Dáil Éireann - Volume 343 - 14 June, 1983

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Calf Scheme.

20. Mr. Noonan (Limerick West), Mr. H. Byrne and Mr. Kitt asked the Minister for Agriculture if it is his intention to continue the £22 calf scheme this year.

Mr. Hegarty: The Minister secured the continuation of the calf premium scheme for the 1983-84 marketing year at the EEC price talks and also an increase of £1 per head for calves born after 20 November 1982. As Deputies will be aware from newspaper advertisements, application forms covering the scheme have been posted to herd owners.

Mr. H. Byrne: Is it intended that the Minister would increase this £22 calf subsidy [1258] in the light of the fact that a year has passed since it was first introduced, also in the light of the fact that the Farm Modernisation Scheme has been discontinued.

Mr. Hegarty: The increase may not be what the Deputy had in mind but there is a £1 increase. Certainly it does carry——

Mr. Noonan (Limerick West): Is the Minister aware that none of these calf premium payments has yet been made? What proposals has he to speed up these payments?

Mr. Hegarty: Inspection of the 160,000 calves born between 20 May 1982 and 30 June 1982 have been completed. Payments in respect of these calves have commenced and will be completed this month. Inspection of calves born before 15 June 1983 will take place between July and October 1983. Payments on calves born between 1 July 1982 to 31 December 1982 will be made in August 1983, and payments on calves born between 1 January 1983 and 15 June 1983 will commence early in 1984.

Mr. E. O'Keeffe: The Minister stated that the application forms for the 1983 scheme have just been posted or were in the hands of farmers. They are in the hands of farmers but the closing date is Monday 20 June, 1983. Can the Minister say how in God's name farmers can have their applications lodged with the local veterinary offices within that short time? Would the Minister use his good office to have an extension of the deadline in order to save farmers further hardship?

Mr. Hegarty: I will certainly have that considered.

Mr. S. Byrne: The Minister has said that so many thousands of calves have been inspected under the scheme. Is it not true to say that they were spot checks only carried out in the course of that test, that many farmers were not visited at all with the result that some people were paid who did not hold on to their calves while more were penalised?

[1259] Mr. Hegarty: My information is that inspections of 160,000 calves born between 20 May 1982 and 30 June 1982 have been completed.

Mr. S. Byrne: But it was only a spot check.

An Ceann Comhairle: The remaining questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.