The trade deals the UK is doing are as much a threat to Irish farmers as Europe’s long-touted Mercosur trade deal with South America, according to Minister of State for new market development, Martin Heydon.

“I have a very big focus on the UK and the trade deals they’re doing. That’s every bit as much a focus for us as Mercosur.

“Mercosur has been rocking around for 25 years and still hasn’t been brought in for a very good reason, because we have had our defensive interests in this area,” he said.

He warned that Irish agriculture cannot become “complacent” about its foothold in the UK market, with 30% of all Irish food and drink and 50% of its beef exported there.

Ireland needs to meet its climate goals which Minister Heydon said was a “smart play”? to retain market access, adding: “We’ll never compete with other large countries like Brazil in terms of volume.”

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