Following this morning’s State of the Union address by Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, IFA President Tim Cullinan said that the comments of Ursula Von der Leyen that the prospects of a Brexit deal was ‘fading away’ were chilling for Irish farmers.
“It is disappointing that the Commission President didn’t follow these remarks with a clear commitment that the EU would support its citizens, and in particular farmers, from the inevitable consequences,” he said.
“Farmers are increasingly concerned that they will be the ones to pay the price of Brexit. It is now clear that the EU needs to set out how it intends to respond to protect the farming sector,” he said.
“The €5bn contingency fund set aside as part of the EU budget is a significant development. However, we need the EU to spell out the specific safety nets it intends to put in place to support farmers,” he said.
“President Von der Leyen recommitted to promoting values and standards in trade deals, but if regulations and standards are not enforced with trade partners, then EU farmers cannot be competitive and will lose out to cheaper, lower standard imports,” he said.
The critical role of farmers as food producers must be considered in any increased ambition by the EU to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030.
“What we are seeing is an auction on target setting where there are ever-increasing pronouncements in Europe and Ireland about new emissions targets without any proper analysis of how this can be achieved or what the economic and other consequences might be,” he said.
“Europe wants to go faster but food security and impact on food production must not be forgotten. The COVID-19 crisis has shown how fragile our food supply chain can be,” he said.
The IFA President said that farmers play an essential role in Europe’s future, whether providing food or sequestering carbon and the EU must ensure this future is protected.