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Written Answers - Sugar Processing

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 497.  Deputy David Stanton Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  the discussions, if any, he has had with his European counterparts regarding the future of the European Sugar Reform Fund; the amount currently available in the Fund; if there is any impediment to using this Fund to reinstate the sugar growing industry here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16148/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In 2006, a temporary restructuring scheme was introduced by the EU Commission with the aim of reducing EU sugar production in order to comply with WTO and other international obligations. The scheme provided an incentive for Community sugar processors to renounce sugar quota and dismantle the associated sugar processing plants and it provided compensation for affected stakeholders. Greencore plc, the sole Irish sugar processor and holder of the Irish sugar quota, decided to avail of this scheme and accordingly the company renounced the full Irish sugar quota and dismantled the last remaining sugar factory at Mallow, in compliance with the conditions of the scheme. This was a commercial decision taken by the Company.

The total compensation package negotiated in November 2005, in the context of the reform of the EU sugar regime, as modified in 2007, was worth €353m to Ireland, made up of €220m to beet growers, €6 million to machinery contractors and €127 million to Greencore plc. 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 and all funding from that scheme has also been fully committed.

Post reform, sugar production is now concentrated in 18 Member States. The present regime runs from 1 September 2006 to the 30 September 2015. There is no mechanism under the present 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.

The Deputy will be aware that I strongly support the EU Commission’s recent proposals (which form part of their latest package of CAP Reform measures) to fully abolish the current EU sugar quota regime with effect from September 2015 and I have made my position in this regard clear at several meetings of the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers. I also raised this [913]issue with the EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Dacian Ciolos during his recent visit to Ireland in January 2012.

In 2011 I met with two separate groups here who have conducted feasibility studies, into the possibility of establishing a new sugar/bioethanol facility in Ireland. At both meetings, I stated that any venture to develop a combined sugar/bioethanol production plant 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.

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