Wednesday 16 October 2019

Margaret Donnelly: 'So much for the climate emergency - emissions don't count if they're far away'

Support: Emmanuel Macron is happy with the deal. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Support: Emmanuel Macron is happy with the deal. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Make no mistake, the Mercosur deal struck on Friday is bad news for Irish farming and especially the beef sector.

Quite simply the deal not only allows, but in fact encourages, a double-standards trade policy as the gap between what is being asked of European farmers and what is being tolerated by those producing beef in other countries widens.

It also comes at a time when Irish farmers are coming under more and more pressure to produce food in the most environmentally friendly manner.

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Irish and European farmers already have the highest environmental and welfare standards in the world, yet now they must try to compete with countries that have lesser standards and produce on a vast scale, therefore producing beef far more cheaply.

For years, scientists have focused on the destruction of South American forests for farming as one of the biggest threats to global warming.

To allow more beef to go on to EU shelves shows no regard for the hoops our own farmers have to jump through when it comes to environmental and welfare practices and should not be allowed to happen.

If Ireland and the EU is serious about its environmental credentials, now is not the time to pass the ball to a team that seems to be playing an entirely different sport.

Unfortunately, our usual ally France seems happy with the deal, with President Emmanuel Macron saying it meets their demands, so it's unlikely France will back any Irish opposition to it. Yet Ireland must oppose it.

It's not like this deal hasn't been on and off the table for the past 20 years and fighting for some concessions afterwards shows how unimpressive the Irish political fight has been to date and should not be accepted by Irish farmers.

Just weeks ago, our Taoiseach and his cabinet told us all, especially farmers, that we have to act now and fast on climate change.

This week it seems the actions of farmers in other countries are irrelevant when it comes to the environment.

The Government should not expect Irish beef farmers to jump on its green bandwagon or reward them with votes.

If we want to have any beef industry in this country, the Government must act now.

Irish Independent

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