‘Mercosur consensus falling apart’ – ICSA

The “consensus in favour of a Mercosur deal” around Europe is “starting to fall apart”, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Edmond Phelan, the association’s president, was reacting to the news that the parliament of Austria had recently voted to oppose the deal.

Phelan said that the vote was significant in light of the fact that Austria is not a major exporter of beef, and “was not one of the more vociferous opponents of the deal”, suggesting that the deal might also hit stumbling blocks in countries were opposition to the trade agreement has been stronger.

It seems that there is increasing unease that the costs outweigh the benefits, particularly on environmental grounds. In simple terms, Mercosur means more cars sold to South America in return for more beef shipped to Europe, even though our markets are already saturated.

“In particular, the less sustainable South American beef will displace much more sustainable Irish beef at a huge cost to rural communities in Ireland,” the ICSA president said.

Phelan also claimed that “from an EU perspective, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Brazilians cannot be trusted to look after the Amazon rainforest and therefore, the EU is potentially culpable for rainforest destruction”.

Phelan argued that, if the deal is eventually ratified and goes through, then the EU will “loose all moral authority to be a leader on climate change”.

The EU cannot expect European farmers to cut back for reasons of climate change while encouraging the expansion of Brazilian beef.

Phelan concluded his comments by remarking: “ICSA is now calling on the Taoiseach to remove all ambiguity from his recent statements on Mercosur and make a clear statement that Ireland will not support this deal, which has already been shown to be a disaster from the perspective of rural Ireland.”

The Taoiseach was at the 2019 National Ploughing Championships yesterday, Thursday, September 19, where he said: “If we see the kind of behaviour we’ve seen in Brazil in terms of the rainforests in the last few months, the deal is off.”

Leo Varadkar was speaking to Joe Healy, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) yesterday.

The Taoiseach added: “[Other European countries] are totally of the view that South American countries have to do all that we’re doing on climate change, and also we have to have the same standards in terms of traceabilty, quality, all of those things.”