is the dual-purpose Shorthorn cow and that the first charge upon our progeny testing and artificial insemination resources should be steadily to improve the strain and quality of the foundation stock of Shorthorn cattle in this country. If we are all agreed on these general propositions, we would make very real and valuable headway indeed in improving the economic structure of the nation as a whole.
There is one other matter to which I would refer in these introductory remarks—I apologise if they have seemed unduly protracted, but this is a fascinating topic—it is the matter of soil testing. I like to remember that in 1948 the total of soil samples tested was 4,547. Deputies will not forget what an achievement that represented, because most of these soil samples were tested in the old medicine bottle, tied to the discarded bicycle wheel which was revolving on the fourpenny nail in the back room of Ballyhaise Agricultural College. Some day we ought to erect a monument to the valiant 14-year old boy whose first employment in life was spinning the  discarded bicycle wheel with the medicine bottle attached to if, in the back room in Ballyhaise. Some day, if I can find out who that fellow is and where he is, I will try and get the Government to give him a leather medal.
Mr. Dillon: I have the wheel. I do not know if Deputy Walsh disposed of it. I kept it as a national relic and I was going to send it to the museum to put it beside Deputy de Valera's boots, so that posterity might admire two relics of great value to the nation. However, in 1949 we graduated out of the bicycle wheel and 25,000 samples were tested. In 1950, 50,000 were tested; in 1951, 72,000; in 1952, 67,000; in 1953, 100,000; and in 1954, 101,000. I think few services have given better value for money than the soil-testing facilities which have been built up at Johnstown Castle. I like to look back on the fact that we went forward boldly, at very considerable expense, in equipping these laboratories to be as good as any in Europe, that we have got abundant return from them to date and that we cap confidently look forward to getting increasing value from them with every year that passes.
I want to express categorically my confident faith in the ability of the farmers of this country to carry the whole of our community on their backs —as they have done—if they were given the chance. We have at our disposal 12,000,000 acres of the best land in the world and we have upon it as fine a body of farmers as is to be found in any country in the world. The most precious quality they have is that they are independent and they are free, and they will not be coerced by anyone or anything into doing what they do not want to do. They can be persuaded and they can be educated into getting from our land more than any other class of people in the world could get.
I like to recall that, at a recent meeting in Paris of the agricultural Ministers of Europe, one Minister mentioned,  in explanation of his failure to get some particular branch of agriculture developed as fast as he would have wished, that they in their country had the problem of certain farmers, small farmers, who did not like being pushed about. I lost no time in replying to him and saying: “My colleague, the Minister of so and so, should thank God he has in his country that most precious of all agricultural assets—a body of farmers who will not be pushed about.” We have plenty of them in Ireland and God grant we always may.
I would ask Deputies of this House, when they are being told to compare conditions in this country or that country—I will not name them—when they are being told that the farmers of this country or that country are making much more money than the farmers here in Ireland to go and find out how the farmers are living in this country and that country and compare how they are living here. If our farmers were prepared to bind their necks to the yoke of regulations which evoke the glorious monetary income that some of their competitors enjoy elsewhere they could earn just as much money but God forbid they ever would. I would sooner see them free and independent and retaining the right to take part of the reward in a leisure that farmers in other countries are never allowed to know.
We can have too much leisure, but it is none the less true on the land of Ireland as it is everywhere else that all work and no play makes a dull boy. I would like to see plenty of work— and the work is there to be done—but I would like to see the people on the land guaranteed the same right to a decent life as the trade unionist, the shopkeeper, the banker, the doctor or barrister or anybody else. It is the policy of the Department of Agriculture, so long as I am Minister for Agriculture, to ensure that they get it.
We have a glorious opportunity before us. There is only one possibility of that vast potentiality for an abundant life for all our people being frustrated and that is that our farmers should be persuaded that there is some  particular virtue in insisting on their right to continue producing at a price which nobody else in the world is prepared to pay. If that becomes a kind of obsession with the farmers of this country, the future of this country is black indeed. If, however, our farmers are prepared to face the future confident of their ability to meet competition from all quarters and to beat it, we can do it with the resources we have got and we can get out of the land with which God endowed this nation a higher standard of living for all our people than is enjoyed by any other agricultural country in the world.
I agree most cordially that it is desirable that the fundamental principles of agricultural policy should be lifted out of and above the day-to-day desirable—I say deliberately “desirable”—cut and thrust of political debate. I am not one of those who believe that the normal functioning of Parliament is a disedifying spectacle when men clash vigorously across the floor of this House and differ, and differ trenchantly, on matters that fall to be discussed and settled in this Parliament. However, I would welcome it if we could arrive at an agreement on fundamentals. I am bound to say that for the three years during which I sat in opposition to Deputy Walsh when he was Minister for Agriculture—while there were-many matters of detailed administration which I conceived it to be my duty to criticise and perhaps criticise trenchantly and repeatedly—I felt there was a certain residual fundamental policy, in certain branches of agriculture at least, about which we were in substantial agreement.
I am not asking that this fundamental policy should be limited as my property or Deputy Walsh's property: what I hoped for was that it would become our common policy to which we would all be prepared to give a common allegiance, reserving to ourselves the right energetically to criticise the administration on details of policy in general, as is our duty in a democratic Parliament. At the very apex of that common structure of policy I would place the Shorthorn cow. I would dare to say the future  of this country is closely associated with the Shorthorn cow. If we make of it the best that can be made, and use our land to provide the raw material of all our exports in the agricultural sphere, we have a fine future before us. If, however, we recoil from that challenge and accept the doctrine that it is a legitimate aspiration to produce from our land what our own domestic market will consume, and no more, so certain as we are in this House to-day we will lose not only our sovereignty but our independence as a nation.
