Growing concerns that Mercosur will be offered further access to the EU beef market has led to Minister of Agriculture Michael Creed writing to European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan.

Recent developments in negotiations between the EU and Mercosur, the trading block of South American countries including major beef exporters Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, have left many feeling a trade deal is imminent.

In a letter to Commissioner Hogan seen by the Irish Farmers Journal, Minister Creed said there was “significant unease” that an unbalanced agreement would have negative consequences for EU agriculture, particularly the beef sector.

70,000t of beef

Outlining his concerns, the Minister said the offer of a beef tariff rate quota (TRQ) of 70,000t did not take account of the Commission’s own conclusions reached in November 2016 on the affect it would have on the EU beef market.

He said Brexit, and the potentially damaging impact it could have, was also not factored into the offer.

Minister Creed firmly stated that no further concession can be made.

Climate responsibilites

He called on the Commission to clarify what offer was made by Mercosur in relation to improved access for EU dairy, which had been one of the sticking points of the negotiations.

A potential lack of policy coherence was also highlighted by the Minister.

He said given the climate change responsibilities on European farmers, it was important that beef imports must be produced in a similarly environmentally sustainable way.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys has also written to European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on the issue.

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