The government simply ignore a large protest by farmers which took place outside Leinster House this week insists Galway TD Eugene Murphy.
Deputy Murphy was speaking having stood with farmers from Galway and Rsocommon who held a protest outside the Dáil against the Mercosur trade deal.
He commented, “I have a number of concerns regarding this proposed trade deal. Before any ratification it is imperative the government request an impact assessment and an environmental analysis.”
The Fianna Fáil TD asked “How can the Government justify the carbon footprint which the importation of South American beef will cause?”
“We hear of the destruction of thousands of hectares of forestry to sustain beef production in South America. If the Government is serious about climate action then how they justify this Mercosur Deal which to put simply, is bad for the environment and suckler farmers in Ireland.”
The far reaching trade deal between the EU and the Mercosur countries includes the ability of the South American block to import 99,000 tonnes of beef a year at preferential tariff rates.
The environmental impact of beef farming in the Mercosur zone, both through deforestation and the carbon cost of transporting it to Europe, has been a frequent talking point of the farming lobby which is heavily opposed to the deal.
However the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has in the past labelled Ireland the most carbon-intensive beef producer in the world.
Eugene Murphy and other Galway TDs have also said that the Irish beef industry needs special protections due to shockwaves in the market expected from the fallout of Brexit.
He asked “Can the Government stipulate that the Commission should restrict the importation of prime cuts of beef into the Irish market due to our unique vulnerability with the impending Brexit time-bomb?”
“Surely if the larger EU economies wish to export cars and agricultural machinery then they should take the lion’s share of the beef from South America.”
“There are so many unknowns and farmers are fearful. We need the government standing up and advocating for our best interests if this deal is to progress fairly for those in the sector”.
The protest on Wednesday concluded with farmers piling Wellington boots outside the gates of Leinster House.