Farmers to take to the streets as threat of EU beef deal with South Americans looms
Farmers are set to take to the streets tomorrow in protest over a looming trade deal between the EU and a host of South American countries.
Reports that the EU plans, this week, to offer trade access to the EU market for 70,000t of beef from Brazil and other South American countries sparked anger from farm organisations.
IFA President, Joe Healy will lead a protest in Dublin against the deal which he has described as a major mistake given what he said was the huge uncertainty over Brexit and the ongoing scandals in Brazil over their failure to meet EU standards.
The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said today he is "extremely concerned with what appears to be happening in relation to the deal". However, he cautioned that it is not a done deal yet.
He said that the Government has been extremely active in raising concerns about the proposed deal, particularly because of Brexit but also because the consumption of beef in the EU is static.
The prospect of allowing tariff-free quotas for some of the world’s largest producers of beef and sugar, which is turned into ethanol, has rattled some EU members.
A group of 11 countries led by France and Ireland have proposed postponing the offer, saying they were particularly vulnerable to imports of beef, ethanol, sugar and poultry.
The countries said that before making an offer the cumulative impact of past and future trade deals on the agricultural sector should be assessed and safeguard mechanisms put in place.
“I‘m very much in favor of a trade deal with Mercosur, but I would like to see standards protected and our beef farmers protected as well,” Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told reporters at a summit of EU leaders in Estonia on Friday.
Meanwhile, the President of ICMSA has said the reported deal has to be seen as representing the sacrifice of the EU beef sector in general and the Irish beef sector in particular.
Mr John Comer said that the 11 countries that had stood against the offer must now band together and make it plain to the Commission that the reported offer cannot proceed, he said that the Irish position was the most vulnerable with in excess of 50% of all our beef going to a UK market about which there was little or no certainty after 2019.
However, gaining access to public contracts in the Mercosur bloc, a market worth some 150 billion euros ($177 billion) in Brazil alone, is seen as an unmissable prize by others.
Germany, Italy, Spain and five other countries wrote to the European Commission urging it to make a good offer to Mercosur, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
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