Independent TD for Laois Offaly, Carol Nolan, has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to re-evaluate his rejection of proposals to limit or restrict the sale of beef and fresh fish from countries outside the EU, during or after the Covid-19 crisis.
Deputy Nolan made the remarks after Minister Creed indicated to her, in a parliamentary reply, that attempts to introduce such restrictions could damage Ireland’s reputation in terms of “quality safe food and as a trusted trading partner”.
“I am very disappointed with the Minister’s reply and, in particular, his assessment that protecting Irish farmers from non-EU imports would be a non-starter at European Union-level.” Nolan said.
Nolan said she would have hoped that his recent and welcome efforts at co-ordinating a Joint Statement of the E.U. Agriculture Ministers might have, “at least, created the possibility of real some debate on this issue”.
“We have seen in recent weeks how frustrated farmers have been with respect to the importation of Polish beef at a time, when our own suppliers are facing massive losses, like those contained with the cancellation of the McDonald’s contract.”
“The Minister’s reply is also at odds with his declaration during the Mercosur deal, a deal which I opposed.”
“In terms of the proposed Mercosur deal, the declaration from the Minister was that Ireland had effectively negotiated down the original request from South American countries for a beef quota of 300,000 tonnes.
In the end, the deal was for a quota of 99,000 tonnes, the Independent TD added. “Was that not an example of limiting and restricting non-EU imports?”
“How credible is it then for the Minister to now put forward the view that to implement similar import restrictions is just not possible?”
“No one is suggesting a total trade ban be out in place.What I am suggesting and what many farmers are suggesting, is that we should prioritise an import model that supports and does not undermine our own indigenous agri-food sector,” concluded Nolan.