Fine Gael frontbenchers have “differing views” on the potential reappointment of EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan to his current Brussels brief, according to the chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture.

Commissioner Hogan has been the subject of strong criticism from the farming community in recent days following the announcement that political agreement has been reach on an EU-Mercosur trade deal – that would see 99,000t of beef from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay making its way onto EU market shelves over a five year period.

The possible implications of the deal for Irish and EU beef farming has also been widely deliberated in the chambers of Leinster House this week.

When asked by AgriLand, if the situation could impact on political motivation to see Commissioner Hogan secure the agriculture brief for a second term in Brussels, Carlow deputy Pat Deering said:

There may or may not be. Some people would have different opinions on it.

While he outlined that the party “is not divided on the deal”, he said it is “disappointed with the timing of it”.

However, the deputy himself is of the view that Commissioner Hogan will get a second term in Europe.

Commenting on the party’s stance on the EU-Mercosur deal, Deering stressed: “It is still only a draft deal. There is a long way to go on it.”

There’s going to have to be a lot of work done, but there could still be big changes [to the deal].

“It’s not positive and there is some element of contradiction to it.

He outlined that the Fine Gael party “is not divided on the deal – but is disappointed with the timing of it”.

‘Not throwing in towel’

Meanwhile, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has said this week that he “isn’t throwing in the towel” on the EU-Mercosur trade agreement.

The minister also told the Dáil on Wednesday, July 3, that he would try to “frustrate and thwart the ambition” of the deal.

He added that the Mercosur countries’ record on climate change and environmental issues “can be used to our advantage” in trying to influence the direction of the deal.

“But there is a very significant element in the proposed deal on climate, and if we can use that to frustrate and thwart the ambition of Mercosur, to make sure [the deal] is legally robust – and their well-documented climate disregard can be used to our advantage – that’s one area,” he concluded.