A MAJORITY of graduates working in the agriculture and food industry believe that a Yes vote in the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is in Ireland’s best interests, according to the results of a survey published yesterday.
The survey was conducted among members of the Agricultural Science Association (ASA), the professional body for graduates working in all areas of the agri-food sector.
It shows that over 95% of the respondents are convinced that a Yes vote is critical to Ireland’s economic interests.
Also, three out of four of those surveyed feel that the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in the 2008 referendum has impacted negatively on Ireland’s reputation in Europe.
Asked about the impact of the cuts already imposed on agriculture and those proposed in the Bord Snip Nua report, almost 75% of the responding graduates said Irish farming could not sustain these cutbacks.
A big majority identified the closure of REPS 4 as the measure that would have the most negative impact.
Almost 90% said the power of the supermarkets could lead to the demise of local food production in Ireland, while almost 40% felt that Ireland does not live up to “Ireland – the Food Island” brand image.
However, the vast majority (94%) are confident the Irish agri-food sector has a viable long-term future.
Three-quarters of those surveyed felt that the single farm payment has been positive for the Irish agri-food sector.
A significant majority said that retaining the national envelope of some €1.5 billion should be the key priority for our negotiators in the discussions on the next reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
ASA president Elaine Farrell, welcoming the strong support by graduates for the Lisbon Treaty, said it is urging all its members to play an active part in ensuring a Yes vote in the referendum.
“ASA members work in every aspect of the industry and have a unique feel for the pulse of farming, food and rural issues.
“The results of this survey demonstrate the grave concern that exists regarding the impact of the recent cutbacks on the agricultural sector,” she said.
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