EU Commission’s reported Mercosur offer ‘grossly irresponsible’

Speaking to an Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Europe yesterday (Wednesday, October 4), Macra na Feirme President James Healy called the EU’s efforts to secure a trade pact with South America’s Mercosur bloc “grossly irresponsible” and called for a full impact assessment of all EU trade deals.

In his address, Healy said: “The mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles of our members are outside protesting today with the IFA [Irish Farmers’ Association] over beef access into the EU under Mercosur.

“Macra na Feirme supports them in their efforts to highlight the absolutely detrimental impact this would have on Irish and European beef farming.

Negotiating a trade deal with South American countries that has such a potential negative impact on our largest indigenous industry is grossly irresponsible, especially when the impacts of Brexit are still unknown.

Macra na Feirme has announced that it recognises the importance of successful EU trade deals. But such deals should not be made at the cost of sacrificing agriculture, it added.

The organisation has outlined its belief that a full impact assessment on all trade deals – both current and prospective – must be undertaken before any deal is agreed on Mercosur.

Healy continued, noting: “We need balanced trade deals that benefit European and Irish farmers; trade deals that recognise the threats and impacts of Brexit.

“Entering into a Mercosur deal with such a large quantity of the EU beef market available to countries that do not meet equivalent European standards is reckless.”

Farmers the ‘heartbeat of rural life’

Meanwhile, at yesterday’s protest march, the President of the IFA, Joe Healy, highlighted to the many politicians present at the protest that farmers are the “heartbeat of rural life”.

He urged them to remember that fact and to fight on their behalf to prevent Irish and EU farmers – as well as the families they support – being sold out as a result of the Mercosur deal.