South American deal and Brexit 'disastrous' for Irish beef farmers
Concessions in trade talks to allow a larger influx of South American meat products into Europe would have "disastrous consequences" for the Irish beef industry on top of the "massive uncertainty" over Brexit.
The warning was made to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as talks continue between Brussels and the 'Mercosur countries' of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay on a free trade deal.
The ongoing negotiations come amid fears the Irish agri-food industry will bear the brunt of a hard Brexit.
The Cabinet's Brexit sub-committee will tonight discuss a stark impact study which estimates as many as 12,400 job losses in the sector under one scenario.
Correspondence released to the Irish Independent shows that Meat Industry Ireland (MII) wrote to Mr Varadkar at the end of November outlining the two-prong threat of Mercosur and Brexit.
Chairman Phillip Carroll stressed MII's strong objection to further concession on beef access to the EU beyond "an already excessive quota of 70,000 tonnes".
He argued it isn't the time for an EU-Mercosur trade deal that would result in extra beef imports into Europe given the "massive uncertainty created by Brexit and the clear negative implications of the UK exit from the EU for the Irish beef sector".
He said the beef industry is "the most exposed to Brexit fallout" and Ireland, as the largest exporter of beef to the European market, would be worst hit by an increased volume of South American beef entering the EU.