ICMSA: Europe needs to protect farm incomes and deliver safe food

EUROPE is on course to undermine its Treaty of Rome commitments to provide its citizens with safe food and its farming community with a fair income, according to ICMSA deputy president John Comer.

He was speaking at a demonstration in Brussels attended by dairy farmers from 19 European Union states, all members of the European Milk Board (EMB), a representative farmer group of which the ICMSA is the Irish partner.

The EMB members argued the European Commission’s trade negotiations with the Mercosur countries would see EU beef farmers’ livelihoods decimated by imports of beef from Brazil, Argentina Paraguay, Uruguay.

They believe the EC should not accept imports of food which do not comply with the quality regulations adhered to by European farmers.

As regards the planned end of dairy quota era in 2015, John Comer added: “All European farmers share a common concern that when deregulation comes they will not be exposed to boom and bust cycles due to the volatility in milk prices.

“With the milk quota going, we need a monitoring agency to regulate the industry. We are not opposed to the expansion of the sector, but we need some recognition of the sensitivities that are particular to the dairy sector. “When a farmer decides to breed cattle today, he does so with no knowledge or guarantees on the price he will eventually get from the market when it comes to selling milk. The industry needs some balance and ability to plan. All European farmers share the same concern. They just want to protect the family farm, while ensuring Europe’s food security.”

The ICMSA deputy president said legislation currently before the European Parliament will mean the effective deregulation of the vitally important European dairy sector as the quotas setting out production limits are phased out. He said this will inevitably lead to price volatility and chaos both for farmers and consumers in the EU.

“The Commission cannot simply decide to regulate every area of farm production, and then abdicate its responsibilities at market level.”

He didn’t want to see agriculture suffer the same plight as a deregulated banking sector.


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