Sugar beet report leads to calls for new quota
Published 16/11/2010 | 05:00
A former leader of the country's beet growers said he was not "overly surprised" by criticism of the EU Commission's sugar restructuring programme.
Cork tillage farmer Jim O'Regan said he believed the commission had approached reform of the sugar industry "from the wrong angle" during the initial talks in 2005.
Mr O'Regan was chairman of the IFA beet committee from 2002 to 2006 and was party to the negotiations which preceded the closure of the Irish industry.
However, he insisted that he was vehemently opposed to the EU approach to the rationalisation process.
A damning report by the EU Court of Auditors has criticised the decision to shut Greencore's processing plant in Mallow, claiming that it was based on out-of-date information on the productivity of the Irish sugar sector.
The report points out that the company had undertaken significant rationalisation of the Mallow plant in the years prior to its closure while both the sugar content and overall beet yield of Irish crops had improved significantly.
Mr O'Regan said the entire rationalisation plan was based on the flawed premise that subsidised European production was distorting sugar prices on world markets.
"We were not over-producing sugar," Mr O'Regan maintained. He pointed out that the EU was giving preferential access to the lucrative European market for African, Caribbean and Pacific states.