EU reform costing beet growers €150m

Beet growers are losing €150m due to the European Union’s reform of the sugar market, new research has revealed.

Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Padraig Walshe said the country’s 3,700 growers who will lose their livelihoods must be compensated by the EU.

“It is now a matter of political will to determine the allocation of the €145m of EU funds available to Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan,” Mr Walshe said.

The study, carried out by Deloitte Financial Advisers, on behalf of the IFA, showed sugar beet production will be a loss-making enterprise from 2007/2008 onwards due to the impact of the reform decisions.

The IFA’s president said he would be meeting with the minister alongside beet growers’ representatives tomorrow morning to ask for an immediate decision to ease the trauma on beet growers as they contemplate what actions to take next season.

Mr Walshe urged Ms Coughlan to relieve the pressure on farm families by announcing full compensation for farmers immediately.

There is a diversification fund in place for farmers which provides compensation of €43.5m. But Mr Walshe said this leaves a deficit of over €106m to be made up by the restructuring fund.

Mr Walshe said: “Beet growing has been the most profitable tillage crop and the country’s growers have been devastated, first by the closure of the Carlow factory and secondly by the Brussels decision last November to shut down sugar beet growing in Ireland.”

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