AS CONCERN grows over the agri-food implications of a free trade deal between the United States the United Kingdom, pressure group Farmers For Action has stressed that the problem is with profit-hungry corporations, not family farmers.

FFA said that its 'very foundations' depended on not pitching one family farmer against another, no matter where they be in the world, so it would not join in with 'bashing' US farmers, which were as much the victims of big business as those on this side of the Atlantic.

"Currently, the press is full of fear that the current Westminster Government, despite current denials, will capitulate to a US trade deal that will require a lowering of standards to allow US beef, chicken and others to enter the UK as part of the bigger picture, " said FFA coordinator William Taylor.

"Let’s strip the current fears about standards down to the bone and ask who is causing the problem? Is it the US beef farmers who keep the suckler cows to produce the beef calves on farms where the average number of suckler cows is less than Ireland’s average? Or is it the corporate owned feedlots that buy them and then add the hormones, just like the US corporate chicken processing factories that add the chlorine wash?

"Or is it the genetically modified patented corporate seed companies that want complete control of American grain growing farmers? Or is it the large corporate food retailers, large corporate food processors and large corporate food wholesalers around the world who think they have a God-given- ight to screw family farmers in the US and the UK and indeed across the world by needlessly shipping food around the world purely for shareholder and board profit to the detriment of those same farmers?" asked Mr Taylor.

"Let’s be honest, these same corporates want to control cereal seeds, cereal prices, the world’s 2% of useable water, the beef, the stock market shares, the money flow to the chosen few across the world – you get the picture!’

“FFA’s conclusion is, let’s lay the blame for the threatening lowering of standards at the corporates' door where it deserves to be laid, ie the large corporate supermarket you may shop at, who will virtually stop at nothing to gain more profit. Let's stop blaming US farming families or any other farming families across the world. Remember when their produce leaves their farms their animals are alive, their grain and other crops are as good as they can produce them, therefore, the problem is clearly where family farmers finish at the farm gate and the giant corporates and indeed giant co-ops begin."

Mr Taylor added: "FFA’s prediction is that corporate lobbying with the current Government to make these trade deals work will open the floodgates to food imports, needed or otherwise, and will see the Government doing a U-turn on standards – at which point FFA will consider all out protests with the help of many other organisations, of whom we are in no doubt we will gain willing support from."