Feed material prices, GMOs, , risk based sampling and the nitrates proposals were some of the topics discussed by the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association with Jim Nicholson MEP at a meeting this week.

NIGTA delegates, back row, Fiona McCord; John Cunningham; Alan Bristow and Robin Irvine with Declan Billington, front left, President, NIGTA who met with Jim Nicholson MEP , front right, to discuss a range of topics that are of concern at the moment.
NIGTA delegates, back row, Fiona McCord; John Cunningham; Alan Bristow and Robin Irvine with Declan Billington, front left, President, NIGTA who met with Jim Nicholson MEP , front right, to discuss a range of topics that are of concern at the moment.

Commissioner Dalli’s announcement on the cultivation of GMO crops allows member states to have their whole country or a particular zone in their country designated as  GM free if they wish.  The question for farmers is if GM free would return the premium required or if GM regions would have a competitive advantage. It is also felt that the same ruling could be applied to imports of GM feed materials.

Zero tolerance will be even more important  as importing GM free from a country that also has a GM area provides a possible risk of contamination. Zero tolerance is also important regarding the importation of not yet authorised GM events into the EU.

A letter from the European feed assocation, FEFAC, and EU feed chain partners calling for the adoption of a technical solution for the low level presence of such GM events has been sent to Commissioner Dalli  and Jim Nicholson was asked to give this his full support.

The NIGTA delegation outlined the various factors affecting feed material prices resulting in sharp increases in price. These included the perceived harvest predictions in various parts of the world, and the effects of the bio fuel industry but causing  most volatility is fund buying.

Declan Billington, President NIGTA discusses current issue in the feed trade with Jim Nicholson MEP.
Declan Billington, President NIGTA discusses current issue in the feed trade with Jim Nicholson MEP.

The efforts being made by NIGTA to introduce risk based sampling in order to avoid another feed scare like the dioxin scare and to ensure safer feed and thus food for the consumer were commended by Jim Nicholson.

NIGTA delegates, back row, Fiona McCord; John Cunningham; Alan Bristow and Robin Irvine with Declan Billington, front left, President, NIGTA who met with Jim Nicholson MEP , front right, to discuss a range of topics that are of concern at the moment.

NIGTA delegates, back row, Fiona McCord; John Cunningham; Alan Bristow and Robin Irvine with Declan Billington, front left, President, NIGTA who met with Jim Nicholson MEP , front right, to discuss a range of topics that are of concern at the moment.

Under the nitrates proposals it was noted that some of items are of  concern to farmers, yet the evidence shows that the current proposals have had a beneficial effect. The Rose Energy project and its importance in putting Northern Ireland well ahead of target under the Nitrates Action Programme was also discussed.

Declan Billington, NIGTA President commented “ We were delighted to learn that Jim Nicholson is very much up to speed with the items discussed and is working very hard not only on aspects which concern the grain and feed trade but also for the agri food industry generally.”

Speaking after the meeting with NIGTA, Conservatives and Unionists MEP Jim Nicholson said, “I would like to thank the representatives from NIGTA for agreeing to meet with me and very much welcome the extremely positive and constructive discussion we had. As I stressed during the meeting, we need greater flexibility and speed in approving GMO imports to Europe because the current situation is untenable particularly for the intensive sector. Because a number of Member States repeatedly abstain on Council when votes regarding GMO authorisation take place the entire approval process is being subject to delays which is unsustainable in the long term.”