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Sinn Féin Calls For EU To Defend Family Farms

10 May, 2004

As the 25 EU Agriculture Ministers meet in Killarney, Sinn Féin EU North West EU candidate Pearse Doherty and South candidate David Cullinane, have called on the Ministers to commit themselves to defending family based farming, and to resist attempts to use the World Trade Organisation negotiations to allow unbridled market forces dictate the future of European agriculture.

In a joint statement released today Mr Doherty and Mr Cullinane said:

"The Common Agricultural Policy was created in order to protect the European model of family based farming. Over the past 30 years we in this country have seen tens of thousands of farmers having to leave the land. While much of this has been attributed to inevitable structural change flowing from changes in productivity, it is my belief that many of those farms could have been saved. It is also my firm conviction that we can and must act in order to prevent a similar drift from the land over the coming decades.

"Sinn Féin argued for a reform of the CAP and in favour of full decoupling. We believe that the Single Farm Payment can provide the basis for safeguarding the incomes of small to medium producers if made part of a radical new strategy for the future of farming. A fundamental part of that must be to ensure that farmers are given a greater share in the value of what they produce. It is absolutely scandalous that supermarkets can charge up to five times for certain products what they pay to the farmers.

"It is also vital that the EU resists attempts by the United States to use the WTO to force Europe to open itself up to penetration by corporate agri-business. Part of this is the ongoing attempts to have the EU lift its embargoes on GM products and crops. Another aspect concerns export subsidies and access to markets. While Sinn Féin supports the right of farmers in the developing world to be able to sell their produce in Europe, we must be careful that this argument is not used as a Trojan horse to further weaken the position of European farmers to the benefit of the corporations who control the vast bulk of trade with the developing world.

"Sinn Féin at EU level will continue to argue for policies that will protect the place of the family farm and that will allow Irish and other European farmers to use the reformed CAP to move forward on the basis of higher quality production, better returns to the producer, and greater control over all aspects of the sector by producers." ENDS

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