Creed: 'I can’t veto a Mercosur deal I haven't seen'

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said he can’t veto a Mercosur deal he hasn’t seen yet.

Minister Creed made the comments when questioned by farm organisations at the Climate Change Adaptation Plan Public Consultation launch this morning as to whether he would veto an EU trade deal with Mercosur given the consequences it would have on beef trade in Ireland and also its negative environmental impact.

“I don’t think it’s at a stage where we have even seen a deal, we would have to see what’s in the deal. If the deal doesn’t stick to our paths obviously then issues will come in to play but I can’t say that we'll veto a deal that we haven’t seen,” said Minister Creed.

“I don’t want to avoid the elephant in the room in the context of the points made by farm organisations on Mercosur. The views reflect entirely the views that we have. I’m aware that there is speculation that we are on the cusp of a deal.

“It is concerning, undoubtedly so but we have raised both the environmental issues, the volume issues, the specification issues ourselves with the Commission and we haven’t seen any definitive outcomes yet. We will continue to ensure our voice continues to be heard and reflected in whatever deal is negotiated ultimately.”

ICSA General Secretary Eddie Punch challenged the Minister and Department officials on a possible Mercosur deal which he said would undermine the financial viability of farmers to fund climate change measures.

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

“There’s no doubt that the Climate Action Plan is going to pose a huge challenge to our farming sector. I think farmers have shown they are up to adopting new technologies where appropriate, to try and do things which are sensible for climate change and also sensible on their own farms. 

“Farmers would be all the more up for the challenge if they saw that the EU’s policies were in line with that challenge. Asking farmers to plant trees and keep less livestock seems utterly bizarre when we are proposing to import more beef from South America which will involve cutting down the rainforests there.

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“How do you persuade farmers in Europe that they should do more when they see all the efforts they’re making being undermined by a Mercosur deal which is ironically for the purpose of German car companies to sell more combustion engines in South America?”

Thomas Cooney, IFA’s Environment chair quizzed the Minister on how he would save farmers from a “sell out” Mercosur deal.

One senior official said this week this that this is "the closest to a Mercosur deal being struck as we've ever been at" after almost 20 years of negotiations.

Farming organisations continued to keep pressure on to prevent a deal that they have warned a 100,000 tonnes of beef Mercosur deal will be devastating for the Irish beef sector.

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