Irish Farmers’ Association urges Commission to stand ground on Mercosur deal

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

IFA takes tough stance on Mercosur

Related tags Beef

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has called on European agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan to prevent EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom from making any additional offers to the Brazilians in the Mercosur trade negotiations.

IFA president Joe Healy said Malmstrom had already “gone way too far in her reckless sell-out of European beef farmers for the benefit of Brazilian big business and the European auto sector”​.

He accused her of being “naive and of being misled by the Brazilians in the trade talks​”.

“The only thing we have seen from Commissioner Malmstrom in these negotiations is give-away after give-away of the European beef sector, with little or nothing in return,”​ said Healy. “The commissioner has already capitulated to the Brazilians in these negotiations, moving from 45,000 tonnes ​[t] to 70,000t and now reports from Paraguay that the Brazilians are looking for way more. Malmstrom cannot be allowed to give away any more.”

Healy said that Hogan had made it clear that the 70,000t was the only formal offer from the Commission and urged him to dig in on this and not allow Malmstrom to be “rolled again in the negotiations”​.

IFA national livestock chairman Angus Woods added that talk of the EU Commission renegotiating existing TRQ (tariff rate quotas) and giving further concessions to the Brazilians was “nothing short of a three-card trick”​.

Woods accused the trade commissioner of blatantly undermining European policy and values on the environment and animal welfare. “One arm of the Commission is prepared to do this deal and undermine the environment and animal welfare, while European farmers are asked to play their part on climate change and maintain the highest welfare standards.”

He said Irish beef production was four times more carbon-efficient than Brazil, where growth is driven on the back of destruction of the rainforests.

The negotiating strategy flies in the face of everything that the EU stands for, and what is happening in terms of Brexit. Beef is more important to Ireland than any other member state.  Commissioner Hogan cannot agree to a Mercosur deal involving a major increase in substandard beef imports from Brazil at the same time as we face into the serious challenges of Brexit​.

With Brexit, the EU beef market would be 116% self-sufficient. To negotiate a trade deal with Mercosur at this time makes no sense whatsoever​.”

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