In Rome today, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, met his French counterpart, Didier Guillaume, and EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan to discuss the latest developments in the EU-Mercosur trade negotiations.
Minister Creed noted the shared concerns both he and Minister Guillaume have on the current state of play in these negotiations. Speaking following the meeting, the Minister said: “This was a very useful engagement with a Member State that has long been an ally of Ireland on many aspects of agricultural policy, and particularly in relation to the potential impact of an EU-Mercosur deal. We agreed that there are strong reasons for concern about the possible conclusion of such a deal in the short-term, with specialist beef farmers in both Ireland and France being particularly exposed to negative impacts. We will remain in close contact on this issue over the coming period.”
Minister Creed recalled the concerted efforts that have been made - and continue to be made - by Ireland, France and other Member States to defend the interests of the EU agriculture sector in the EU-Mercosur negotiations.
These have been going on for many years, and have included joint initiatives on issues such as the Commission conducting a Cumulative Impact Assessment on the effect of quota concessions across a range of trade negotiations on the sector, the exclusion of a beef tariff rate quota from negotiations in 2016, and the ongoing efforts to avoid any further concessions in the latest phase of negotiations. Most recently, Heads of State and Government from Ireland, France, Poland and Belgium have written to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urging no further agriculture concessions, and Ministers Creed and Humphreys have written to Commissioners Hogan and Malmström to the same effect.
Minister Creed also met Commissioner Hogan to express his deep concern about news of momentum behind a Mercosur deal. He urged that there should be no further concessions on beef, which has been identified by the Commission’s own analysis as a vulnerable sector.
In other bilateral meetings en marge of the EU-AU Ministerial Conference, Minister Creed also met:
- New Zealand’s Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor – discussions focused on existing and future cooperation between both countries in relation to climate change and agriculture.
- Egypt’s Agriculture Minister DR Ezz El-Din Abu Steit – discussions focused on Ireland’sAgri food exports and technical cooperation.
Minister Doyle reacts to the RTÉ investigation into the Greyhound Industry
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle, T.D. who has special responsibility for the greyhound sector, expressed his deep concern at the issues highlighted in the RTE Investigation of the 26th June 2019. Minister Doyle said in response: “The Department takes any allegations of breaches of animal welfare rules very seriously and will thoroughly investigate and take the necessary enforcement actions to deal with such offences.”
The new Greyhound Racing Act 2019 signed into law last month gives Bord na gCon enhanced powers to make regulations for the traceability of greyhounds. The Board may make regulations to require the registration of greyhound owners, the registration of racing greyhounds and the notification by owners, breeders and trainers of greyhounds of many more life events than those currently captured on existing studbook and micro-chipping databases. The regulations will support the Board in its ambition to establish and maintain a new comprehensive tracing database for racing greyhounds and provides greater powers to deal with areas such as anti-doping, integrity and sanctions.
The Minister of State highlighted that the Department has a strong and consistent record regarding the enforcement of animal welfare rules, including the review of 100 years of animal welfare legislation, leading to the enactment of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. A total of 73 successful prosecutions have been taken under the Act since it was brought in, with a further 30 prosecution files currently being processed for welfare abuses.
My Department does not issue certificates for the export of greyhounds to China or Pakistan. No certificates have been issued for the export of greyhounds from Ireland to either of those destinations since I became Minister.
The Minister also stated that the Department is engaging in a review of the licensing conditions in knackeries, with regard to practices seen on RTE. All allegations will be examined to determine the appropriate actions.