Dáil Éireann - Volume 295 - 15 December, 1976

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Farm Modernisation Scheme.

2. Mr. Cronin asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries the proposals made to the EEC Commission by his Department for a revision of the farm modernisation scheme.

Mr. Clinton: Our proposals were put forward in the context of a general review of Directive 159 on which discussions have already commenced and in which all member states and the Commission are participating. As I have indicated on previous occasions, our main concern is to bring more farmers into the development category. At present the identification of development farmers depends on the level of the comparable income and we have accordingly made proposals for alternative approaches to the fixing of the income figure as well as on other matters related to it. Other proposals are designed to make the directive more adaptable and therefore [756] more effective. We have also proposed a higher level of Community financing towards the structural measures.

Mr. Callanan: The Minister is aware that various organisations submitted various ways of changing Directive 159. Would he give any indication of what suggestions were put up by his Department to Brussels, because there are about four different organisations——

Mr. Clinton: The Commission have been fully acquainted of our proposals by the farming organisations and the advisory service in relation to this directive.

Mr. Callanan: I understood that they would process what would be sent and they would then take the best they could, because some of them contradict one another.

Mr. Clinton: We sent our own proposals and we also sent them what was proposed by the other organisations who are interested and concerned in this as well so that they would have a full picture.

Mr. Callanan: I want——

An Ceann Comhairle: Order.

Mr. Callanan: Would the Minister not agree that it would be better to process them here in this country, that that would be the best action, rather than asking Europe to send over maybe two or three programmes? Some of them contradict one another.

Mr. Clinton: It is not just the Irish version they are listening to and looking at. They have every country's version. This is a general review——

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Order.

Mr. Clinton: ——of the experience of the various countries in the course of operating the schemes.

Mr. Leonard: Have the Department any proposals that would take into consideration price increases regarding farm building grants, price increases between the time of approval and completion of the work? At [757] present there are proposals for a massive increase in the price of cement which is going to have a serious effect on all building. Has the Minister any proposals as to whether the grants could be adjusted or re-examined between the date of approval and the date of completion of work?

Mr. Clinton: The grant is a percentage of cost. If the price goes up the percentage goes up as well.

An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 3.

Mr. Leonard: Is the Minister aware that there are increases now in the horticultural section where grants were paid on the cost submitted at the beginning of the scheme rather than at the completion of the scheme? The result was a spiral in cost and those people did not qualify for the additional increase.

Mr. Clinton: I do not see that it would be possible to have this sort of escalation clause in individual contracts for jobs all over the country. I think it could not be administered.