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EU To Dismantle Sugar Production Quotas

801547_sugarEuropean Union negotiators agreed today to dismantle the bloc’s system of sugar production quotas, same to come into effect from October 2017.

This deal to end sugar quotas from 2017 will be subject first to final approval from EU governments and the European Parliament and is seen as part of wider reforms within the EU’s common agricultural policy.

This 45 year old system of national production quotas and minimum sugar beet prices has been blamed for creating artificial shortages of the sweetener in Europe and also for limiting EU exports, because of world trade rules on unfair subsidies.

The return of the sugar industry to Ireland if successful would be immediately identified as a real coup by farmers operating in the Tipperary agricultural sector. With a return of the Sugar industry allowed, hundreds of direct jobs could be created via three industries, sugar production and processing, feed production and possibly ethanol production.

While 2017 remains several years down the line, this is just the kind of additional kick-start that the Tipperary economy now needs, but I ask do we have the necessary political clout to deliver any future such project to our county?

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3 comments to EU To Dismantle Sugar Production Quotas

  • Proinsías Barrett

    It could be viable, you’d have to sit down and work out costs and projected sales, how long would it take to pay for the facility construction etc. Against that Thurles would be taking a risk because cane sugar seems to be cheaper to produce, often, unfortunately where labour costs are also lower.

    Chemically speaking table sugars refined from cane and beet sugar are quite similar, but there is a minute chemical difference, which is better for you? I don’t know. There are also arguments about which sugar is most energy efficient in production and arguments about which is more environmentally friendly to grow and process etc.

    I only mentioned this because IF Thurles went for it and re-opened a sugar-beat processing refinery again and a couple of years down the road the World Health Organisation or something similar turns around and says cane sugar is better and more efficient we’d be in trouble again (like the VHS versus Beta-max video in the 80’s! VHS won out but didn’t last long either as technology changed)

    Sugars and sweeteners can be derived from sources today unheard of during our sugar factory’s hey-day, it’s all down to cost effectiveness and product longevity.

    ‘Aspartame,’ or as it is known in the EU: E951 (you all know it as the ‘sugar free’ ingredient in soft drinks and canderel etc) is chemically produced and heavily patented by none other than Donald Rumsfelt…. remember him? George W Bush’s Secretary of Defense. He happened to be Chief Executive of the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) when aspartame was ‘approved’ for human consumption and vigorously sold to the food industry, primarily sweets and drinks producers for children.

    Rumsfelt’s corporation make sure no other artificial sweetener makes it on to the domestic or global market (a bit like how General Motors trial electric cars in the 1990’s were so successful, clean and efficient that US oil magnates pressured GM and had the project closed down) Rumsfelt lobbied hard to have the subsidies on US beet and cane sugar removed so as to place aspartame in a more cost effective market position.

    Sugar beet grows bigger, faster and better in Germany and France than it does in Ireland, it’s related to climate and not to any skill, could we compete without subsidies to both growers and processors like we used to? I doubt it. There might be some loyalty from the food industry here and customer brand loyalty in the supermarket but would that be enough?

    On the other hand the animal feed, molasses and potential fuel oil from the sugar beet might be, looking into the future, a more viable option, with table sugar as a sideshow. Also worth thinking about is that in the years since our mighty sugar factory in Thurles ceased production, when was it 1986 or 1987? technology has leaped ahead and with a new streamlined efficient production facility, the need for labour man-hours might be a lot less than in the good old Beet Campaign day’s when hundreds were on the job. Fully automated transportation, washing, pulping and furnace systems! there would be loads of jobs for robots, and a few human techies to maintain them, still it could work.

  • George Willoughby

    The manufacture of Bi-ethanol fuel could be one of the alternatives to producing raw sugar. However it also generates problems as it is costly to produce and swallows up land normally required to produce other cereal crops thus supporting a laissez-faire type economic situation, driving up the cost of human food stuffs due to scarcity versus demand. Are we scientifically advanced enough with the manufacture of Bi-ethanol fuel to replace some of our imported oil? Are there any real benefits to the environment by its use?

  • Melvin Brennan

    Algae and non-food (& wind, wave, sun) based bio-fuels are what will drive vehicles / power plants of the near future, although I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Tesla Motors have developed high end electric vehicles that are winning awards in the U.S, Warren Buffet invested big time (owns 10%) in Chinese EV manufacturer BYD and reckons all cars will be EV by 2030 http://www.byd-auto.net As Proinsías pointed out Súcra is part of a major health problem at the moment and who knows what TAXES are coming down the line for that.

    You have probably seen me blabbering on about it on facebook but I’m going to throw it out there.

    Irish Farmers must start looking into Industrial Hemp and the many products that can be derived from it – textiles (import 80%+), paper (import 100%), building materials, food / nutrition (seed), ropes/twines, bioplastics, Food, Clothes & Shelter! It has 1000’s of end uses and requires very little (nitrogen) agrichemical input for growth, it’s Organic, Renewable, Sustainable, Carbon Neutral, etc., etc. Have a look at the product range from Hempflax, all basic and don’t require any major millions of Euros investment to get going, Co-Ops could get involved.. http://hempflax.com/en/products

    Having done some traveling over the past 15 year to countries like China, Nepal, India where Industrial Hemp is grown on a large scale I’m absolutely convinced this crop & products derived from it can succeed in good ol’ Ireland. In 2000 I and a friend lived with a Tibetan family in Pokhara, Nepal for 6 weeks odd, he ran a small cottage industry set-up producing hemp clothing and we were there to help improve designs and find new markets. I have since been to China twice where I’ve seen the other end of large industrial production of hemp textiles, this is probable the largest producer of hemp textiles on the planet http://www.flickr.com/photos/inktonic/sets/72157632753021450/

    Teagasc have carried out numerous studies on growing Industrial Hemp in Ireland so the research is done already, back in 2001 they provided hemp to Medite to manufacture MDF http://www.teagasc.ie/energy/research/pdf_files/Hemp_for_MDF_production.pdf | Teagasc – Search – Hemp – http://www.teagasc.ie/search/index.asp?q=hemp | Medite have since produced the most sustainable MDF out there, from wood http://www.coillte.ie/aboutcoillte/news/article/view/medite-tricoya-wins-sustain-magazine-product-of-the-year-award/ http://www.meditetricoya.com

    I know I can find large buyers of Irish Made Hemp Products, or they’ll find me. Excuse for all the links but most of them are worth a look.

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