Nothing sustains and nourishes the sovereign independence of Ireland but the land. If that ceases to prosper, Ireland's independence will perish with it. Do not forget that the economy of Newfoundland, one of the oldest nations in the Commonwealth of Nations, was founded on the sea and the harvest of the sea and that she forgot that. She allowed that harvest to dwindle while she turned her mind to other things. When she awoke from those illusions and discovered that her economy was no longer virile because she forgot the natural harvest with which God endowed her, she became the ward in chancery of the British Treasury for the duration of the war and, at the conclusion, was told to opt not for sovereignty and independence on the one hand or servitude on the other but that now there were left only two options to her—permanent existence as a crown colony of the British Crown or incorporation into the Federation of Canada. She chose the latter. She had a natural colonial affinity with that great Dominion and found in it a new freedom as an integral part of a young Federation.
Where will Ireland find so suitable a home? We are older than the oldest of them. Our independence was venerable seven centuries ago and this generation have got it back again, by the exertion of those who went before —the founders of this State. It is possible for this generation to throw away, through economic folly, what it took seven centuries to recover. Remember, that victory can never be reproduced in the new world in which we live. It  is on our shoulders to determine whether we make good on the confident sacrifice of those who went before us and it is on our decision and on our actions that the issue of history will depend. I put it to this House that it is on agriculture that the future of this country depends. I am proud to have the responsibility for agriculture and I urgently bespeak the collaooration of Deputies from every side of this House in establishing the agricultural industry on a sound foundation.
I put down this motion for the purpose of having a much wider discussion than is usual on Estimates in respect of which there is no motion to refer back. We have been treated this evening to one of the gloomiest and most pessimistic speeches that has ever come from a ministerial bench. The Minister prefaced his remarks by talking about our rainfalls, implying that there was. nothing to be produced in this country. but grass, and further implying that the only way in which agriculture could be carried on was by producing beef for a foreign market. The speech we have listened to was an admission of failure. It made no provision for disposing of the surpluses that were handed over to the Coalition Government in June of last year. There was a surplus in milk; there was a surplus in cattle; there was a surplus in pigs and bacon; and there was a surplus in wheat.
Mr. Walsh: In other words, agriculture, as we know it—the form of agriculture which is most suited to this country, mixed farming—had its surpluses and the Minister has confessed that he was unable to deal with the problem that had arisen.
Let us divide agriculture into the different groups and categories into which it should be grouped. There are dairying, livestock production, tillage and poultry. When you cover these, you cover most of agriculture.
 Let me take dairying first. The Minister states that there is no future for dairying, that there is no prospect of finding a market for dairy products. The Minister agreed to subsidise the export of butter this year, the surplus of butter that was handed to him by the Fianna Fáil Government. In subsidising butter. I wonder did it ever occur to the Minister that he was subsidising the wrong dairy product.
There was another dairy product that might have shown a better return had he subsidised it. I refer now to the chocolate crumb which might not have cost the Minister as much money and still would have disposed of the milk surplus in the creameries. I do not know the exact sum of money he received for butter, but I do know that it must have cost from 2½d. to 3d. per gallon on the export market, and I know that if a subsidy of 1½d. were given on milk going into chocolate crumb, that chocolate crumb could be sold in the free market.
The price of chocolate crumb on the free market last year was £158 per ton. The difference between the English and the Irish price was £6 10s. per ton. One penny per gallon is £3 per ton of chocolate crumb and 2d. per gallon would have enabled him to get into the English market. Not merely would it have made it possible for him to go into the English market with his chocolate crumb, but it would have encouraged those engaged in the production of chocolate crumb to produce more. There is, for instance, one of our producers producing chocolate crumb at £165 per ton. It would have encouraged other manufacturers of chocolate crumb to avail of the free market that was there and it would have cost the State less to subsidise chocolate crumb than to subsidise butter. It was a mistake; it was bad administration.
Mr. Walsh: We got 411/- per cwt. for it. We had a profit out of it, even after storing it, and the market in July for Irish butter, or any butter for that matter, was better than it has been since. Why did the Minister not avail of the May production and sell it in the July market? It would not be necessary for him then to go to the Exchequer to get money to subsidise butter. It cost from 9d. to 10d. a 1b., I understand, to pay the foreigner to eat our butter. We need not have given him any butter. We could have given him another dairy product that would have paid the Irish farmer equally well and would have maintained the price of butter. That is not a question of policy—it is a question of administration.
While I am on the subject of milk, let me for a few minutes talk about milk costings. When we gave an increase in the price of milk away back in 1951, the Minister's attitude was that we were great fellows for doing it and he paid tribute to us for increasing milk by 1d. per gallon, but thought that we did not go far enough. What is the Minister's attitude to-day, so far as the dairy farmer is concerned? His attitude is one of denying him the right to know how much it is costing him to produce a gallon of milk. He is denying him that right. There was a staff working on milk costings for the past two and a half years. That staff has been reduced. By whom? Who reduced that staff? The Minister took away the men who were working on it.
Mr. Walsh: There were 23 people working on it and now I understand there are four. Maybe I am wrong, but will the Minister tell me whether I am right in my figures? Are there more than four working on it?
