President of IFA, John Bryan was in Longford last week to advocate a Yes vote in this week’s Fiscal Stability Treaty Referendum.
The President said that it would be remiss of Ireland to vote against it and highlighted the importance of being part of Europe in terms of its potential for employment and export growth in Ireland in the years ahead.
“The balance for supply and demand is swinging in our favour,” Mr Bryan explained, adding that as the world population continues to grow, so too does the demand for food. “One of the biggest constraints at the moment is on water; there is serious demand for it and while China has a plan to feed its population and is buying produce from Ireland, it is sucking food supply from the world markets through its purchase of large dairy farms in America, New Zealand and Australia. 40 percent of the world’s food is produced through irrigation, so it’s to do with either rainfall or irrigation and as you all know, rainfall doesn’t exist in some parts of the world.”
Mr Bryan went on to say that it “wasn’t by accident” that the price of meat had risen in recent times and once again pointed to supply and demand in respect of the outcome. “While supply and demand is going in the right direction, we are going to need Europe when we need to put the pressure on to stop trade deals,” the IFA President added. “With regards to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) it is imperative that everyone understands that negotiations in relation to its budgets have not begun yet, and some countries are net contributors while others are net beneficiaries. Three groups have a say in relation to it and they include The European Commission, The European parliament and the heads of State. The whole debate – at the moment – centres around getting the heads of State to sit down and discuss it. Angela Merkel has indicated that she will get into discussion on the matter early next year and Ireland is up for the presidency as well. We need to keep the pressure on to sort CAP and Merkel needs to get a good deal, early on because she is facing election herself in 2013.”
The meeting heard that the 30 percent payment towards ‘Greening’ was not viable and that cross compliance, bureaucracy and new regulations were all issues that IFA would take to Europe in the coming months. “Farmers need to be lobbying hard, backbenchers and MEPS are the people to lobby in respect of these issues because I can tell you this; it all boils down to getting a group of countries, collectively, to bring about the necessary changes”, the IFA President added. There are 27 members States and every one of them has an issue with ‘Greening’, so I would be hopeful that there will be a positive outcome to that issue.”
Mr Bryan also pointed out that it was costing €50b per year to run the Irish economy and there was a deficit of between €16 and €18b. “There will be more tough budgets in Ireland in the next couple of years and that is the reality of it,” he added. “We have asked the Department not to target the most vulnerable within the sector by “cutting schemes”. “Agriculture is worth €25b to the economy and €9b in exports and what matters now is jobs and exports and agriculture has a major role to play in that. Farmers in Ireland have a better understanding of Europe than most people because all the regulations that we don’t like come from there. For the sake of cash advancement and getting funding, IFA says vote Yes to this treaty.”