Farm groups welcome Oireachtas opposition to Mercosur deal

Two of the country’s leading farmer organisations have welcomed the new Oireachtas report on the future for the beef sector, specifically its rejection of a potential Mercosur trade deal.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) called on the Government to follow the lead of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine and firmly state its opposition to a deal.

Edmund Graham, chairperson of the ICSA’s beef committee, said it is “rank hypocrisy for the EU to insist on challenging climate change targets while supporting the importation of surplus beef from South America, involving the cutting down of rainforest.

ICSA is calling on the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee to immediately convey a very strong message to the Taoiseach that the members of the committee will vote against any Mercosur deal that damages our beef sector.

“In turn the Taoiseach needs to make it clear at EU level that Ireland will reject a bad Mercosur deal,” Graham argued.

The ICSA beef chair said he welcomed the “focus on tighter regulation of the food chain and examination of who makes what from the beef animal”.

However, he stipulated that this would have to be a “collaborative effort at EU level”.

ICSA welcomes the support for live exports and the need for a dedicated section in the department to help live exports.

Concluding, Graham welcomed the recommendation to seek protected geographic indication (PGI) status for suckler beef, but warned that a PGI status for the “entire national herd, including dairy-sourced cattle would do nothing to support a viable suckler sector”.

IFA

Angus Woods, national livestock chairman with the IFA, said that the committee members must make “crystal clear” that they will vote down a Mercosur deal if it comes before the Dáil.

He added that the committee should have used the report to call on Minister Michael Creed to direct the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to investigate the sector.

He also said it was a “missed opportunity” not to recommend supports for the suckler sector.

On the Common Agriculture Policy, woods called on the committee to make it clear to the minister and the Government that a cut in the policy’s budget should not be accepted.

He concluded by welcoming the recommendations to give further support to live exports.

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