THE Deputy President of ICMSA, John Comer, has accused the EU of engaging in a ‘double attack’ on European farming with Irish farming seeming to be singled out.
Mr Comer said that markets were being deregulated and abandoned to the whims of gigantic retail multiples with turnovers the size of sovereign states while simultaneously family farm producers were regulated to distraction as well as having arbitrary production costs foisted upon them. Mr Comer was speaking to a demonstration of farmers staged by the European Milk Board outside the European Parliament in Brussels this morning.
The ICMSA Deputy President said that legislation currently before the European Parliament, and which will be dealt with later before the Council of Ministers, will mean the effective deregulation of the vitally important European dairy sector as the quotas setting out production limits are phased-out. Every single commentator accepted that this deregulation through quota abolition will lead to massive and chaotic price volatility both for farmers and consumers.
Mr Comer asked what the point of the exercise was. Why was deregulation to be considered as an unalloyed good? He told his farming colleagues from various Member States of the Union that the ordinary people of Ireland knew to their bitter cost what the end results of regulation were If they ever forgot, they had only to contemplate the wreckage of the country’s banking sector where a lack of regulation had quite literally bankrupted the state.
In precisely the same way, Mr Comer said that a deregulated dairy market would eventually bring chaos to this important market as supply and demand became increasingly mismatched and subject to professional commodity speculation.
Referring to comments reported to have been made by the present Irish Commissioner Maura Geoghegan-Quinn about the dangers of rising anti-Europeanism, Mr Comer said that perhaps no section of Irish society had been more pro-European than farmers but that their growing disillusionment with the project was based on this glaring contradiction that had the EU monitoring to the most minute degree the people producing the food but seemingly unable – or unwilling – to interfere at all in the chain that left the food producers at the mercy of those who came after them in the retail chain and who seemed to be able to do as they please without the slightest interference from those same EU authorities.
Mr Comer also referred to the Commission’s own work on the threat posed by the proposed Mercosur deal (mainly the import of beef from Brazil, Argentina Paraguay, Uruguay) and asked why – if the threat to European beef production was as dire as the Commission was now conceding – they did not simply refuse to make the agreement?