Friday, May 04, 2012

WHY A YES TO THE STABILITY TREATY IS GOOD FOR AGRICULTURE

A YES vote in the Stability Treaty will deliver certainty around recovery, investment and the future funding of our country. It is in the interests of the agri-food sector to VOTE YES and secure Ireland’s future.

EXPORTS
·        Exports are key to the future growth of the agri-food sector. In 2011, agri-food and drink exports increased by 12% to nearly €9bn, exporting to 170 countries worldwide. A stable euro and strong reputation internationally is critical to driving further growth in exports.
·        Passing The Stability Treaty will send a strong message to our trading partners about our ongoing commitment to maintaining Ireland as a stable, secure and innovative place to do business with.

NEW MARKETS
·        EU membership and a strong and a stable euro have provided Ireland with a huge barrier-free internal market for our products and support for exports to world markets. Today we have free access to half-a-billion consumers across Europe providing huge potential to every Irish farmer.
·        Huge opportunities for expansion lie in new markets for Irish produce, like China and Africa, particularly with the opportunity presented by the abolition of dairy quotas post 2015. Maintaining certainty around our currency and capacity for recovery will be really important in accessing trading opportunities for Irish produce in new markets. 

CAP NEGOTIATIONS
·        The CAP has transformed Irish farming and the food industry in this country since 1973.  EU Membership has increased farmers’ incomes and transformed living standards to the benefit of farming, the food industry and the wider rural community.
·        Irish consumers have benefited from higher levels of food safety, better environmental controls, additional employment in food processing and a positive contribution to our balance of payments.
·        We are now reaching a crucial stage in CAP negotiations and Ireland is likely to be hosting the Presidency of the EU during the final stages of negotiation.
·        We have always punched well above our weight in EU agriculture negotiations because of our ability to build alliances and win friends for our cause.  We have also succeeded, where many other Member States have failed, in getting concessions or side deals to cushion the effects of reforms that might have had unfavourable impacts.
·        As a small country with a very significant interest in the outcome of the CAP for one of our most important indigenous sectors, it is vital that we maintain our goodwill and influence as a strong and vocal member state during the negotiating process so we can deliver the best possible outcome for Irish farmers under the new CAP. 

EU FUNDING
·        The agri-food sector and wider economy has benefitted massively from the CAP. Upon accession to the then EEC in 1973, the annual output of the sector £560 million and our main export market was the UK. In 2011, exports reached an all time high of almost €9bn, exporting to 170 countries and an overall annual output of €24bn and 150,000 jobs.
·        From 1973 to 2011, Ireland received around €50 billion from the EU in agricultural funding, including financing for direct payments to farmers, rural development measures (e.g. REPS, Disadvantaged areas, Early Retirement schemes etc.) and market supports. 
·        This Treaty provides Ireland with access to emergency rescue funds if we should need them in the future following our bailout programme, at low interest rates. This will be key to maintaining the progress we have made to date on building our reputation internationally and the interest shown by foreign companies in the agri-food sector to invest in Ireland.

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