Mercosur: ‘Ireland the single biggest casualty in sell-out of EU agriculture’

The proposed Mercosur trade deal has been criticised as a sell-out of EU agriculture, with Ireland the single biggest casualty, according to independent MEP Marian Harkin.

Describing the imminent deal as a capitulation to the interests of major EU industrial goods exporters, she said that it could mean the death knell of Ireland’s beef sector – which currently represents a €2.5 billion contribution to Ireland’s economy.

“Coming on the heels of Brexit – from which Ireland will suffer most – this deal is really bad news for Irish beef producers, as the EU market will be oversupplied with the high-value beef cuts that are essential to sustaining Ireland’s beef sector,” she said.

The deal would have far-reaching effects on all of rural Ireland, the MEP stressed – as it was estimated that for every euro provided in support for Ireland’s 100,000 suckler farmers, there was a €4 return.

This is hugely important to sustaining the towns and villages throughout the country, she added.

Harkin continued: “In the context of escalating deforestation in Brazil, it makes absolutely no sense that the EU Commission is proposing to massively increase the amount of beef it is importing – which in turn fuels increased levels of deforestation in Brazil and contributes significantly to higher CO2 emissions.

“On the other hand, that self-same EU Commission is facilitating the Irish government to give 100% grant aid to afforestation – pricing local farmers out of the land market and displacing more climate-friendly livestock production.

This crazy policy, which negatively impacts on climate change, is putting efficient EU producers out of business.

Concluding, Harkin said: “I will be strongly opposing any deal of this nature in the European Parliament. I am calling on the Irish Government and the EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan to actively reject any such deal which is little more than a sell-out of Irish beef farmers and will have a significantly negative impact on the Irish economy, particularly the rural economy.”