Concerns around “the eco-disaster that is the Amazon forest fires and the complacency of the Brazilian government” have been described as a “stunning inability to make the connections between issues which are linked”.

The president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack, said there was “a direct line” between the EU-Mercosur trade agreement to the “conflagrations in the Amazon”.

He reiterated that in light of current events in the Amazon, “the Mercosur agreement facilitates the importation of almost 100,000t of South American beef into the EU”.

While farmers and everyone else were constantly told they had to ‘join the dots’ in terms of action, that sequence was absent when something like Mercosur was negotiated.

“The very moment Mercosur signaled South American beef was going to be imported by the EU, the South American ranchers were encouraged to produce more beef.

Now we have catastrophic fires raging throughout the Amazon which will clear land for beef production but will also damage the last decisive carbon sequestration capacity on the planet.

McCormack stressed that the ICMSA had pointed out that “this is exactly what would happen when Mercosur was announced but our objections were dismissed as those of a vested interest”.

“It was always going to happen and it will go on happening till there’s no incentive for the ranchers to clear forest to produce beef because they’ve no-one to export it to,” he stressed.

“Beef should never have been included in Mercosur and that’s as obvious as the fires themselves,” concluded McCormack.