Farming groups say treaty is vital to future prosperity

Wed, May 2, 2012, 01:00

AGRIBUSINESS:THE INTRODUCTION of tighter budgetary rules such as those contained in the fiscal treaty at an earlier stage might have prevented many of the problems currently facing European economies from arising, Kepak managing director John Horgan has said.

Speaking yesterday as members of the farming and agribusiness sectors met in Dublin to advocate a Yes vote in the May 31st referendum, Mr Horgan said a stable euro, which would benefit Irish exporters, was only possible if member states engaged in “good housekeeping” in respect of exchequer funding.

“Failure to self-regulate as member states has meant that we’re here today because we didn’t impose that discipline on ourselves,” he said. “I see [the treaty] as a positive development that, irrespective of what governments will be in place in future, we have a self-imposed discipline that we must run our house the same as we would run our homes and live within our means.”

Groups including the Irish Farmers’ Association and Macra na Feirme and executives from companies such as Glanbia and Connacht Gold told the meeting that ratifying the treaty would be vital in ensuring Ireland kept its influence at EU level.

“Full membership of the EU and a stable euro are vital components for the success of our sector,” IFA president John Bryan said. “The fact that Ireland is the only country holding a referendum means that a strong Yes vote would send a strong vote of confidence in the EU and for Irish membership.”

Mr Bryan said that EU membership had provided Ireland a market of some 500 million people to export into, as well as considerable support for farmers through the Common Agricultural Policy, negotiations on the future of which are to intensify over the coming 12 months.

He said a strong Yes vote would strengthen Ireland’s hand with regard to those negotiations.