An Independent TD for the Galway/Roscommon constituency has said that the European negotiating team involved in the Mercosur trade deal agreement “has totally betrayed Irish farmers”.
Reacting to the draft agreement, Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice said: “Irish farmers have been betrayed in favour of large car manufacturers based in mainland Europe.
Suckler and beef farmers in Ireland have been completely thrown under the bus as part of this agreement.
“This deal flies in the face of what the old EU stood for; community.
“It seems as if the European negotiating team is willing to sacrifice the thousands of small family farms in Ireland in favour of the larger industrial sectors.”
Traceability and quality
Fitzmaurice lamented the fact that Irish and EU farmers are beholden to such high-quality standards in terms of traceability and safety, while measures are much less stringent in the Mercosur bloc.
Continuing, he added: “Farmers in Ireland take great pride in their work and thousands of them strive to meet standards under Bord Bia’s quality assurance schemes.
Just over two years ago, it was discovered that some of the largest meat processors in Brazil had been selling rotten beef and poultry.
“This was an international scandal, with senior government officials in Brazil even getting caught up in the fall out.
“Is it any wonder that Irish farmers are at their wits end when they hear that EU beef imports from countries such as this could increase over a five-year period?” he questioned
Europe is almost self-sufficient when it comes to beef, so it is beggars belief that the European Commission is allowing the increase to be a part of this agreement.
Given the prevalence of discussions around climate change and the environment, Fitzmaurice believes the inclusion of this increase is “detrimental”.
What sort of carbon footprint will this beef have by the time it reaches a plate in Europe?
“As well as this, farmers in South America are felling large swathes of rainforests to expand their agricultural operations while Irish farmers are continually being encouraged to plant forestry on their land. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Concluding, Fitzmaurice called on: the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan; the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar; and all of Ireland’s MEPs to “reject this agreement”.
With the Irish beef sector already trying to cope with the challenges posed by Brexit, this deal with the Mercosur bloc could spell the end for a lot of Irish farmers.
“The €1 billion support package mentioned by Commissioner Hogan wouldn’t come close to counteracting the fall out that will result if this deal goes through.
“Farmers deserve to get a fair price for their quality produce. But this deal with the Mercosur bloc would only send the beef price in Ireland into a further downward spiral.
It is time for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Hogan, along with our MEPs, to fight the corner for Irish farmers.
“I am also calling on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to hold a vote on the topic in the Dáil chambers as soon as possible so that there can be no confusion surrounding our stance on this matter.”