20th June 2015
ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch has said that it is vital that the vulnerability of Irish beef is recognised in any trade deal and that this is reflected in limiting tariff rate quotas while also securing access to the US for Irish manufacturing beef.
Speaking at an information seminar on Irish opposition to TTIP hosted by Matt Carthy MEP in Dublin today, Mr. Punch went on to say that trade deals cannot be all about the interests of multi-nationals. “When we joined the Common Market in 1973, farmers typically got up to 75% of the final retail price, but nowadays it’s more like 30-40%. The panacea of access to markets has been somewhat illusory. Of course, without access to 27 other EU member states we would be far worse off, but what is pertinent to this discussion is that the benefits of unfettered free trade do not cascade down equally or fairly to the primary producer,” he said.
He repeated the ICSA call for regulation of the profit margins enjoyed by multinational retailers, saying that “ICSA believes that we must have transparency around how the profits from key products like beef, lamb and dairy are shared between farmers, processors and retailers.”
Mr. Punch said that action to protect the beef sector was particularly important to Ireland, given the vital importance of suckler farming in this country.
“The brunt of any increased competitive pressure will be carried inordinately by EU suckler herds, as acknowledged by the Commission’s own analysis, and in this, Ireland, Spain, France and the UK are most affected. None can compare with the vulnerability of Ireland with 1 million suckler cows – as many sucklers as dairy cows.”
“There is clearly a need for a substantial campaign against the elements of a deal which are not in the interests of Irish agriculture, and for wider civil society and sectoral representatives to shout as loud as possible before it is too late,” concluded Mr. Punch.