South American trade deal described as ‘hypocrisy’

 The president of an Irish farm lobby group has accused the European Commission of “hypocrisy” for doing a trade deal with South America.

The president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Joe Healy said yesterday’s protest “conveyed a very strong message” to Gerry Kiely, the head of the European Commission in Ireland.

Healy said: “The commission has no credibility if they want to pursue a trade deal with a Mercosur group that has no regard for standards, the environment or labour laws.

This flies in the face of the EU’s own climate policy; this is utter hypocrisy.

“The Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office has repeatedly found that the Brazilian authorities, in particular, fail to meet EU standards on animal welfare, traceability, food safety and the environment,” he said.

“The EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, has to stand up for Irish and European farmers and not allow EU negotiators to show such a blatant disregard for EU standards.”

As part of IFA’s campaign, Healy and the livestock chairman Angus Woods met the Chef de Cabinet DG Trade in Brussels last week, where they set out IFA’s outright opposition to any deal.

Healy was very critical of the seven prime ministers who he says “are turning a blind eye to low standards and are intent on giving the Brazilian President Balsonaro a free licence to continue destroying the environment”.

Livestock chair

Angus Woods said the EU Commission Joint Research Centre conducted an assessment on the cumulative impact of trade deals which showed that increased imports from Mercosur could cost the EU beef sector €5 billion to €7 billion per annum.

Concluding, Woods said the impact in Ireland would be “proportionately more severe” because of the fact that beef is much more important to Ireland than any other EU member state and we are the largest beef exporter in the EU.