Seanad debates

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

2:30 pm

Photo of Marc MacSharryMarc MacSharry (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I second the amendment put forward by Senator Mooney and agree with his sentiments in regard to the yellow-pack salaries being paid to new teachers, gardaí and nurses.

I appreciate time is short in terms of the end of the current Administration, but I call for a debate on agriculture as soon as possible within the next fortnight. As Members are aware, a variety of issues face farming families throughout the country and today one of the farming organisations is lobbying in the vicinity of the House.

There is an issue in particular in regard to anti-competitive practices and those in Border counties are particularly aware of this. As a result of these practices, the export of cattle to Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom is impeded. Between currency exchange rates and the lower prices factories are prepared to pay here, the price for cattle north of the Border is 82 cent more per kilo than here. We are exporting weanlings to Italy, Tunisia and other countries, but we cannot sell our animals just a couple of miles across the Border where there are buyers and there is demand and where the benefit would be a greater yield and return to farming families throughout this country. This issue needs to be examined as it is an anti-competitive practice.

Other issues of concern include the reduced competition in terms of processors. With respect to all those involved in processing, it seems that the well known Slaney and Irish Country Meats plant at Camolin is set to merge with one of the larger players. I am not sure this best serves the industry as a whole, processors themselves or farming families throughout the country. It would be useful to consider these issues in advance of the general election. Clearly, agricultural issues will be matters of debate for people seeking to be elected to the Dáil as farmers are putting these on the agenda. We could assist that process and assist the pursuit of a better regime for farmers, processors and consumers by debating the issue in this House.


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