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Agriculture must not be WTO scapegoat - Ferris

1 December, 2005

Speaking during a Dáil debate on the World Trade Organisation, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD, highlighted concerns that farm payments are being offered as a negotiating chip by Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

Deputy Ferris said: "Irish farmers have many issues of concern regarding the World Trade Organisation. These centre above all on Trade Commissioner Mandelson's proposals to place the Common Agricultural Policy on the table as part of a deal. There are also concerns regarding the opening up of EU markets to beef from third countries, and of course the implications which trade liberalisation has had for the Irish sugar beet sector.

"In regard to the Single Farm Payment, any effort to interfere with it must be strenuously resisted, and I am glad to note that Minister Coughlan has stressed that she is adopting this line and that it has the support of other Agriculture Ministers. The whole point of the CAP reform and the introduction of de-coupling was that this was a means of taking farm payments out of the negotiations on the basis that they would no longer be regarded as trade-distorting subsidies.

"Farmers were given a definite commitment that no attempt would be made to interfere with the CAP budget until at least 2013. Those commitments must be honoured and this must be made clear to Mandelson." ENDS

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