Agriculture Committee examines proposals for redevelopment of sugar beet industry.

11th June, 2012

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine met with Beet Ireland and the Sugar Bio Refinery Group yesterday (Tuesday). Both groups outlined detailed proposals on their plans to redevelop the sugar industry, these were stand-alone studies, which demonstrate the viability of a strong sugar industry in Ireland.

Vice-chair of the Committee, Carlow Fine Gael TD saidWhen our Committee met with both groups we were presented with two professionally prepared presentations that  demonstrate that an Irish sugar industry is both viable and sustainable. Both groups made a strong economic case for the re-establishment of a secure and quality supply of sugar that is crucial to achieving the targets of Food Harvest 2020. As well as sugar being a vital raw material to a wide range of food manufacturing companies here, it also boosts agricultural productivity as a crop rotation option, and is good value fodder for animals.

“Both groups reached many similar conclusions. Committee Members encouraged both groups to work together and share information so that a common position can be agreed in advance of any negotiations on the issue in Brussels and I’m delighted that this was accepted by all concerned as positive and as a crucial step forward.

“There is cross-party support for re-establishing the industry, the committee will now work to ensure Ireland’s case is presented in the strongest possible terms. The European Commission’s position is to end quotas after 2015, but there is concern that a recent draft European Parliament report has suggested this be extended to 2020.

“We will now engage with our own Minister, Simon Coveney and his officials, all our MEPs and the European Commission to ensure that the industry is restored  as quickly as possible after the current quota system is abolished and if that extends beyond 2015 then Ireland will be looking for a derogation as this was the agreement we had with the commission when Ireland’s quota was surrendered.