AgriLand | 19 March 2016
IFA wants Coveney to defend farmers against potential EU/Mercosur trade deal
by Ciaran Moran
The IFA is calling on Minister Coveney and Ireland’s MEPs to come out strongly against a potential EU/Mercosur deal and in defence of farmers and the agriculture sector.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said it makes no sense whatsoever for the EU to recommence discussions with South American nations (Mercosur), particularly in the context of the ongoing discussion on TTIP with the US and the climate change negotiations.
He said any Mercosur trade deal would be extremely damaging for Irish and European agriculture, and especially our important beef trade.
His comments come as reports in Brussels suggest the EU and Mercosur could be ready to exchange market access offers on a trade agreement as early as next month.
Burns said EU Commission analysis shows that a Mercosur deal would inflict losses of €7.8 billion on the agriculture sector and he said the real losses at farm level would be much higher, particularly for beef farmers.
In the context of the current debate on climate change, Burns said, Irish beef production is based on environmentally sustainable grassland production systems which are between two and four times more efficient than South American production in terms of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
“It would be a total contradiction of EU policy on climate change for Europe to agree a Mercosur deal that replaces sustainable EU beef production for European consumers with product from South America, which has a much higher carbon footprint.”
According to Burns, it is well established that the growth in South American beef exports and particularly exports from Brazil has come about on the back of widespread destruction of the rainforest in the Pantanal and Amazon regions.
“Amazonian deforestation accounts for over 75% of Brazil’s contribution to global warming. Amazon deforestation averaged 2.15m hectares per annum (2000–2005) with 70% to 80% (1.72m ha/pa) attributed to cattle ranching.”