Mercosur deal would be 'disastrous' for Ireland's Climate Action Plan warns farm organisations

A sign reading
A sign reading "Mercosur = a gift to multinationals" is pictured on a tractor during a protest by Belgian farmers outside a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Brussels, Belgium on Monday. Photo: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

A Mercosur deal would be completely ‘contradictory’ and ‘disastrous’ in light of Ireland’s recently published Climate Action Plan, farm organisations have warned.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, French President Emmanuel Macron, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel sent a letter to EU Commission President Junker on Monday outlining their ‘deep concerns’ that the EU will table a beef quota offer to Mercosur of 99,000 tonnes at the end of next week.

The impending deal is also expected to offer more market access to the Mercosur countries on sugar, ethanol and other agri-food products at the end of next week.

ICMSA president Pat McCormack stated that a possible Merocur deal has to be stopped if Ireland wants to achieve targets set out in the Climate Action Plan earlier this week.

“Just days after Ireland launched its own Climate Change Plan, how are we meant to take our plan and the science that underpins it seriously when the EU is considering concluding an agreement that could result in a catastrophic escalation in the forest clearance that is the basis of South  American beef production?” said Mr McCormack. 

“What is the point in urging the public and EU farmers to change practices if we are to deal with climate change while agreeing to a deal that’s going to see one of the planet’s most blatant environmental threats actually worsen?”

IFA president Joe Healy also added that given the publication of the Climate Action Plan this week it would be “completely contradictory to sign a deal that would allow more beef from South America to enter the EU.

 “The letter says that the Mercosur countries must comply with EU environmental standards. They don’t, and both the Taoiseach and the EU Commission know this, because they have the evidence.” pointed out Mr Healy.

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IFA president Joe Healy stated that while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s letter to the EU Commission urged for no further quota increases to be tabled for South American beef, he said allowing the deal to go through would be ‘disastrous’ for Irish farmers especially in the context of  Brexit uncertainty.

“In view of the major Brexit implications overhanging the Irish and EU beef sector and the environmental degradation associated with Brazilian beef exports, it would be reckless to support a Mercosur deal”.

The letter sent by Taoiseach Varadkar and the three EU leaders outlined to the EU Commission highlighted that issues of importing beef, poultry, sugar and ethanol are particularly sensitive to the four countries.

“The import quotas currently negotiated for beef imports could threaten this fragile sector in our countries particularly against the background of the potentially dramatic and negative impact of a disorderly Brexit on EU markets,” the letter said.

“The cumulative effects of quotas negotiated in various trade agreements signed by the Union can ultimately destabilise production and the agricultural sector.”

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