IFA criticises EU's stance at world trade talks


JOINT OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE:IRISH FARMING faces the most fundamental threat to its viability as a result of the European Union (EU) position at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations in Geneva, a Dáil committee has been told.

Speaking to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, deputy president of the Irish Farmer’s Association (IFA), Derek Deane, described EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson as “a failed negotiator” and said that he has shamefully and blatantly reneged on the previous solemn commitment in relation to the Common Agricultural Policy from Franz Fischler.

He claimed that Mr Mandelson is engaged in a race to the bottom, to the lowest standards of food safety, animal welfare and the environment.

Mr Deane welcomed recent comments by Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith on the importance of agriculture and said that agriculture and food remained Ireland’s most important indigenous industry.

The IFA position enjoyed broad support among the committee, though a discordant note was struck when Eamon Scanlon (Fianna Fáil) criticised the IFA’s stance on the Lisbon Treaty and suggested that it played a part in the defeat of the treaty.

However, Mr Deane rejected this saying: “We are satisfied that 75 per cent of IFA members backed the treaty . . . ”

He said that the IFA fears a WTO backed 70 per cent cut in beef tariffs would lower cattle prices in Ireland to “a completely unsustainable level of €2 per kilo”.

Mr Deane welcomed the French opposition to the Mandelson position but warned: “Mandelson will not give up lightly and 21st July is D-Day for Irish farming.”