WTO reforms could devastate Irish farmers’ incomes, report predicts

Irish farmers could see annual incomes crumble by €200m (£137m) over the next 10 years because of World Trade Organisation reforms, according to new research from the Rural Economy Research Centre.

In the worst-case scenario, the report said axing export subsidies could devastate EU exports of butter, cheese, whole milk powder, sheep meat and beef.

The value of Ireland’s beef output would fall by 13% and sheep output would slump by almost a quarter.

Falling butter, cheese and skimmed milk powder prices are also predicted to take their toll.

But the Irish Farmers’ Association has lambasted the report for “serious flaws” and says the real impact of CAP reform and a WTO agreement could be much more serious.

President Padraig Walshe said: “A more accurate analysis jointly conducted by IFA and Meat Industry Ireland clearly showed that beef imports would undermine EU prices by up to 50%.

This would leave Irish beef production unviable.”

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association called on the EU to drop “trendy ideas” that a WTO deal would help farmers in the developing world and do more to defend its family farms.