EU continues to give agri a bloody nose

DUP MEP Diane Dodds
DUP MEP Diane Dodds

DUP MEP Diane Dodds has expressed her frustration at the hypocrisy shown this week in Europe around a number of key agriculture issues which will have a direct impact upon farmers across Northern Ireland. Here she updates Farming Life readers on the latest developments.

This week farmers right across the EU received a bloody nose as a result of inaction, potential unfair trading agreements and a desire to ban the renewal of the active substance glyphosate.

Firstly, I had the opportunity this week through the EU Agriculture Committee to speak to the wider Parliament in Strasbourg on the crisis facing agriculture right across Europe, but in particular Northern Ireland. It was an opportunity to highlight to the parliament and Commissioner Phil Hogan the reality facing farmers and the wider rural economy but also to make it clear that the action taken thus far was inadequate and too slow in coming.

Unfortunately while talking about the need for Europe to act to ensure farmers can survive, in the background we had reports of ongoing trade talks with the Mercosur Bloc. Draft figures show that large amounts of beef and poultry would have access to the European market.

This is where Europe’s hypocrisy knows no bounds – we are trying to protect agriculture but on the other hand we are allowing food production to be exported to Latin America in exchange for Germany to sell BMW and Audi cars.

A number of impact assessments have been carried out in the past, all showing a negative impact for the beef sector in particular for the UK and Republic of Ireland. I made it clear that farmers are fed-up being the sacrificial lamb in trade deals and that the parliament and Commission must protect the beef sector, in particular given the difficulties it currently faces.

To add insult to injury we also have an attempt this week to ban the use of glyphosate. Glyphosate is found in the product Roundup, one of the worlds mostly widely used herbicides, a product which the arable sector and indeed all farmers rely greatly on. One of the main reasons cited for the refusal to renew the authorisation was because of the World Health Organisation rating glyphosate as probably carcinogenic.

While I agree that health is of the upmost importance it should also be noted that included in the list of probably carcinogenic are biomass fires (wood) and red meat. As legislators Europe must take a more risk based approach and one which is scientifically proven.

It is moves like those I have just highlighted that are frustrating farmers and even worse putting them out of business. I made it clear to the parliament and commission that if this total disregard continues many more farmers will become disillusioned with the EU.