IRELAND - The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) president Patrick Kent has said that Irish and European politicians who favour free trade deals need to pay close attention to the lessons of the US election result.
Donald Trump was elected today to become US President from January after a promise not to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and to come down hard on violations of existing trade agreements.
Some farming organisations supported the TPP, with the Japanese market providing a particular incentive for the beef industry to back the deal. For others, the deal was less welcome, with many echoing the concerns of Patrick Kent that free trade agreements are "pandering to big business".
Mr Kent explained his objections: “Free trade at the expense of thousands of livelihoods is now reaping its own reward. There is a salutary lesson here for those who think that EU beef farmers can be sacrificed with successive deals on CETA, TTIP and Mercosur. Neither the EU Commission nor its politicians have a mandate to sell out the EU beef sector for apparent gains for multinational corporations.”
“ICSA is ramping up its campaign against hundreds of thousands of tons of cheap beef flooding EU markets which is what will happen if we keep trying to do unbalanced trade deals.
"Meanwhile, we are travelling the world trying to find new markets for beef and sheep, so far with minimal success, and almost all in locations where beef and lamb prices are lower than in Europe. Yet we are conceding ground recklessly in trying to do trade deals to allow more and more imports of cheap beef from all over the world which will undermine an already fragile beef price in Europe.”
“The pandering to big business has got to stop. The EU Commission and all EU and national politicians need to stop looking for excuses and get tough with multinational retailers, food and drink processors and input suppliers who, between them, are driving our beef, sheep and tillage farmers to despair and over the edge.”
Mr Kent suggested the election shows that ordinary people want change and politicians have to "shap up very quickly" to provide it.
TheCattleSite News Desk