Mr. Dillon: I think so. We can get the figures. In any case, there is no restriction on their personnel. Any experienced personnel they want they can have for the asking but there is no use in giving them untrained personnel at this stage of their work.
Mr. Walsh: If the Minister who is responsible for producing that report to the Government does not know why there is a delay, an unnecessary delay, I wonder what he is doing in his Department. It is part of his work to produce that costings report for the Government.
Mr. Walsh: Has the Minister asked for it? The people of this country are producing milk at the same price as that at which they were producing it two years ago. It is now two years since the price of milk was fixed, but they are still waiting for that report. When that report is presented it will give an indication of how the dairying industry is getting on, and what policy should be followed.
We have listened to the Minister talking about Shorthorn cows. There is another cow. There is a volume of opinion in this country that favours the Friesian cow. The great majority, I admit, favour the Shorthorn cow. But when we are dealing with various items, we must know where we are going. We must establish, once and for all, which is the better type of cow for our purpose, if that can be done. There must be somebody who can tell the Minister that I had that in mind. There is a farm at Grange where this experiment can be carried out. Take the two classes, Friesian and Shorthorn. We could get the value of the milk at the end of 12 months, and the value of the calves. If they are steers, we could get the value of them then. You could then give a direction to the people of this councry and say: “Here, is the Shorthorn cow's production of milk, value so much, feeding so much in order to produce this amount of money. Here, on the other hand, is its progeny. Here is a steer; it costs so much to feed him; he was valued at so much at the end of 12 months, at the end of two years or three years, at current, market prices.”
Then you can get up on any platform or in this House and say to the people of this country: “A Shorthorn or  Friesian is the only solution, the only cow that we should have”. But until we have done that there is no use in getting up and making a statement agitating for the dual Shorthorn, when another person gets up and talks about the Friesian. There are people who will tell you about the Friesian—as a matter of fact it did happen at one time at meat sales that the Friesian had won first prize for the best quality meat. That happened, I think, two years ago in England, in competition with Aberdeen Angus, Shorthorns, and Herefords. So, while you have people who are prepared to produce that evidence, there is no use in any person standing up here and saying: “This type of animal or that is a better one for this country”. We mast prove these things, and it is only when they arc proved that you can go ahead.
Grange farm is the ideal place to prove it. I had it in mind—in fact, there was a certain sum ot money put down for progeny testing. That was the scheme I had in mind, that, we could go ahead with these tests, and be able to say to the people: “Here is the line we must follow”. I think the Minister would be very well advised if he would go ahead with that scheme even at the present time.
This evening the Minister went to great trouble in trying to establish the condition of affairs here which he would like, I am sure, to claim as being correct—that there has been, for instance, a general improvement in auriculture since 1948. I regret to say that is not true.
Mr. Walsh: It is not true, and the statistics prove it. There is no difficulty in proving it, even in his own White Paper. If you examine the figures in the statistics of the cattle population it shows that we were on the downward trend in June of 1951, as compared with June of 1950. I deprecate the use of these figures. If the Minister had not used them I would not have used them, but he wanted to establish that a general upward trend started in 1948, and continued through all the years down to 1954. That is not correct. There was a decline in  one year. In 1950 the total number of milch cows was 1,208,508. In 1951 that number was reduced to 1,189,380. That is not really significant, because for the past 100 years there has been a fluctuation in the number of cows.
What is significant, and where the real danger lies, is the reduction in the number of calves and animals under 12 months. In 1950, we had 982,866, but by 1951 the number of calves and animals was lower than in 1950, when it was 977,150. That is the significant point, that we were on the downward trend in the number of cattle. I disregard the numbers of two- and three-year-old animals. If you refer to the figures for 1952, there was still a further reduction in the number of young cattle. In that year they were down to 927,000, a reduction of 50,000, a reflection of what was happening from 1949 and into 1951. It was only in 1953 that we began to pick up, when the number increased from 927,000 to 998,000.
Similarly, if you refer to the number of pigs, you will find that there was a reduction from 1950 to 1951. There had been already a reduction from 1949 to 1950. In 1953, under the heading of sows for breeding, the number had gone up by over 20,000. These are the things that matter, the significant things.
What was the trend at that time? At that time, in 1951, the trend was downwards. We had already lost over 500,000 acres of tillage from 1948. From the statistics, you will find that we were not able to recover. In 1952, there was a slight recovery in tillage, and it was not until 1953-1954 that we had the great expansion of which the Minister now talks and compares it with the figures for 1948. The Minister said that what he would say to the House, and to the people of this country, would be the truth, and nothing but the truth, but the Minister should distinguish between what is truthful, as far as he is concerned, and what is not.
The Minister referred to the 1948 agreement. The 1948 agreement has nothing whatever to do with the high prices which we are getting for our live stock to-day. What is responsible for  the high prices to-day is the arrangement that was made in 1954 regarding the entry of our cattle into the British market.
In the 1948 Agreement it was a question of bulk purchase. The British Ministry of Food, acting on behalf of the British Government, bought all the food that was going into England, and distributed it. Naturally, they dealt with the Governments of the countries from which they were buying at that time. Our Government representatives met, and concluded an agreement with them which obtained until derationing took place in England. Derationing took place in England on the 6th of July last. From then on our cattle and sheep went into a free market. The arrangements made by Deputy Lemass and myself with the British Minister in March and April of last year enabled our cattle to go into that free market without let or hindrance to fetch the same price as the British farmer was getting for his cattle. It has not been claimed by Fianna Fáil that they were responsible for this, that or the other thing Deputy Flanagan, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, went down the country and stated: “The present Government were responsible for the present cattle prices.” This is absolutely false.
