Bradford issues sugar industry warning

THE Irish sugar industry will die, if the European Commission proposals put forward for the reform of the sector are enacted, Senator Paul Bradford warned during a debate in the Senate.

Noting that Agriculture and Food Minister Mary Coughlan will have her first set of negotiations in Brussels on July 14, he urged her to fight to have the initial proposals rejected.

“There is no need for me to remind the minister that if the proposals with their substantial price cut and inadequate levels of compensation are put in place, the Irish sugar industry will die.

“With it will go not just the livelihoods of the 4,000 or so growers but thousands of associated jobs in transport, factories and distribution? The tillage industry itself, with its whole basis of rotation, will be affected.”

Mr Bradford said there has been talk of compensation but the early figures being put forward by Brussels are entirely inadequate.

“Compensation is but a short-term solution. We need a long-term plan for the sugar industry and must ensure the Irish agriculture sector continues to benefit from growing sugar beet.”

Sen Michael Callanan said he was sad as a beet grower to see farmers so divided.

Minister Coughlan said the proposals are totally unacceptable in their present form.

It is unprecedented for the Commission to make proposals which could lead to the demise of an entire sector in a number of member states including Ireland.

The level of price cuts proposed is such as to make sugar beet production uneconomic.

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