End of subsidies a 'black day' for Irish farmers

The decision to phase out all EU farm export subsidies by 2013 is a black day for Irish families, farmers’ leaders said tonight.

The decision to phase out all EU farm export subsidies by 2013 is a black day for Irish families, farmers’ leaders said tonight.

Delegates attending the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit in Hong Kong reached the agreement on a new global deal after days of intense negotiations.

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) president John Dillon described the WTO draft agreement as a black day for Irish farm families.

“They have paid a heavy price. One of the lowest income sectors in Ireland has been forced to bear the cost of the deal.”

He added: “Irish farm families have been sacrificed to further the interests of multi-national traders and South American ranchers.”

Ministers from 149 countries have expressed relief that they had averted a repeat of failed conferences in Seattle in 1999 and in Cancun in 2003.

However the deal had broken down overnight when Brazil, Argentina and other countries insisted ending export subsidies by 2010, not 2013.

The high level of EU export subsidies has crippled the development of agriculture in the developing world.

But Mr Dillon said the deal would destroy one-third of Irish farm output, with a loss of €1.2bn to the country.

“Farm incomes will fall by 35%, with a knock-on loss of €800m euro to the rural economy,” he said.

He said that there would be 50,000 jobs lost in farming, farm supplies and processing as more and more of the European food market was taken over by North and South America, Australia and New Zealand.

He said these countries were the real winners and not the impoverished, less-developed countries that the WTO Doha development round was supposed to help.

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