Irish farmers’ concerns have been raised with the European Commission, at a meeting held in Ireland.
At a meeting in Dublin with Catherine Day, the Secretary General of the EU Commission, IFA President Eddie Downey has raised a number of the main concerns of Irish farmers, including trade deals with Brazil and the US, and what farmers feel is excessive EU bureaucracy.
Irish farmers strongly reject the way the European Commission is using agriculture as its main bargaining chip in bilateral trade negotiations. “IFA is demanding that there is no repeat of the massive access granted to Canada in the talks with Brazil and the US,” said the IFA President, following the meeting.
As the largest net beef exporter in the Northern Hemisphere, the potential damage to the Irish beef sector, from the current negotiations with the US and Mercusor, is very serious, according to Mr Downey. He said the livelihoods of thousands of farm families, jobs and exports are all on the line in these negotiations.
Eddie Downey said the IFA is very concerned that the EU Commission are about to exchange offers with Brazil on market access. He accused the Commission of having no real strategy on the trade negotiations and it appears they are willing to sacrifice agriculture, and particularly the beef sector, just to conclude a deal at any cost. The Commission would be showing a very weak hand to proceed to exchange an offer with Brazil when the TTIP talks with the US are intensifying, he said.
On the subject of EU bureaucracy, the IFA President said there had to be a change to the approach to farm inspections, which has led to fear and stress on farm families.
“I am demanding a new Charter of Farmers’ Rights that treats farmers with respect. This means realistic notice of all farm inspections, a yellow-card system and proper tolerances for minor infringements before any penalties are imposed.”