Let us have a look at the pig situation. What is the prospect for pork in the future? Does the Minister suggest that the farmers should continue to produce pigs at 214/- per cwt. and pay £24 10s. for pollard, £26 for bran and £30 for milo maize. Were we to do the things the Coalition Government did we would be shouted out of the country. At the time we left office the price of pigs was 252/- per cwt. The price of maize was £27. From August, 1953, until March, 1954, there were reductions in pig prices. There were reductions in the price of bacon and pork. Consequently, there was a reduction in the price of pigs, but for every reduction that took place during that period there was a corresponding reduction in the price of feeding stuffs.
Notwithstanding that reduction, the farmer who produced the pig was able  to make a profit and there was a tidy sum of money left in the barley fund. The Minister for Agriculture has not yet told us what he did with that fund. It was there to subsidise the price of barley or reduce the price of feeding stuffs. Was it used for the purpose of providing a price for barley? No, it was not. It would have enabled Grain Importers to pay a price of 48/- per barrel or thereabouts but the Minister fixed a price of £2. He could have reduced the price of feeding stuffs by £1 a ton.
Mr. Walsh: There was a good profit for the pig producer who was still getting 252/- a cwt. for his pigs. What happened the price of pollard? It went up £5 per ton. The price of straight maize to-day is £33. The farmer has to take 214/- a cwt. for his pigs. Would anyone believe that in a short period of 11 months such a thing would happen in this country? Would anyone believe that in such a short period the farming community would be taken out of the safe and secure position they were in? We know that the British producer is now almost in a position to supply most of the pork that is needed in Britain. We know that he has been developing bacon and pork production. We know that we have made no provision to compete with him. The provision we made was to give as far as possible a ration of food that would enable us to produce a pig that would possibly compete in the course of time with the Danish landrace.
The custom in the past has been to feed our pigs on potatoes and maize, particularly in the West of Ireland. Maize and potatoes produced a heavy, soft, oily, fat bacon. Nobody wants that bacon to-day. The best judge of bacon is the housewife and there is no housewife in this city or in any city or town in the country, or even on the farms, who is prepared to go in and buy heavy, fat bacon.
While I was Minister for Agriculture I could appreciate the idea that we should by the education of our people —not by coercion—get them to produce a better quality bacon. We proceeded to set up a scheme to enable that to be done. There was a time when the price of straight maize was £7 a ton higher in the West of Ireland than the price of barley. In other words, the western farmer was prepared to pay £7 a ton more for his maize than he was for barley.
It was very hard to wean the people away from the old system that operated in the West of Ireland and possibly in many other parts of the country as well where great quantities of maize were used for the feeding of pigs and poultry, but it was necessary to wean them off if we were to hold our own in any, market and if we were to produce a bacon that was suitable for the home and foreign market. The home market and not the foreign market is the largest for bacon. Our people are consuming more bacon now than ever before—possibly two-thirds the number of pigs going to our factories.
There was no use continuing to produce that heavy, fat bacon we were accustomed to producing. Consequently, I introduced a scheme whereby barley and maize would go together. I wanted to make the feeders barley-minded so that they could see the value of feeding barley by producing a better quality bacon. That scheme has been abandoned. The Minister has permitted the sale of straight maize. We are getting back into the old groove of producing the heavy fat, oily bacon for which there will not be a purchaser or a market.
Is it any wonder, therefore, that the price of our bacon is being cut on the British market; that we are not able to get into the first-grade category? Our pork and bacon is not of the first quality. It is not because we have not the pigs. We have the pigs to produce that first quality. The whole trouble is in the feeding of our pigs. The sooner the Minister follows the example that was there for him and gets our people to produce a better quality bacon by using better quality food the sooner will we be able to get into the good foreign markets. Until then, we will continue to be kept out of these good markets.
 Before I left office I made a submission to the Government to devote money from the National Development Fund for the purpose of setting up progeny testing stations. I have no doubt in my mind at all about the large white York pig. I do not believe it is in any way inferior to the Danish landrace. As a matter of fact, I saw a result of an experiment on the two types of pig in Denmark. That experiment established that the large white was as good as the landrace. The experiment was not completed but as far as it went, there was no difference. The balance was in favour of the large white.
We have established in this country that we have a large white as good as the landrace; we have a large white pig here with 16 ribs; we have a large white here with an equally good distribution of lean on the shoulder as the Danish landrace, with an equally good distribution of fat and lean on the bellies as the Danish landrace but our trouble is that we are unable to put our finger on him; he is going to the factory. My contention is that we should get that pig. We should be able to trace him and get it back and get the sows into the progeny testing stations and have progeny testing carried out.
The Minister has set up a progeny testing station at Ballyhaise. He has invited in the pedigree breeders. The pedigree breeders are all right. I have nothing to say to them. But we must remember that the large white York is a pedigree pig in every sense in this country now. There has been nothing else used for the past 20 years. They are as purebred as any pig you will find in any of the pedigree pig producers' houses. The only difference is that it has been produced in Ireland and most of the boars in the other case may have been produced in England. There is no difference as far as the breed is concerned.
