Irish Farmers 'Getting Their Facts Wrong': Mandelson

European Commissioner Peter Mandelson has accused the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) of lying to voters regarding the upcoming Lisbon Treaty.

On Tuesday, the IFA warned of a 'No' vote if its concerns about Mr Mandelson's World Trade Organisation talks, which are taking place in Doha in Qatar, were not allayed.

Farmers are concerned the talks could result in a deal which could ruin the Irish beef market.

The President of the association, Padraig Walshe, wrote to TD's and Senators earlier this week saying the treaty was a threat to farmers' livelihoods explaining that Peter Mandelson's approach was the "single obstacle" to farmers voting 'Yes' in the referendum.

Mr Mandelson has hit back however, saying farmers have to take stock of the importance of the treaty. He said: "The Irish Farmers Association are getting their facts wrong. The first step is for people to understand what's really at stake in these negotiations and why the Irish beef industry can and will be secured."

Mr Mandelson rejected claims by the IFA that a WTO deal will destroy the country's agriculture industry.

"For example, beef tariffs would not come down by 70% with a successful Doha deal, as some are suggesting in Ireland. We are proposing that beef be treated as a sensitive product and this means a reduction of just 23%," adding: "Irish beef has a strong future."

However, the IFA's Mr Walshe pointed out that EU has affected Irish agriculture before, and that the introduction of larger exports could seriously damage the market for Irish Famers. He said: "Significantly, six years ago we had a thriving sugar industry in Ireland which is now gone and that happened as a direct result of the last WTO deal."


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