Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (635)

Tom Fleming

Question:

646 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to reopen the Irish sugar beet industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34500/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine)

Background

The EU Sugar Regime underwent a radical reform in 2005 and Greencore, the holder of the entire Irish sugar quota availed of the sugar restructuring scheme, dismantled all its facilities and ceased production in 2006. Post reform production is now concentrated in 18 Member States. The present regime runs from 1 September 2006 to the 30 September 2015.

The total compensation package negotiated in the context of the reform of the EU sugar regime was worth a total of €353million to Ireland. This sum was made up of €220million to beet growers, €6 million to machinery contractors and €127 million to Greencore. The beet growers' share was made up of restructuring aid of €53 million, diversification aid of €44 million and €123 million via the Single Farm Payment. All elements of the Restructuring Scheme have now been implemented, not just within Ireland but across the EU.

Current Position

There is no mechanism under the current EU Regulations which would allow for the re-instatement of the sugar quota for the growing of sugar beet in Ireland for the production of sugar. In 2011 I met with two separate groups who had conducted feasibility studies, into the possibility of establishing a sugar/bioethanol facility here. At both meetings, I stated that any venture to develop a combined sugar/bioethanol production facility would have to be a commercial proposition, financed in total by investors and interested parties and make sound economic sense in order to be viable. I also further suggested to both groups the desirability of there being only one single proposition in play, as both studies had indicated a potential for only one such viable project and both groups had appeared to accept the reasonableness of this position at the time.

I have strongly supported the abolition of sugar quotas from 30 September 2015, as part of the ongoing CAP reform discussions and at each Council of Ministers meeting since October 2011, which has addressed this issue, I have intervened to fully support the Commission proposals for full quota abolition. During the course of Commissioner Ciolos's visit to Dublin in January 2012, I informed him of the growing momentum in Ireland for the revival of the sugar industry.

I also informed the Commissioner that while Ireland supports quota abolition in 2015, if the regime continues beyond that date, Ireland does not want to be deprived in the interim period of the option to recommence production . I am actively involved in CAP reform negotiations concerning the EU sugar regime, which are continuing.