MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, says that confirmation he received that the EU has offered a 70,000 tonne beef quota in Mercosur negotiations is evidence that the commission is willing to sacrifice one of Ireland’s most important sectors for the sake of a dangerous trade agenda.
The Sinn Féin MEP reiterated his call on the Irish government to withdraw their support for the negotiation mandate.
Carthy was speaking from Brussels where he was facilitating meetings between students from Irish agricultural colleges with representatives from the European Commission and Government Representatives.
He said: “The confirmation I have received proves the worst fears of many beef farmers that the European Commission is willing to sacrifice Irish agriculture in their pursuit of a dangerous trade agenda.
“Many farmers now realise that the 70,000toone offer is not the landing point.
“Indeed, it is an open secret that they are already willing to move as far as 99,000toones and could yet agree to move closer to the 250,000tn sought by Mercosur negotiators.
“As Mercosur talks go back and forth it is becoming clearer that the commission is now preparing for a deal at any cost now. Regrettably, despite bluster from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael representatives, the Irish government is endorsing this position.
“Never has there been such a coherent opposition to a single trade deal in the European Union. Farmers do not want this and a significant number of public representatives are on record as saying they don’t either.
“However public opposition has barely put a speed bump in the Commission’s plans to open up Southern American markets for corporate interests and particularly the German car industry.
“Agriculture has been the flash point of these negotiations since the very beginning and farmers are well aware that an agreement is hinged on their sector’s sacrifices. It is downright hypocritical for the Agriculture Commissioner and Irish Government to claim to care about increasing farming incomes in ongoing CAP discussions while also selling them out on trade negotiations.
“The European Union has only recently removed seven more Brazilian meat and poultry plants from its list of authorised suppliers due to deficiencies in the official controls system. Yet international concerns about Brazilian exports seems to have had no impact whatsoever on the Government’s continued support for the mandate for these negotiations.
“I will soon be submitting amendments to a European Parliament Report on the effects of globalisation on the agricultural sector. I will be calling for more attention and tools to protect farmers on global markets rather than continued exposure.
“However, what is required is for the Irish government to defend the interests of our vital, and vulnerable, farming community. They must demand a halt in the Mercosur negotiations immediately.”