Government must assert opposition to beef deal in Mercosur discussions – Fianna Fail

REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

FarmIreland Team

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture and Food Charlie McConalogue has said he is highly concerned about reports that beef will be included in the final deal between the EU and South American Mercosur countries.

He said any such move could have a potentially catastrophic impact on our beef sector here, and could threaten the quality of produce entering the EU market.

“The Government has been quick to amplify concerns about a deal including beef; however statements by the Taoiseach and Minister Creed have resisted putting their objections to any deal which includes beef quotas on record”, said Deputy McConalogue.

“The fact that the talks are continuing would indicate that there may be political support for the measure at Member State and Commission level – and this needs to be urgently addressed.

“Beef should not form any part of the final deal, especially given the Brazilian meat scandal this year.  Combine inferior food standards as well as loss of existing market share and it should be obvious to consumers and producers alike that any deal involving South American beef should be avoided.

“While we support fair trade deals that are in our national interest, a Mercosur deal that incudes beef fails this test absolutely.

“Irish beef farmers are already facing huge challenges – they will be left completely exposed in the event of a hard Brexit as 50% of all exports are UK bound, and the return of any WTO tariffs would make this market prohibitive.

“The Taoiseach, along with Irish representatives at Council level, must make it clear that we will not support any final deal that sacrifices European and Irish beef farmers at December’s European Summit meeting”.

It comes as European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan last week vehemently denied reports that the EU has offered access to the European market for up to 98,000t of beef from Mercosur trading bloc.

The European Union is pushing to conclude free trade talks with South American bloc Mercosur by the end of the year,  despite reservations from a number of Member States over the surge of farm imports an agreement would bring.

At the last round of negotiations the EU is understood to have offered to allow 70,000t of beef and 600,000t of ethanol to enter the EU with lower tariffs.

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