In our breed we have 16-rib pigs, better distribution because most of the pigs that are bred by the pedigree pig producers are show pigs whereas the best place for our pig to be shown is on the table and it is not the pig which gets first prize at a show  that will get first prize from the housewife.
We should concentrate in our progeny testing stations on getting in that pig and progeny testing that pig and producing bacon that we will be able to sell in competition with the Danes and the Dutch on the British market.
In criticising the Minister's policy or the Government's policy I must refer to the price of wheat. The Minister's policy as outlined this evening is a policy of grass. There was no room for anything else in the country. There was no hope for tillage. There was no hope for milk. There was no hope for pigs or bacon production. The only solution he had was to produce more beef and send it to England. The Minister may believe in that policy. I do not. I believe in the policy of sending beef to England but I do not agree with the manner in which the Minister states it should be produced.
If we are going to send beef to England we can send it for the 12 months round but, first of all, we have to increase our live-stock population— the number of cows. That gives rise to a question. If you increase the number of cows, what are you going to do with the surplus of milk products? The Minister says he cannot dispose of them, that he tried one method and that it was a failure, that he lost money to the Exchequer in doing it. He failed to get a market that was at his door for chocolate crumb. He has confessed failure as far as that is concerned.
The other method is that of producing beef from tillage. I will deal with that matter later. Tillage, in this country, must have a basis of income for the farmer. There must be some crop at least for which be is guaranteed a price. Wheat is the natural crop to guarantee. The production of wheat or its cost of production has no effect on other agricultural products. It does not matter what is paid for wheat, it does not affect the price that you get for beef, milk, mutton or bacon. It is consumed only by human beings. You can subsidise it for that  purpose. You can guarantee a price to the farmer. The farmer must have some guarantee that if he ploughs a field he will get a price for what he grows there. Wheat is the only crop that you can guarantee. It is wise policy to guarantee wheat. That has been proved over the years. It was proved from 1932 to 1939. It was proved during the war period that if we had not our own wheat there was no possibility of getting wheat from outside. Having regard to present world conditions, is it wise policy to drive the people away from wheat?
The Minister was very vocal this evening about the slight reduction there was in the acreage under wheat this year. There is a substantial reduction. I hope the figures given by the Minister will not be like the figures he gave on a motion here last November when he was asked about the unmillable wheat in the country. However, it was wrong policy to cut the price of wheat because there is no market for malting barley outside. If we are unable or unwilling to produce more beer, stout and whiskey than we are producing at the present time, that market is limited to about 120,000 acres. Sufficient barley can be produced from that acreage to supply all the needs of our maltsters, distillers and brewers. Regarding the market for feeding barley here we are up against the same problem as exists in the case of wheat.
The Minister's slogan is buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest. How can we sell in the dearest market if we do not buy in the cheapest? That is his theory. It is a good theory but, unfortunately, it cannot be altogether applied to this country. If the Minister is serious in guaranteeing to the farmer the price that he has already stater he was prepared to guarantee, that is, £2 per barrel for feeding barley, is he buying in the cheapest? Is it not possible for him to go to Iraq and buy feeding barley at £23 per ton? If our Irish farmer is providing conditions for grinding it would cost at least £24.
Mr. Walsh: It is so to the extent that the subsidy is being taken away from the farmer. The farmer is going to lose 12/6 per barrel in the coming year. The farmer is the sufferer because the Minister is prepared to subsidise feeding barley for animals and he is not prepared to subsidise wheat. Which is the more important? Which was the more important in 1939-46, animal food or human food? Is it not far more important to see that the wheat growers of this country are encouraged to grow more wheat? Is it not far more important from every point of view? If grain growing is to be subsidised is it not wheat that must and should be subsidised? But the Minister next year is prepared to subsidise barley to be fed to animals.
Mr. Walsh: The wheat is being thrown into the dustbin. It is a good thing to grow our full requirements of barley. I have always advocated and encouraged that and I still do. Every pound of barley that we need should be grown in this country, but I say it is wrong to subsidise barley growing at the expense of the wheat growers. The Minister last year was left a fund to pay for barley. I have a document on the subject——
Mr. Walsh: When the Minister wae referring to the wheat prices in this House and when he was arranging the price I am sure he had reference to the bad harvest with which the people had to contend last year and that he knew what the people had suffered. But he did not know what they lost or at least if he did he did not tell the people or tell this House. The Minister came into this House and said that the total quantity of unmillable wheat produced in this country last year was in the neighbourhood of 3 per cent. of the total.
Mr. Walsh: We will accept any statement the Minister makes or any excuse he may give. Last year we grew 486,000 acres of wheat and the Department's estimate was one ton per acre, so that we had 488,000 tons—the average per acre, as a matter of fact, was 1.1 ton. I put a question to the Taoiseach some time ago asking tot this information and he gave it to me. On the same date I asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce the quantity of wheat purchased by the millers and their agents this year and he gave me a figure. His figure was 393,000 tons.
Now, if the Department's estimate as given by the Taoiseach was correct at 488,000 tons and only 393,000 tons reached the mills up to the 12th March last, I wonder what became of the other 95,000 tons of miUable wheat. To where did it disappear? Nobody heard of its leaving the country. I have not heard of it, but the Minister did say when making his introductory speech this evening that it was his duty to be truthful to the people and to the House. Was he truthful when he said only 3 per cent. of the wheat was rejected, when he must have known at the time that up to 20 per cent. had been rejected?
