In this file:
· Ireland could ‘frustrate’ South American countries in beef deal, Creed says
· Mercosur not a 'done deal', Minister tells Dáil
· Irish farmers lobby politicians against Mercosur deal
· Protesting farmers say beef industry ‘as good as dead’
Ireland could ‘frustrate’ South American countries in beef deal, Creed says
Minister repeats claims they could ‘thwart, limit, frustrate’ South American countries
Marie O'Halloran, The Irish Times
July 9, 2019
Ireland has the opportunity to ensure legally watertight conditions are included in the EU trade agreement with the Mercosur countries that they will “struggle to meet,” Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said.
He repeated comments he made last week that that they could “thwart, limit and frustrate” the ambition of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay on the section of the trade agreement dealing with beef, which he described as “really challenging” for Irish farmers.
He told the Opposition it was important “not to get into the trap of talking about this agreement as if it is a done deal”.
There were heated exchanges as Mr Creed and Minister for Business Heather Humphreys responded to the Opposition during a two-hour question and answer session in the Dáil.
Mr Creed repeatedly stated that “this is not a done deal”.
The debate followed the announcement 12 days ago of the agreement after 20 years of negotiation. It includes major trade opportunities for a number of industries but as currently drafted will have most impact in agricultures because of the section agreeing the importation to the EU of 90,000 tonnes of beef, 180 tonnes of poultry meat and 25,000 tonnes of pig meat a year.
Ms Humphreys said that trade deals had been good for Ireland and last year Ireland exported €316 billion in goods and services, an increase of 74 per cent over the last five years. She said 60 Irish companies were involved in the automotive sector, one of the areas set to benefit hugely in the deal with the export of European cars to South America.
Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Charlie McConalogue said the agreement demonstrated the “failure of the Irish Government” and EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan to ensure the deal was balanced for Ireland.
He accused the Minister of “fudging the issue” about whether it would be full carcasses that would be imported or prime steak cuts.
Mr Creed told him the only thing agreed was 55 per cent fresh and 45 per cent frozen beef. He believed that the carcass equivalent weight referred to a full carcass not bits of it, and they had the opportunity to ensure this was the case.
Meeting the challenges ...
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Mercosur not a 'done deal', Minister tells Dáil
By Aisling Kenny, Rte.ie (Ireland)
9 Jul 2019
The Minister for Agriculture has said the Mercosur trade deal must not be spoken about as if it is a done deal.
Michael Creed the heads of agreement had been negotiated but it had not been approved by the European Parliament or by a single member state.
The Mercosur deal includes access for 100,000 tonnes of beef imports into the European Union from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
It would also see the four Mercosur countries slash tariffs on products coming from the EU like cars, cheese and wine.
In exchange products like beef and poultry from South America would be allowed into Europe with no tarrifs.
Farming unions say they are not happy and they say it will result in cheap beef flooding the EU market.
Speaking in the Dáil, Minister Creed said that 99,000 tonnes of beef coming from South America was a concern.
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys said she has regonised the concerns farmers have in relation to the deal.
She said it was a deal that had been negotiated at EU level and the Government consistently raised concerns in relation to beef access.
Ms Humphreys said the Government had sought to achieve the best deal possible for farmers and that the Taoiseach had joined with other EU levels in expressing concerns about beef access.
She said the Mercosur countries were initially looking for a beef quota of 300,000 tonnes and this deal provides for 99,000 tonnes which she said is less than a third of what they originally sought.
She said the agreement on beef access was more than the Government wanted...
Irish farmers lobby politicians against Mercosur deal
via Irish Examiner - July 09, 2019
Hundreds of farmers descended on Dublin on Tuesday urging the Government not to “sell them out”.
Twenty nine Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) county executives from across Ireland visited the city’s Davenport Hotel for a two-hour conference to “intensively lobby” politicians against the EU Commission’s Mercosur trade deal.
The European Commission agreed the deal last month, after two decades of negotiations and despite strong opposition from Italian, Spanish, French, Irish and Polish livestock sectors.
The deal could see an extra 99,000 tonnes of beef, 18,000 tonnes of poultry and 25 tonnes of pork imported from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, a development that Irish farmers say could decimate the industry.
The Irish farming lobby argue that the beef produced in Ireland is of the highest standard, and the import of South American meat will introduce unfair competition with producers who do not abide by similar standards, due to far less demanding health, traceability and environmental requirements.
Shane Galvin from Limerick, who has worked on his family beef farm since the age of four, says the trip to Dublin was vital to drive home the message that the deal must be stopped.
“We have to make them understand how important this is to rural Ireland,” he said.
“The EU are trying to flex their muscles against (US President Donald) Trump in case of any kind of trade war, but it’s a reckless deal when you compare it with the fact that we don’t know what will happen with Brexit.
“Three hundred thousand tonnes of Irish beef goes to the UK, if it’s a hard Brexit – where is that beef going to go?
“Now they’re talking about bringing in more cheap beef and poultry, it’ll all have a massive knock- on effect.
“Outside of this, if it’s a hard Brexit, the number of beef farmers will have to halve or quarter.
“When the cheaper meat comes in, it’ll drive the price of Irish meat down, we’re already in a loss making situation...
Protesting farmers say beef industry ‘as good as dead’
Farmers gather at Dáil to protest at Mercosur trade deal
Ellen O'Riordan, The Irish Times
July 10, 2019
Over a thousand farmers gathered at Leinster House on Wednesday in protest against rural Ireland austerity and the Mercosur trade deal, which is seen by many producers as the “final nail in the coffin” of the Irish beef sector.
Many farmers said they would not take the deal lying down, warning that politicians who don’t listen will pay the price at the next general election.
The Beef Plan Movement, the farmers’ voluntary group behind the event, instructed protesters to bring wellies to leave behind outside the Dáil, to symbolise the death knell of their industry.
A trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, which was 20 years in the making, will see 99,000 tonnes of South American beef allowed into the European market each year.
Beef Plan’s vice chairman, Hugh Doyle, railed against the hypocrisy of the European Union, in which bovine-meat- already attacked for its high emissions- will be flown across continents and with fears the deal will lead to increased deforestation in the Rainforest.
Referencing the environmental broadcaster David Attenborough, he asked how a deal could be struck where money trumped the environment. Mr Doyle said the Government should be “harnessing” what agriculture can do for the environment, and farmers would welcome advancements like methane-to-fuel conversion.
Speaking to The Irish Times, he said the beef industry was being used as a “sacrificial lamb” and the Government should be up-front about this.
“We are very angry because decisions are being taken without our input. At the end of the day, we have nothing to lose here because our industry is as good as dead.”
While retailers and processors have raked in handsome profits, beef producers have suffered years of squeezed profit margins, Mr Doyle said. If farmers cannot make ends meet, rural parts of the country will be hollowed into extinction, he added...
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