'This deal is bad for us' - IFA calls for rethink by the EU
Farmers are demanding answers from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as beef prices fall and details of the Mercosur deal emerge.
The deal will see an extra 99,000 tonnes of beef from the four Mercosur countries - Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay - gain access to EU markets, a move that Irish farmers say is a "sell-out" to South America.
Farming organisations say the 99,000 tonnes of extra beef coming into the European Union from South America will not just damage Irish beef farming, but also the environment.
While the deal won't take effect for a number of years, industry organisations here say Irish farmers are already breaking their backs meeting traceability standards, Quality Assurance schemes and environmental requirements to suit the powerful car sector.
IFA president Joe Healy has sought an urgent meeting with Mr Varadkar over the contentious deal negotiated between the EU and the South American group of countries last week in Brussels.
He said Irish farmers were already reeling from Brexit uncertainty and the EU-Mercosur deal paved the way for an increase in imports of cheaper beef from South America, one that could cost them as much as €750m.
"This is a bad deal for Irish farmers. The Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed must stand up and fight for beef farmers at European level," he added.
The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association president Colm O'Donnell said the trade deal would "accelerate the ongoing destruction of the rainforests at the very time Commissioner [Phil] Hogan is suggesting that Irish farmers should plant more trees".
Mr O'Donnell claimed that "big industry will trump the environment, our farmers and our rural communities" as a result.
"This is a U-turn on the line the EU give on the need to protect all of these. It also undermines EU standards on food safety as we cannot guarantee the true origin of the beef and all the associated risks that goes with this."
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