I come from a good wheat-growing country myself. I have a fairly good idea of what was rejected, and my area was no worse than any other area  throughout the country. If the Minister is going to be truthful to the people of the country and to this House he must not try to deceive, but I say it wag deception to come into the House and through it to tell the people of the country that only 3 per cent. of the wheat was rejected. Another matter I should like to raise is the question of loans. The Minister has now transferred his responsibility for the issuing of loans for machinery, and for fertilisers I presume, to the Agricultural Credit Corporation.
The Minister knows as well as I do how difficult it is to get money from these people. We had the Dungarvan experience. The Minister knows very well that this transfer of the responsibility for the issuing of loans to the Agricultural Credit Corporation is tantamount to saying to the farmers of the country: “You are not going to get any money.” It would be far more decent if the Minister had said: “We are going to abolish loans for machinery.” It was reported in the Press that only a sum of £28,000 was issued by the Department of Agriculture last year under this scheme. I do not know who is responsible for such a statement, but I read it in one of the papers. It was also suggested, I think this time by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, that this was not a departmental scheme.
“The Minister for Agriculture (hereinafter referred to as the Minister) is prepared to consider applications from persons engaged in agricultural production for loans for the purchase of agricultural implements and machinery (including milking machines) costing over £40 each. Application for a loan must-be made on Form 245 (b). (Loans for the purchase of agricultural implements  and machinery costing up to £40 each may be obtained under scheme No. 18, particulars of which may be obtained from the Department.) The maximum loan under this scheme shall not exceed £1,000. Loans will not be granted for the purchase of imported machines and implements if home manufactured machines and implements of the same type are available, nor will loans be given for the purchase of secondhand machines and implements. The applicant for a loan (hereinafter referred to as the applicant) shall forward to the offices of the Department, with the application, the vendor's quotation for the supply of the implement and/or machinery to be purchased, together with one-eighth of the price of the implement and/or machinery and the necessary legal fees (see clause II) in connection with the agreement and guarantee referred to in Clause 6 of this scheme. In the case of every application approved by the Minister——”
Mark you, “approved by the Minister”. So it was actually a Department scheme which had no connection whatever with the Agricultural Credit Corporation only in so far as the Agricultural Credit Corporation acted as the agent. That was the only connection that the Agricultural Credit Corporation had with this scheme. The Minister and Deputies on all sides of the House know how difficult it is to obtain money from that organisation; they are so conservative that there is no possibility of their advancing over £1. Why, a letter of approval from them would be a passport to any bank in the country. If you once got through the Agricultural Credit Corporation you could get all the money you need in any bank in the country. The criticism I have to make is that the Government set out to mislead the people in connection with these loans. The suggestion was that it was going to be made easier for them to deal with the Agricultural Credit Corporation. It was also suggested that in the past no such sums were paid out by the Department of Agriculture. Now last year there was a sum of over  £300,000 paid out for the purchase of agricultural machinery. In 1953-54, the exact sum was £327,797 paid under that scheme alone.
There was another scheme. As we all know, not a quarter enough lime and fertilisers are being used. Possibly there are many reasons for their non-use. One reason is that the farmers may not be educated as to their value. Another reason may be that the farmers cannot afford to invest money in lime and fertilisers. Now, last year, I introduced a scheme —I admit it was introduced rather late in the month of February—to help people who were anxious to use fertilisers, who could not get credit and had not the cash to pay for them. I hoped at the time that scheme would become a permanent feature of our agricultural policy. I think the present Minister is wrong in not making the scheme a permanent one.
The scheme should start in the month of November. There is an abatement in every month from September up to February and the fanner could get the benefit of that abatement. He could also get the trade discount and save 10/- or 12/- per ton on the price of his fertilisers. He could repay the loan at the end of the harvest or at the end of the milk season the following year. It would be a short term loan, and it would guarantee more widespread use of lime and fertilisers and we would, in time, reap the benefit in getting good dividends from the land.
I think it was foolish of the Minister to hand that scheme over to the Agricultural Credit Corporation. That in tantamount to putting it into a dead hand. On that scheme alone last year £60,000 was advanced. Probably more would have been advanced had the scheme started earlier in the previous November.
There is then the replacement of stock scheme. I take it that also will be handed ovor to the Agricultural Credit Corporation. Three schemes have been handed over. That is bad policy because it is tantamount to telling the people that they will not get any more money.
Mr. Dillon: I can assure Deputy Walsh this will not make the slightest difference to the availability of loans under the schemes, if he wants that assurance, but I do not think he does. I think he wants to blackguard me.
Mr. Walsh: If the Minister has not had the experience that many Deputies here have had, possibly it is quite legitimate for him to talk as he does but there are Deputies here who can tell the Minister exactly the opposite of what he has said.
Mr. Walsh: I do not know if that is good policy. Is it good policy to offer unlimited grants to people? I think £30 per acre was a princely gift to any farmer to reclaim his land. It was a very generous offer from the State. If we are to have no limitation on the amount of money for land reclamation I do not know where we will get to in the end. I can see one thing happening straightaway. I can see the price per acre going up. It is bound to go up  under the B scheme. I have seen land that might be regarded as marginal being reclaimed; at first there was objection because it was said it would cost too much and no contractors would undertake it. When we refused to give way the contractors came to the conclusion that they could still earn money and they went in and did the land. I think it is wrong for the Minister to take the ceiling off the £30 per acre.
