The current negotiations for an EU trade deal with the South American trading block Mercosur is “hypocritical” and at odds with the climate change restrictions placed on EU farmers, according to the ICSA.

Edmund Graham, the association’s beef chairman, said that the negotiations ignore the “massive environmental downside” of importing Brazilian beef.

“We are very concerned that there appears to be momentum for this kind of deal at the moment,” Graham warned.

Mercosur negotiations make a mockery of the EU climate strategy.

Graham argued that a deal would be an “unmitigated disaster” for the Irish beef sector, something he said the ICSA has highlighted to EU negotiators.

“The risk is all the more pronounced because of Brexit uncertainty,” he stressed.

“After the launch of the Government’s climate action plan, it is extremely frustrating to see all sorts of potential costs being imposed on farmers and other rural dwellers, while EU leaders ignore the climate impact of replacing EU beef with imported South American beef,” said Graham.

The climate action plan indicates that Irish farmers will be expected to plant more trees. Yet the importation of more South American beef will lead to further destruction of the rainforest.

He argued that the further loss of the rainforests in South America will have more environmental impacts “than anything we can possibly compensate for in Europe”.

The ICSA beef chair also referenced alleged human rights abuses as another reason that a potential deal should be questioned.

“If a deal is agreed in principle by [EU Commissioner for Trade] Malmstrom, then ICSA will be putting extreme pressure on all members of the Oireachtas to vote it down,” said Graham.

He concluded his remarks by stressing: “All EU parliaments have to ratify a major trade deal like this. We will not accept any prevarication on holding a Dáil vote on it.”