'Spin over substance' - FF hits out at delay of report into beef trade deal

Fianna Fail's Charlie McConalogue.
Fianna Fail's Charlie McConalogue.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

FIANNA Fáil has accused the Government of attempting to pull the wool over farmers' eyes by delaying a report on the impact of the EU's planned Mercosur trade deal.

The deal with a number of South American countries including Argentina and Brazil has raised fears the European market will be flooded with South American beef.

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And yesterday Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Charlie McConalogue accused the Government of playing politics by kicking the sensitive issue into touch until after the next general election.

He said Agriculture Minister Michael Creed had confirmed to him via parliamentary questions that the Government-commissioned economic impact assessment report on the deal will not be completed until next summer.

"Fine Gael has decided to place spin over substance and avoid any negative coverage by a potentially damaging report on the Mercosur deal being completed before the election," he said.

"The Government has let down beef farmers horrendously in the run-up to the Mercosur political agreement and failed to put up any fight with like-minded countries in acquiescing to the EU's increased offer of 99,000 tons of beef access for South American countries.

"This deal will likely reduce beef prices further, farm incomes and damage the environment.

"It undermines EU climate change policy with large volumes of South American beef entering the EU market from less carbon efficient production models."

Recently, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned that Ireland will seek to block the Mercosur trade deal between the EU and South American countries unless Brazil protects the Amazon rainforest.

However, new EU Trade Commissioner and former Fine Gael Minister Phil Hogan has been a staunch defender of the deal.

Mr Hogan has insisted that there are safeguards in place to protect beef farmers who fear an influx of cheap South American meat in the wake of Mercosur.

Irish Independent