Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, has said he is disappointed at the failure of Fine Gael to heed warning signs over new Free Trade Agreements.
He was speaking after Fine Gael MEPs supported opening negotiations with Australia and New Zealand. Carthy said that Fine Gael MEPs had once again sold out Irish farmers.
“Back in 2011 an official Impact Assessment on the effects of the Mercosur Free Trade Agreement predicted that the agreement would result in a decline of farm income, lower prices and farmers having to quit production.
“The Impact Assessment for the Free Trade Agreements with Australia and New Zealand makes the exact same prediction – that increased market access in agriculture will negatively affect the rural employment of small farmers in the EU.
“This is the Report that Fine Gael have just supported.
“Just two years after the end of milk quotas and barely a year since the last emergency aid package for the dairy sector had to be triggered, Fine Gael MEPs have supported opening up this sector to competition from one of the biggest global traders in dairy.
“It is time to get real about what these free trade agreements will mean for farming income. All signs from the Commission point to the intention to move towards the industrialisation of the agricultural sector.
“The protection of farming incomes and farm-gate prices are nowhere on the agenda at the moment, as farmers are still grappling with the slow movement and uncertainty with regard to Brexit negotiations.
“Bizarrely an amendment calling for any agreement to require the ratification of national parliaments was rejected with Fine Gael MEPs voting against the Dáil having a say.
“I am happy that an amendment I submitted to the Report, calling for the exclusion of sensitive sectors from negotiations was adopted by a majority of MEPs.
“I will be writing to Commissioner Hogan to ask that he defends this position. The Irish government must also now revert from its position of chief cheerleader of the Commission’s regressive trade agenda and instead start defending Irish interests with regard to all EU trade deals”.