Beef sector will be the big loser on trade deals
Beef farmers will be the main losers in future free trade deals, an EU report has found.
The long-awaited study into the effects of 12 future trade deals on agriculture found that EU beef imports could rise by 146,000 to 356,000 tonnes by 2025, pushing prices down by 8pc to 16pc.
The main reason is cheaper imports from the Mercosur bloc - Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela - and, to a lesser extent, Australia.
There is good news for dairy, which could see price rises of 9pc to 16pc by 2025, largely as a result of cheeses and skimmed milk powder exports to Mercosur, Turkey, Japan and the USA.
EU agriculture chief Phil Hogan said last week that the finding should strengthen the EU's hand in trade talks and that other countries should "moderate their expectations" of the EU.
"This study certainly gives us a lot more ammunition in terms of any negotiations that we would have with countries like Mercosur," Mr Hogan told reporters in Brussels.
But Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said that position was "delusional, to say the least" and that the study was "damning for the Irish agricultural sector".