With the best will in the world his officials, particularly his field officials, may not estimate enough because they may not be able to get the work done on their estimates once the contractor knows there is no limitation to the amount that will be spent. That places the farmer who wants his land reclaimed in a very invidious position because he will have to go to the contractor and make a private deal. That has happened before and it will happen again, particularly now that there is no limitation. The amount of marginal land left as a result of contractors not being able to go in and do the work at £42 10s. per acre—that is, £30 grant and £12 10s. from the farmer—is very very small. Any farmer who has three or four acres which might not be done if there was a limitation on the amount of money could easily leave that three or four acres out and the profit he receives of £10, £15 or £20 should enable him to spend a little more on the three or four acres himself. Under the A scheme he could get a grant for the reclamation of those three or four acres. It is bad policy to take the ceiling off the £30.
I am glad the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary have forgotten the grievance they voiced against me when I suggested the land reclamation machinery should be disposed of and sold to contractors. The Minister must have lost a handful of hair that evening because he was so vexed at my attitude in disposing of the machinery. Now apparently he is perfectly satisfied we did a good job of work in disposing of it. Since its disposal, more land has been reclaimed at a cheaper rate than was reclaimed when the  Department was responsible for it. It is obvious now to everybody that it was the right and proper thing to dispose of the machinery and get the work done by contractors. That has saved money because the people who purchased the machinery were prepared to work harder and for longer hours to earn a livelihood and, possibly, were prepared also to do with a little less profit.
Land reclamation under that scheme made progress. Last year we did 100,000 acres. I think something like 77,000 acres were done under the A scheme and almost 24,000 under the B scheme. The Minister did say that he had reclaimed 101,000 last year—I am not too sure that he gave us the figure but I thought he mentioned 101,000 for something. However, as far as I know, it has been going pretty well, but I did criticise the Minister when he brought in his Supplementary Estimate and said that he was short and that he was not able to spend the £123,000. If I did that when I was Minister for Agriculture I would be told I was wrecking the scheme if I did not spend the £123,000. I am not going to accuse the Minister of that. It was too great a pet of his for the Minister to come along and wreck it. He would like to boost it as much as he could and he would not deliberately try to wreck it. But the Minister made the excuse that we had very bad weather in the autumn and winter and consequently he was not able to do the amount of work that would use up all the money.
I could have had as an excuse last year that when we were selling the machinery from January until March it was idle for about three months because it was not used once it was advertised and did no further work. But we succeeded in spending all the money that was there and in fact we could have spent a little more. If the Minister does 100,000 acres every year on the £2,400,000 as he said, he will be doing a good job and I will not be the one who will criticise him. I am very glad that I was right in what I did and that I now have the Minister's approval for the sale of the machinery in 1953.
The Minister has mentioned the parish plan which he is going to introduce. I am glad the Minister is able to get the personnel to implement the parish plan. I was never opposed to it. Peculiarly enough—the Minister may not know it—but not merely was there a three-parish plan but there is a creamery in County Cork where I sanctioned the appointment of one man for a parish, and was very pleased to do so because I think it was an experiment we should carry out in this country; to have the people of such bodies as co-operative societies get together and get in their own man to do the advisory work they will save the State money. What I do object to in the parish plan is that direction is coming direct from the Department of Agriculture without any reference to the county committees of agriculture.
Why did the Minister embark on that departure? What is the reason for it? Is it true that the county committees of agriculture are not giving satisfaction? Is that the reason why the Minister will not trust them with his parish plan? The people on the county committees of agriculture are as anxious as anybody else is to get all the services they can. They want to benefit by all the technical services that can be given in every county but it is the system and the principle that is involved that is being objected to. That is the real objection at the present time.
It cannot be said that I in any way withheld technical services from the people during my time. I encouraged them in every possible way I could te employ more people and the reason that more could not be employed was that they were not there. There was a certain number coming out of the universities each year—I think about 14 or 15 graduated in one particular year. Now that an improvement has taken place we will have more in the future. I remember some five or six  years ago how two agricultural scholarships went a-begging in my own county for two years because no one was there to take them up, the reason being that parents were not sending their children into the agricultural schools or advising them to do agricultural subjects in the universities on the scholarships.
That attitude has changed now to a great extent over the past three or four years and we will have the personnel. I think it will be available by 1956 or 1957. We will have a sufficient number of graduates to provide one to three parishes. Until such time as that we will not have sufficient to send them round. I think one committee is pretty well catered for already, that is, Carlow. I think they must have nearly one for each four parishes, if not for three.
There is no objection and I saw no objection and Fianna Fáil saw no objection to this plan which would enable counties to get as much technical service as it was possible to give. My belief is that one man to 1,000 if it were possible would be sufficient. I think that is the number they have in Boherbue in County Cork. The great objection I have to the parish plan as envisaged by the Minister is that the control is now taken away from the committees of agriculture and vested in the Department of Agriculture solely and the direction comes from the Department down to their employees in the counties directing them what services they are to render. If the employees were under the control of the committees of agriculture they would take instructions from the committees of agriculture and would be paid half the amount of their salaries by the committees, and in that way would be employees of theirs.
A scheme that I have not heard anything about and to which the Minister made no reference in his statement is the demonstration plots scheme. In 1953 the Government permitted me to use a certain sum of money to demonstrate the use of fertilisers and lime— I think it was something in the neighbourhood of about £35,000. Unless that scheme was continued, very little value  would be derived from the expenditure of that £35,000. The Minister has not stated whether these plots are to be continued or not.
