IFA livestock chair Angus Woods has drawn support for the association's campaign against an imminent trade deal with Mercosur from a report on the future of beef published by the Oireachtas committee on agriculture this Tuesday.
The TDs and senators objected strongly to the inclusion of beef in the proposed trade deal. Woods urged them to make it clear to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed that a trade agreement with Mercosur would not go through the Dáil when it comes up for ratification.
He also welcomed the committee's recommendations for additional support for the live export trade.
However, the IFA was disappointed to see no support for increased suckler payments, nor any calls for a competition investigation into beef factories from the Oireachtas committee.
Rainforest and PGI
ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham joined politicians in opposing the Mercosur deal, saying: "It is rank hypocrisy for the EU to insist on challenging climate change targets while supporting the importation of surplus beef from South America, involving the cutting down of rainforest.”
Graham supported the pursuit of a protected geographical indication (PGI) for suckler beef only, and welcomed suggestions to tighten the regulation of the food chain and examine "who makes what from the beef animal".
ICMSA president Pat McCormack, too, supported the politicians' opposition to Mercosur and the suggested dedicated live exports unit within the Department of Agriculture. He also welcomed recommendations for increased price transparency and reviews of the beef grid and feedlots.
McCormack called for their immediate implementation and said it was "essential that this report does not sit on a shelf gathering dust like many of the previous reports on the difficulties in the beef sector".
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy this Tuesday called on An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar "to unequivocally remove Irish support for the EU's mandate to negotiate the Mercosur trade deal". All EU member states intially agreed that the European Commission would represent them in negotiations with the South American bloc.
MEP Carthy described the recent letter co-signed by An Taoiseach raising concerns about the inclusion of beef in the trade deal as "tokenism".
"The time for writing letters of concern on Mercosur is long past," he said. "We know that there is nothing positive for Ireland in this deal, that it is being pursued in the interests of German car manufactures – why then is our government playing with words rather than stopping this deal?"