By agreeing to the Mercosur deal in principle the Government has “stabbed the farmers of this country in the back”, Richard Boyd-Barrett of the People Before Profit party has said.
He told the Dáil during a Sinn Féin motion, which called on the Dáil to reject the Mercosur deal, that the deal has betrayed the fight to deal with the climate emergency.
“The deal is sabotaging efforts to deal with horrendous destruction of the Amazon rainforest,” he also said.
Sinn Féin agriculture spokesperson Brian Stanley called for all parties to support the motion in the Dáil to protect the environment and Irish beef farmers by rejecting the EU-Mercosur trade deal.
He said the deal is a bad deal for Ireland, a bad deal for farmers, and a bad deal for the environment.
We will not support a deal which would sell-out our Irish beef farmers and accelerate a race to bottom for beef production, beef quality and workers’ rights
“Earlier [on Wednesday] outside the Dáil, we had both farmers and environmentalists standing side-by-side to tell this Government that it has it all wrong on Mercosur.
“Sinn Féin will not support a trade deal that would undermine Ireland’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement.
“We won’t support a deal that would require and facilitate the destruction of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.
“We will not support a deal which would sell-out our Irish beef farmers and accelerate a race to bottom for beef production, beef quality and workers’ rights,” he said.
Stanley said that the Irish beef sector is an industry which Ireland should be proud of, this Government, however, is steadfast on making life as difficult as possible for those who work in it.
Ireland is being asked to support a deal with the full knowledge that Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, is intent on overseeing the continued rapid deforestation of the Amazon, Stanley also said.
“Bolsonaro has made no secret of these plans. Not only has he already stated his desire to remove Brazil from the Paris Climate Agreement, but his record on deforestation is frightening.
“It’s no coincidence and no surprise to anyone that this huge increase in deforestation is occurring at the same time as Brazil has become the world’s largest exporter of beef,” he said.
In response, Minister for Business Heather Humphreys said that everyone needs to step back and look at bigger picture.
“We will ensure a comprehensive, independent, environmental and economic assessment is carried out on Mercosur. The shape it takes for agriculture will be a key consideration.
“There is a long way to go, we need to go through this agreement line by line.
“We should not lose sight of EU trade agreements which are positive for the [agriculture] sector and provide export for 105,000t of our beef. I accept Mercosur is a different one.
“We need to look at the deal in the round, that’s what economic assessment will do, so the Government can make a fully informed decision on the deal in two years’ time. Until we have sight of a final legal text on it, we couldn’t accept this Sinn Féin motion,” Minister Humphreys said.
Charlie McConalgoue the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on agriculture said that Fianna Fáil is in support of trade and that deals have been done which the party have supported.
“But it’s very important when it comes to trade deals that the Government represents us well and that deals are fair. When it comes to this deal, we have been let down by the Government, particularly so when we have a national commissioner in the role of EU agriculture.
It is time they stiffened their resolves and push back on the deal
“It is the beef aspect of this deal in part that represents such a big threat to this country. We, in terms of the agriculture sector, will be carrying a lot of the weight and losses of the agreement so other sectors can benefit,” he said.
He said that Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and Minister for Business Heather Humphreys were “soft touch” when it came to representing Irish interests.
“It is time they stiffened their resolves and push back on the deal,” he said.
‘Shrouded in secrecy’
Willie Penrose from the Labour Party said that the deal is a “bad deal for Irish farmers, the economy and rural economy”. He said his party would support the motion.
He said the deal making has been “shrouded in secrecy” and that there is “no guarantee” that Brazil and Argentina have the technical capacity to meet European food standards.
“There’s no tagging, no traceability, there’s foot and mouth rampant. Why should we allow this to become a threat – the deal says there won’t be compromise [on standards]…but I don’t know,” Penrose said.
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