Renewed calls for Government to reject Mercosur trade deal

The IFA’s National Chairman, Jer Bergin, has called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to reject outright the draft offer from the EU for increased imports from the Mercosur countries.

This comes on the back of Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the body that represents the meat processors, calling for the Irish Government to intervene in the deal.

Bergin said that at the EU Farm Council meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, Minister Coveney must reject outright any exchange of offers.

“He must make it abundantly clear that Ireland cannot accept such a deal, which is totally negative for Irish agriculture, and particularly damaging for our €2.5 billion beef sector.

“The deal will also impact on the pigmeat and poultry sectors.”

The Minister must work closely with his French counterpart to build further opposition among Member States and prevent any exchange of offers on sensitive products, which include beef.

The EU draft offer is based on a TRQ (Tariff rate quota) of 78,000t of beef, of which 39,000t is high quality beef at a tariff rate of 7.5%.

Bergin said that previous analysis by the European Commission has shown that a Mercosur deal would inflict losses of €7.8 billion on the EU agriculture sector.

“The individual losses at farm level would be much higher, particularly for beef farmers. This would have a major knock-on effect on rural economies, resulting in job losses.”

The IFA National Chairman said EU beef consumption has fallen by over 500,000t since 2010.

“The European market cannot absorb additional volumes of imports without a very negative effect on prices and farm incomes.

“A new impact assessment of a Mercosur trade deal for European agriculture is urgently required and should be discussed in both the Council of Ministers and European Parliament before proceeding with any further Mercosur negotiations.”

Minister Coveney must stand up for beef farmers

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein Agriculture Spokesperson Martin Ferris has called on the Minister to “do his job and stand up for Irish beef farmers”.

“I am very concerned by reports that the European Commission is offering the Mercosur countries bigger import quotas for beef to the EU.

“Irish farmers must be protected against unfair competition from countries which do not maintain the high standards demanded and met by Irish farmers and consumers and which are obligatory in the EU.

““Does Simon Coveney think that our own beef farmers, who have struggled to survive low beef prices and unfair penalisation by the big processors can now be asked to compete with duty-free imports from Latin America?”