The new Minister for Agriculture has said that the standards of food production and food safety will not be compromised in any TTIP deal.

Answering questions in the Dail, Minister Michael Creed said Ireland is both offensive and defensive on its TTIP interest, as it needs to ensure that any negotiation is concluded in terms that are beneficial to us.

“We never get everything we want in negotiations but we should not compromise on the standards of food production or on the safety of the food we produce in any way. They are cornerstones of negotiations that will not be compromised.

“We see worthwhile opportunities in the US for cheese, powdered milks and sports products and further opportunities for branded packaged butter if we can remove some regulatory barriers. Prepared consumer foods and fish could also benefit from trade liberalisation.

“Beef is a unique sector in that we have both offensive and defensive interests. In the long term, any significant increase in beef imports to the EU could have adverse effects on the Irish industry.”

Minister Creed also said that while much of the public commentary on TTIP.

“It is slightly worrying because it does not seem to acknowledge that if we do not trade we will have 10-year-old bullocks roaming the highways and byways of west Cork and other parts of the country.

“We need to export 90% of what we produce on the island. We can feed 50m people with the exports we produce here to a high quality and standard. Trade is our lifeblood but it is trade on our terms in a way that protects our primary producers. The more markets we have, the better prices we can extract.”

Some 800,000 jobs are directly or indirectly dependent on trade in the Irish economy. Accordingly, free trade and free trade agreements are very important to Ireland.

“It is commonly recognised that 90% of the growth in the world economy will be outside Europe in the years ahead. I believe we have to negotiate better access and become more committed to those markets where growth will occur in the future.”

About one third of all world trade occurs on the US-EU corridor so it has significant potential importance for Europe and for Ireland.

The Minister went on to say that a situation of the UK leaving the EU (Brexit) would be particularly devastating for the agrifood sector.