Mercosur ‘the potential death knell for Ireland’s beef industry’

The Mercosur trade deal is “the potential death knell for Ireland’s specialised quality beef industry” according to Macra na Feirme President Sean Finan.

That will be the case if the suggested EU’s annual Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) of 78,000t of hormone-free beef forms part of any trade deal, he said.

Finan described the EU’s negotiating strategy and suggestions of offering 78,000t of sensitive product as “totally irresponsible towards Ireland and Europe’s beef farmers”.

The Macra President welcomed the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney’s firm stance against the EU offer and called on him to continue to representative the best interests of Irish farmers in opposing any Mercosur deal.

He also called on Commissioner Hogan to staunchly defend Europe’s sensitive agriculture products from cheap food imports with no guarantee of the same high levels of food safety and animal welfare.

Macra has said that there are also serious concerns for pig farmers with suggestions of 3000t of high value pork products and over 9000t of lower quality cuts being offered as a TRQ.

Finan said that it is time to call a halt to Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström’s sell out of agricultural sensitive products.

Currently, the EU is negotiating a trade deal with the Mercosur trading bloc of South American countries – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

A study by Wageningen University in the Netherlands showed that while the overall economic impacts of a trade deal are positive on both sides, economic losses for the EU fall heavily on the agricultural sector.

It said that the EU’s meat sector would be the biggest loser if the sides reached a deal.

The IFA has said Mercosur trade deal would cost European agriculture €36 billion.

It says that a EU/Mercosur deal could reduce Irish beef prices by at least 30% or €1.00/kg, which would inflict losses of up to €500m in Ireland alone.