Mercosur deal would ‘shatter’ EU climate credentials – ICMSA

A trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur – the South American trading block – for agri-food products would “shatter” Europe’s credibility on climate action, according to the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

Pat McCormack, the association’s president, warned that if South American beef is allowed into Europe, it would be “an absolute disaster for both farmers and the global environment”.

He also claimed that a trade deal being forced through would be a win for “big business” over the interest of family farms and the environment.

By any environmental measurement, EU beef, and specifically Irish beef, has a far superior environmental footprint than Mercosur beef. Irish and EU farmers are being challenged to further improve our footprint, with a substantial proportion of the regulation and pressure coming from the EU Commission.

McCormack said that Irish and EU farmers were “responding positively” to climate change demands, despite, he noted, the lack of adequate financial returns on their produce.

“Low-cost imports that meet much lower environmental standards are keeping the price of food at unsustainably low and unrealistic levels,” he argued.

These “brazen contradictions” in the EU have made farmers “extremely angry”, McCormack claimed.

On the one hand, we have more regulation on an almost constant basis being imposed on EU farmers at huge financial and farm management cost and without the marketplace returning an extra cent for their efforts.

“On the other hand, the EU now appears to be prepared to allow additional access for Mercosur beef into the EU market with absolutely no environment or climate change commitments,” he added.

“Is the EU prepared to sell out its farm families and global climate change for big business? As of now, the answer would appear to be ‘yes’,” the ICMSA president claimed.

McCormack called on the Government to “build alliances” and make its opposition to a Mercosur deal clear.

The EU must remove any additional access for beef from the negotiating table, and build in environment and climate change commitments for existing access.

“They have to do that if they are to be fair to their own farmers and the interests of the environment,” concluded McCormack.