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THE fact that each EU member state has the power to veto a world trade agreement, as confirmed by Seán Ó Neachtain MEP (Letters, May 26) helps to move forward the debate on the Lisbon Treaty.
But it begs the question: why then has the Government refused to say plainly that it will use its veto to stop Peter Mandelson selling out Irish and European agriculture?
What really worries farmers is the very fact that the Government has given no such commitment whatsoever in advance of the Lisbon referendum.
The Government can no longer pretend we don’t know the extent of the cuts facing Irish agriculture in a trade deal because the World Trade Organisation (WTO) itself published a comprehensive paper on May 19 setting out the details.
It means the destruction of the Common Agricultural Policy and of family farming in Ireland and Europe.
It means a race to the bottom as regards food safety, labour, environmental and animal welfare standards, as Irish and European food markets are thrown open to South American ranchers and international commodity traders. At beef prices of €2/kg or 70p/lb, the Irish beef industry will face the same kind of shutdown as the sugar beet industry with up to one million suckler cows slaughtered.
Milk prices at 24 cent a litre will put thousands of dairy farmers out of business.
The Department of Agriculture knows the figures, but it is afraid to publish them.
In all, 50,000 jobs would be lost in our food industry and in the service industries depending on agriculture in more than 50 towns across rural Ireland. A total loss to the economy of €4 billion per year.
It’s time the Government declared its intention to veto the WTO deal on agriculture.
That would be enough to put a stop to Mandelson and reassure farmers on the Lisbon referendum.
IFA Munster Vice-President
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