‘Sector highly vulnerable to trade deals.’
Sligo News File Online
Pressure is building on Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan to defend the Irish livestock sector in EU trade negotiations with the United States and South America.
President of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association Patrick Kent told Hogan that Irish farmers cannot compete with industrial-scale production units in North or South America and that the livestock sector is “very vulnerable to trade deals, particularly in the context of Brexit.”
“We have to defend EU standards of food production,” he stressed
The chairman of the association’s national sheep committee John Brooks asked Hogan to “guarantee that every effort was made to ensure that the single market functioned effectively for live exports as well as meat exports.”
There must be “no artificial blockages that delay or undermine our ability to export cattle or sheep for further feeding or direct for slaughter where markets in other EU states could offer a real alternative,” he said.
He also submitted it was “not acceptable that UK supermarkets hide behind EU labeling rules to prevent UK farmers from buying Irish
stores and finishing them in the UK.” The elimination of “unnecessary holding periods in the case of sheep exports” was also imperative, he added.
The general secretary of the association Eddie Punch called on Hogan to “open up the food chain to full transparency in terms of who gets what.”
He said, “We need to see what margins are being taken by retailers and processors. What we know is that the primary producer does
not get enough to be viable, but we need all the member states working together with the EU to demand fair play for farmers.”
The ICSA delegation met with Hogan as part of a larger delegation of Irish farmers organised by Sean Kelly, MEP.