Farmers protest at 'EU sellout' of beef industry in trade deal talks
Farmers took to the streets outside the EU Commission offices to highlight the potential "sellout" of the multi-billion-euro beef industry in trade talks with South American countries.
Concerns have been rising over discussions at EU level over the impact a deal with the Mercosur trade bloc - including the major beef powerhouse Brazil - would have on Ireland's €2.5bn beef industry, which depends on EU markets for over 90pc of its exports.
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA), which staged the protest outside the EU Commission offices in Dublin, described the offer coming from EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström as "reckless concessions".
ICSA President Patrick Kent said the EU Commission has no mandate to push for a trade deal at "such a huge cost" to the European beef sector.
He said they were particularly alarmed at the level of the tariff rate quota, which would see 78,000 tonnes of beef enter Europe at low cost.
There is also concern because this comes on top of potentially similar offers to the US under the separate Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal.
Mr Kent said the EU Commission must "row back" from a proposed deal with the Mercosur-trade bloc of Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Paraguay and Uruguay.
It comes as Meat Industry Ireland (MII), which represents the country's meat processors, warned that demand for beef remained "sluggish" across the EU and the UK.