The silence of the EU Commission on the burning of the Amazon rainforest has been criticised by the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) livestock chairman.

Angus Woods acknowledged comments from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that Ireland will block a Mercosur deal because of the rainforests, but said: “It is time the EU Commission stood up to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Europe will not tolerate the burning of the rainforests to clear land for more beef exports as part of the Mercosur deal.

He said: “President Bolsonaro and his government have literally put a match to the Amazon rainforests and told the European Union ‘to mind its own business’.”

Woods outlined the destruction of the rainforests that is taking place saying: “An area the size of a football pitch is burned down every minute to clear the ground for grazing and cattle ranching.”

Since January this year, Brazil has had more than 74,000 fires in the Amazon rainforests, an 83% increase on 2018, according to the The National Institute for Space Research in Brazil (INPE).

Woods noted that when the EU/Mercosur trade deal was done in June, the IFA highlighted the failure of Brazil and others to meet EU standards and the environmental damage to the rainforests.

This was strongly rejected by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, who said “no beef will be allowed enter the EU market unless it complies 100% with EU standards” and “the agreement includes a binding commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement”.

Concluding, Woods claimed president Bolsonaro “encourages farmers to clear the land and he has accused environmental groups of setting fire to the forests”.