Irish farmers flex muscles in Lisbon Treaty referendum

The WTO negotiations have become a live issue in Irish politics because Ireland is the only EU country which will hold a referendum to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, and the campaign provides an opportunity for interest groups to maximise their bargaining strength. For example, farm groups who are traditionally pro-EU in referendum votes have threatened to campaign against the Lisbon Treaty not because of the content of the Treaty but because of their dissatisfaction with the way they see Peter Mandelson as EU Trade Commissioner handling the WTO negotiations.

Padraig Walshe, President of the Irish Farmers’ Association, the largest of the Irish farm groups, gave a not-so-veiled warning recently when he noted that “it would be unrealistic to expect the farming community and rural people to vote for the Lisbon Treaty while Mandelson is planning the destruction of the Irish and European family farm structure.”

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US Farm Bill goes to the wire

The US Congress has just 14 days in which to agree on a new farm bill able to secure the approval of the White House, and time is running out. If a farm bill is not passed by March 15th, then the so-called ‘permanent legislation’, the provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 and the Agricultural Act of 1949, would again become legally effective. The implications of this happening have recently been analysed by the US Department of Agriculture and would have such a dramatic and perverse effect on US farm programmes that it is most unlikely that Congress would let it happen.

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