Addressing farmers who protested outside the EU Ministerial meeting on trade taking place in Dublin Castle today (Thurs), IFA Deputy President Eddie Downey said trade deals must not be allowed damage our important agricultural sector, and particularly our beef, pigs and poultry sectors.
“The current bi-lateral negotiations between the EU and Canada and trade talks with the US are on the agenda at today’s meeting. Both Irish and European negotiators need to be extremely careful that agriculture is not sacrificed in these negotiations, and that our meats and dairy sectors, which underpins total agricultural economic output of over €20bn, are not placed in the firing line.”
The IFA Deputy President said in view of the high sensitivity of EU markets for beef, pigmeat and poultry to imports, the EU must rule out any significant increase in imports in these sensitive product areas.
Eddie Downey said the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Trade Minister Richard Bruton need to be very strong to ensure the real concerns of Irish agriculture are not brushed aside in the EU drive to secure bi-lateral deals with Canada and the US. “It is clear Canada is seeking access for a substantial volume of beef imports into the EU and there is no doubt the USA will be seeking a major increase in the volumes they already have on the valuable EU market.”
The IFA Deputy President said it is unacceptable that the EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht is ready to inflict severe damage on the Irish and European livestock sector with a substantial increase in beef imports from an EU-Canada trade deal. He said Commissioner de Gucht cannot be allowed to negotiate in a similar, damaging way in the EU-US negotiations.
Eddie Downey said European producers and consumers will not accept imports from production systems where the use of hormones in beef, BST growth promoters in milk and the beta-agonist drug ractopamine in cattle and pigs – all banned in Europe – is common practice. “Europe cannot agree to any imports which fail to meet EU standards on the critical issues of food safety, traceability, environmental protection and animal welfare.”
IFA Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said any increase in beef imports into the European Union will have very damaging economic, environmental and social consequences across rural communities in Ireland and Western Europe that depend on livestock production for their livelihoods.
IFA Pigs and Pigmeat Committee Chairman Pat O’Flaherty warned that any significant increase in market access for Canadian pigmeat will put Irish and European pigmeat producers out of business.