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Local Fresh Produce Crippled by Foreign Imports – Deputy Noel Coonan

tipp-farming“Replacing local fresh high quality produce with foreign imports is crippling the Irish Farming Community”  stated Deputy Noel Coonan

North Tipperary‘s farming community is being brought to its knees by a Fianna Fail Government, which continually fails to protect farmers and the food industry, according to Deputy Noel Coonan. The Deputy’s comments relate to issues between supermarkets and Irish food producers, current milk prices and low beef prices.

Deputy Coonan stated:-

“We saw frustrated potato farmers stage a protest at a meeting of senior Tesco officials during the week in Meath where they voiced their just concerns over the importation of potatoes from abroad. The decision to replace local fresh produce with imports affects not just farmers but those working in delivery and packaging too. The Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith has to take adequate steps to protect this indigenous vital industry and immediately outline the Government’s plans to protect jobs in the industry. The farming community has the potential to play a strong role in revitalising the economy. The frustration felt by potato farmers echoes from dairy and beef farmers too. Liquid milk producers are losing out severely per litre for every litre they produce. Beef farmers also need a higher share of the consumer spend on the products they supply. Producers are not being rewarded for their efforts and are effectively being forced off the land. The margin is too great between what farmers sell and what the supermarkets sell it for. Minister Smith has previously described the agri-food sector as Ireland’s most important indigenous sector, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout every county in the country, at both producer and processor levels. Yet we see farmers facing cut after cut which hinders the development of the sector. The Government is doing nothing to stem the drift from the land when the country really needs agriculture to drag it out of this current recession.
Fine Gael Agriculture Spokesperson Michael Creed TD has questioned Minister Smith on how he proposes to protect and increase jobs in the food industry in view of threats posed to employment in the sector by the major multiples. This is an issue that is of grave importance and we will continue to question and press the Minister until we get an adequate reply.”

Deputy Coonan said that in contrast Fine Gael recognises the potential of the agri-food sector to stimulate job creation and economic growth and the party is committed to ensuring that Irish producers are competing on a level playing field with other countries.

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