IFA President Eddie Downey said farmers will be deeply suspicious about the absence of any sectoral analysis of the TTIP deal by Copenhagen Economics, which has been commissioned by the Department of Jobs and Enterprise. He expressed serious concern about the early conclusions, saying there were real risks for Irish agriculture. Unfortunately, what we have seen so far is strong on optimism, but short on supporting facts.
He said, “The findings of the report, which have not been made available publicly, are very broad and there appears to be a complete lack of any detailed sectoral analysis. It suggests that the beef and dairy sectors would suffer, but this would be compensated for by an increase in processing output. This is shocking and confirms IFA’s position that primary agricultural output would suffer, with the potential loss of thousands of jobs in rural Ireland”.
Eddie Downey warned that Irish beef and dairy producers have no interest in producing cheaper raw material for the processing sector. Minister Coveney needs to challenge the report’s findings.
He said the Irish Government and EU negotiators must ensure that the unique standards and production systems that apply on Irish and EU family farms are not compromised in these discussions.
In a meeting with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Dublin, IFA President Eddie Downey had an open and frank discussion on the real concerns of Irish farmers over the US demands for increased volumes of US beef imports in the TTIP trade negotiations. “Equivalence of standards and end-use control of quotas will have to be strict criteria”.
Agriculture cannot become the sacrificial lamb in the EU/US trade negotiations, according to Mr Downey, who said Minister Coveney and our Government must be very strong and forthright in defending the interests of Irish farmers.
The IFA President said Minister Coveney’s focus of opening the US market to Irish beef and lamb is very welcome, but cannot come at too high a price on US beef imports, which have the potential to seriously damage the Irish beef sector.
In addition, Eddie Downey said Minister Coveney must also make it abundantly clear to Secretary Vilsack that Irish and European consumers will not accept any US beef produced with the use of hormones and anabolic growth additives such as ractopamine, substances banned as unsafe in the European Union.
Eddie Downey said Minister Coveney has to insist that there can be no imports from the US which fail to meet EU standards on the key issues of traceability, food safety and environmental standards. “Minister Coveney must make it clear that these are red line issues for Ireland and the EU in the TTIP negotiations.”