In a joint declaration by European farmers, 43 farmer organisations in 14 countries, as well as umbrella groups including the European Milk Board (EMB) have called on their respective governments to reject the EU-Mercosur agreement.

Organisations from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain (including Basque Country and Galicia) and Switzerland have signed the joint declaration.

The free trade agreement is being contested in some member states at national level.

The EMB says clear criticisms have been voiced by Austria, Netherlands, France, Ireland and Belgium.

It says that Germany, which currently holds the council presidency, announced that it wishes to make progress on the ratification of the EU-Mercosur agreement, even though Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has recently expressed concerns about the agreement.

This latest group of joint declaration signatories says the fear is that Germany will accommodate the critical countries with small corrections and push them toward ratification.

EMB President Erwin Schopge said:

“With the EU-Mercosur agreement, imports of products like meat, sugar and soya from the Mercosur countries are set to increase, which, in turn, will encourage them to adopt a strongly export-oriented, even more industrial production model.

“The Amazon forest, which is integral to worldwide climate protection and biodiversity, must remain safe from this system.

Human rights violations are also a factor that cannot be ignored in the context of such developments.

“At the same time, family farms in Europe are faced with major challenges to produce foodstuffs that uphold stricter environmental and animal welfare standards, which implies higher production costs.

“Increased, non-equivalent imports from the Mercosur countries exert an additional price pressure on Europe’s family farms.

This trade policy and these unmatched production, environmental and social standards that favour the agro-industry are simply speeding up the disappearance of small-scale farms on either side of the Atlantic.

The group of farmers say they are facing major challenges in producing climate-friendly and animal-friendly food, which means higher costs for farms.

However, they say rising and cheap imports from the Mercosur countries are leading to increasing price pressure on European farmers.

The farmers have called for a trade policy that promotes fair, cost-covering producer prices across the world, environmental protection, biodiversity and animal welfare, human rights, small-scale farming, regional foodstuffs and fair working conditions.