Warning over WTO Deal

IRELAND - Irish farmers believe the consequences of a Mandelson deal at the World Trade Organisation negotiations would be the destruction of the Irish beef industry.
calendar icon 22 April 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

Irish farmers protest in Dublin.      Source: Irish Farmers' Association

They claim that it would also mean the loss of jobs and wealth generation in towns and the wider community on an unprecedented scale, with 50,000 jobs being lost in the food industry and services, and a further 50,000 farmers being put out of business.

Addressing a national protest attended by thousands of farmers in Dublin, the Irish Farmers Association President Padraig Walshe said: "The meat factories, marts, co-ops and agri-businesses are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us in this campaign.

"I welcome that support and, of course, they are defending their own interests because, if you shut-down farming, you shut down rural Ireland."

Mr Walshe added: "The Irish beef and dairy industries buy €6 billion worth of goods and services in the economy every year, while the much-lauded pharmaceutical industry by contrast spends only €2 billion. That's a third of the contribution of the beef and dairy industries alone.

"The Lisbon Treaty Referendum is on the 12 June, but for farmers, the referendum decision comes on the 20 May. That's the date Mandelson will be in Geneva and he has a decision to make: Sell us out and we'll have our say on the 12 June.

"At our AGM in January, I said IFA had no problem with the Treaty and I would recommend a YES vote. Since then, Mandelson has completely undermined our position and I want to put it on the record today: If the sell out goes ahead on the 20 May in Geneva, then I will not ask farmers to support a Commission that has destroyed the future of our farming and food industry. That is my clear message to President Barroso who is attending the Forum on Europe at Dublin Castle.

"That is also my clear message to the Irish Government: Don't come back from Geneva having sold us out and expect farm families, thousands of workers in the food industry that will lose their jobs,hundreds of rural businesses that will have to close down, don't expect us to do your bidding in the Referendum," he concluded.

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