Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Labour Party to support efforts to restore Irish sugar beet processing

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The Labour Party has thrown its weight behind the campaign to restore the Irish sugar- processing sector.

Labour Party agriculture spokesperson Sean Sherlock said the party would seek to ensure that the next programme for Government would include a commitment to assessing the potential to restore the Irish sugar quota beyond 2015.

Mr Sherlock insisted that the review of the current EU sugar regime, scheduled to take place in 2014, should be seized as an opportunity to secure an allocation of tonnage or quota to ensure Ireland produces sugar again.

"While this is an issue dominated by countries such as Germany and France, the Labour Party will adopt a strong position and we will be seeking a feasibility study involving all stakeholders and a renegotiation at European level through intense dialogue with our European partners," Mr Sherlock said.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos has confirmed that the future of the sugar quota system will form part of the debate on reform of the CAP post-2013.

However, Commission officials appeared to pour cold water on the hopes of Irish farmers being allowed to again process beet for sugar production.

Having paid €310m in compensation to beet growers, contractors and the processor Greencore following the closure of the Irish industry in 2006, sources in Brussels appeared to dismiss the possibility of Ireland being allowed to once again produce sugar.


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An EU Court of Auditors report condemned the shutting of the Irish sugar sector, claiming that the decision to close the Mallow sugar plant in 2006 was based on out-of-date information.

A recent campaign by former beet growers to have the industry revived attracted more than 1,700 people to three public meetings in Mallow, Enniscorthy and Kilkenny.

Commission officials are due to meet a delegation of Irish farmers in Brussels today to discuss the impact of the closure of the Irish sugar-processing sector.

The meeting has been facilitated by Ireland East MEP Mairead McGuinness, who recently received confirmation from Commissioner Ciolos that an evaluation of the sugar quota regime would form part of the CAP reform process.

"This evaluation will examine the impact of CAP measures applied to the sugar supply chain, including the farm sector, sugar producers and refiners," Ms McGuinness said.

"The commissioner accepts that the current quota system causes certain rigidities and constraints, which is why, in the future, the sugar regime will form part of the CAP post-2013 discussions."

The MEP said today's Brussels meeting was set to provide an opportunity for Commission officials to hear how the closure of the industry had impacted at farm level in Ireland.

"The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity to those who have been actively engaged in talking to farmers about the issue in the light of the Court of Auditors report on the reforms, to raise specific issues directly with the Commission," said Ms McGuinness.

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