– South American beef deal could be catastrophic for Border Region farming sector –
Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan, Brendan Smith, has said the Minister for Agriculture and Taoiseach must oppose any ratification of the Mercosur deal as it could spell disaster for beef farmers in Ireland.
It was announced in recent days that negotiators from the European Union and the South American Mercosur trading block have agreed a trade deal.
Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “This deal has taken almost 20 years to negotiate and Irish farmers have opposed the proposals in it every step of the way. The deal has always had the potential to damage Irish farming but combined with the possible loss of trade in the British market as a result of Brexit, Mercosur could prove catastrophic.
“In some respects, it is no surprise the government have not advocated stronger on behalf of our beef sector given how out of touch they are with the sector.
“This deal will see 99,000 tonnes of South American beef allowed into the European market every year. This will have a huge impact on prices, at a time when beef farmers are already struggling with prices on the floor.
“Minister Creed knows that this is a bad deal for Ireland. He must engage with his European counterparts to ensure that there is no decision to ratify this deal given that we do not know what the full impact of Brexit will be.
“We export around 270,000 tonnes of beef to the UK every year, will our farmers now have to compete with cheap South American imports in a post-Brexit scenario?
“This is an exceptionally volatile period and I believe the EU should not take any decisions on this deal until the full post-Brexit scenario is known”, concluded Deputy Smith.