Another matter that was not dealt with at all was the provision of grain storage. The Minister has talked about the acreage of oats and the acreage of barley for next year, but I do not know who is going to buy it. The Minister has mentioned for instance the oatmeal millers. They are fat buyers—20,000 tons out of a possible 560,000 tons would be sufficient to keep these people quiet; 20,000 tons would be ample for all the oatmeal millers in the country. Where are the other buyers or what other market is to be found and what provision has the other market made to dry and store this oats when it is sold? Does the Minister realise—I am sure he does— that all the cereal crops to a very large extent at the present time are cash crops?
The Minister has a policy which is a good one, but very difficult to put in practice and that is to walk the barley and oats off the farm. All farmers cannot do that. We must have regard to the farmers living in the tillage areas where there is no tradition of beef or anything like that. Provision must be made for them to dispose of their corn crops. There are no prices, no markets, no provision for storage or drying that I have heard of at the present time. The same thing applies to a very great extent in regard to barley. Barley will be produced this year to a greater extent than last year. Has the Minister made any provision for this barley to be dried and stored? Who is going to bear the expense, and will it be borne by the feeders or the producers? I understand the price suggested by the Minister already is about £2 per barrel, but if the farmer does not find a market at harvest time it will cost about £4 or £4 10s. to store and dry and pay the other incidental expenses attached to storage from then until the following March or April. Who is going to bear that cost? Will it be borne by the pig feeder and the poultry producer or the person who is producing  milk and beef? These are things which we would like to know.
Mr. Walsh: I would like to tell the Minister I introduced a similar scheme. He has the bones of the scheme in his Department and I have never suggested a scheme or given the bones of a scheme in that Department that the Department officials were not able to put flesh on it.
Mr. Walsh: It certainly did not co6t the Minister £200,000. If the Minister I wants the figures as on the day I left the Department he will get them. There was no loss; as a matter of fact there was a good credit balance on the day I left the Department.
Mr. Walsh: Whoever disposed of it, it was there. The Minister can tap any files he likes. I will tap the files and produce the figures as far as I was concerned. I had them up to 31st May regarding that same scheme. But I would like to know from the Minister-what provision is to be made in that connection. Is the farmer who produces feeding barley this year and wants to dispose of it in September or October, sure now that he will find a market straightaway for his barley? Can the Minister guarantee that a market will be readily available for that feeding barley on the day the farmer threshes? It is very easy for the Minister to talk about the oatmeal millers. It is great propaganda when he goes down the country; when he is speaking to the people who do not know how much oats the oatmeal millers need. You can deceive them for a while until they go to sell their oats next year. But I am telling the  people now the quantity of oats the oatmeal millers need. They will be doing very well if they buy 20,000 tons although we will have something like 560,000 tons.
The same thing applies to barley. In 1953 when I introduced a scheme to ourchase barley we purchased 45,000 tons in that year at a price of 48/- per barrel and we were able to sell barley and maize at £27 a ton to the pig feeder; we were able to store the 45,000 tons all during the winter and pay the people for storing it. And the pig feeder was able to make a profit out of that barley that was purchased at 48/-. What guarantee has he now that he will make a profit even at the £2 if he buys that barley? There is no guarantee that he will.
That 45,000 tons of barley was finished some time in May and when some Deputy asked a question in this House as to why we were importing barley I said it was in order to keep the people barley-minded but these people opposite did not understand the position. Now I believe they understand, when the American maize is purchased and we have the bacon going into the British market to be rejected and sold at lower prices. I call that Just bad administration, nothing else.
The Minister has stated that the 1951 Pig Agreement with Britain expires next year. What provision is he making for our people to hold their place in the British market when that agreement expires. Is it going to be a free for all then, among the Dutch, the British, the Danes and ourselves t I am speaking the truth—and it is not. to please or displease people I speak the truth; while I was on those benches over there I always spoke the truth—when I tell the Minister and the people that unless a change takes place and greater regard is had to the quality of bacon we are producing, then it is not priced out of the British market we shall be but driven out of it. I had adopted the system that, in time, would have educated the people to hold our place in that market by producing a better quality bacon. The Minister has discarded it.
Mr. Walsh: We imported barley for that purpose. This evening the Minister stood up and said we would not have to import barley in future and we would not have to import oats in future. I would like to tell the Minister that so far as malting barley was concerned, during my term of office not one pound of malting barley and not one pound of feeding oats came into the country, although the Minister and many of the Deputies sitting on the benches behind him have gone around the country telling the people we imported barley and oats. There was no malting barley and no feeding oats imported in that period. There was a quantity of seed oats and a quantity of feeding barley imported. I suggest to the Minister now that he would be far better employed importing barley than milo maize. Milo maize is inferior in quality to River Plate.
Mr. Walsh: I say it is inferior in quality to the South African, the Russian or the American maize. You are not going to get the same fattening results and you are not going to get the quality production that we must get if we are to hold our place in the British market.
Mr. Walsh: It is not a question of price in this case, it is a question of quality, the quality of the product. It would be no use to get milo maize for nothing if you were not able to sell the produce fed with that milo maize. It is the quality of the bacon we produce which we should have principally in mind. It would not matter if we produced 100,000 tons of bacon to-morrow morning if it was of such a quality that Irish people or English people would not buy it.
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