Multiple Galway TDs are calling on all of Ireland’s representatives to oppose a beef trade deal negotiated by the EU with a bloc of South American countries.
The Mercosur trade deal between the EU and Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay covers a wide array of goods and services including the beef sector.
One of the measures in the proposed deal would allow 99,000 tonnes of beef from those South American countries to enter the EU at a preferential tariff rate.
This has gone down extremely badly across Ireland as political and farming representatives feel that the agricultural sector has been let down to protect industrial interests.
Galway TDs Michael Fitzmaurice, Seán Canney, and Denis Naughten have all called for Ireland’s representative on the EU stage to work towards getting the proposals in their current form changed.
Galway East TD Seán Canney said that “these are not good proposals for the Irish beef industry.”
He added that while international trade deals are important, it is “regrettable” that preferential tariffs are being offered for beef imports from outside the bloc “particularly in light of the challenges presented by Brexit”.
Michael Fitzmaurice went further and said that this deal would “send the beef price in Ireland into a further downward spiral” in a massive threat to farmers already struggling.
He added that the €1 billion support package that has been proposed to keep Irish beef farmers afloat after Brexit “wouldn’t come close to counter acting the fall out that will result if this deal goes through.”
“This deal flies in the face of what the old EU stood for; community. This deal will devastate rural communities, particularly in the west of Ireland where suckler and beef farming are prevalent.”
Galway-Roscommon TD Denis Naughten added that the agreement “not only undermines the livelihoods of farmers but is also damaging to our climate”.
“The EU already produces enough beef to meet its needs and beef production in the EU is four times more carbon efficient than Brazilian beef imports,” stated Deputy Naughten.
He added that 11% of the emissions from food production are directly linked to transportation, and with that in mind it makes more sense from a climate perspective to source food from within the bloc where possible.
“The EU & its Member States cannot accept a situation where trade agreements lead to an overall increase in global emissions, by shutting down production in Europe and pushing up emissions in other parts of the world.”
Deputy Fitzmaurice called on the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan; the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar; and all of Ireland’s MEPs to reject this agreement.
“Commissioner Hogan tried to downplay the impact this agreement would have on farmers here, but in reality the deal is mutton dressed as lamb.”
“It is time for Varadkar and Hogan, along with our MEPs, to fight the corner for Irish farmers. I am also calling on Varadkar to hold a vote on the topic in the Dail chambers as soon as possible so that there can be no confusion surrounding our stance on this matter,” he concluded.