Cullinan calls for ‘strong action’ against Trump on tariffs

The European Commission must take “strong action” in response to tariffs placed on EU exports to the US, according to Tim Cullinan, the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA) national treasurer.

Cullinan, a candidate in the association’s upcoming presidential election, called for “retaliatory tariffs” of 50% on certain products imported from the US, such as alcohol, sugar, sweeteners, fruits and nuts.

“This trade dispute is between multi-billion airplane manufacturers, and Irish dairy farmers are facing serious collateral damage arising from a dispute in which they are entirely innocent bystanders,” said Cullinan.

The trade tensions have arisen from US opposition to EU subsidies to airplane manufacturer Airbus. The resulting tariffs are expected to disproportionately affect Irish butter and cheese.

Cullinan highlighted that Kerrygold products would be particularly hard-hit.

“Ornua has invested heavily in building the Kerrygold brand as a premium Irish product in the US market. Kerrygold-branded butter and cheese sales in the US have grown to 35,000t per annum, which means there is strong consumer demand for those premium products – which will now be denied to US consumers,” he said.

Cullinan added: “All dairy farmers have contributed to winning a share of that market through heavy promotion based on grass-fed cows and a clean green image of Ireland.

The same world-class milk produced by Irish dairy farmers is a key ingredient in the globally renowned Bailey’s brand sold across the US. It too will be impacted by the punitive tariffs imposed by President Trump.

“The new European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan promised the European Parliament last week he would stand up for Europe. This is the first real challenge he faces in his new role,” said the IFA treasurer.

He concluded by saying: “His response to the Trump intimidatory tactics in this trade dispute will be a clear signal, to all and sundry, how the commissioner will defend European interests in future trade negotiations and dispute.”