IFA president Tim Cullinan held a meeting with the Tanáiste and Minister for Trade Leo Varadkar last week, at which he insisted that the Government must reject the proposed EU Commission trade deal with the Mercosur countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
“By any measure, the Mercosur countries, particularly Brazil, have failed to meet the criteria laid down by the EU Commission for further access to the European beef market. The Irish Government must take a stand on this issue at EU level,” he said.
Tim Cullinan said our main export market in the UK is more unpredictable than ever post-Brexit. The UK is now free to do trade deals with third countries, including the Mercosur bloc.
“The EU market is now 116% self sufficient post-Brexit, yet the EU Commission want to facilitate Brazil to bring more beef into the EU,” he said.
“It defies logic that we would further undermine Irish and European beef farmers by allowing another 100,000t of beef to come from the Mercosur region,” he said.
‘Cannot have it both ways’
IFA national livestock chair Brendan Golden said it’s hugely hypocritical for the Commission to be preaching about the Farm to Fork and Green Deal strategies, while at the same time facilitating wide scale environmental degradation across South America. He said Irish beef producers are already operating below the cost of production.
“The EU Commission cannot have it both ways. They expect the highest standards from farmers here, yet they are willing to sign a deal like this. If the ideals of the EU Commission are to stand for anything, this has to be stopped in its tracks,” he said.
The IFA president said the Taoiseach must resist an attempt by some to suggest that the deal does not have to be ratified by member states.
“Under EU rules, this deal must be voted on by every member state, which effectively gives Ireland a veto. There is little or nothing in this deal for Ireland. We must be prepared to reject it,” he said.
Driver theory test must be classified as an essential service
IFA president Tim Cullinan has written to Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, to allow candidates to take the driver theory test remotely.
“I pointed out to Minister Naughton that there are many essential workers who need to secure a Category B and/or W Driver Licence in order to deliver essential services on farms during the summer, and as part of employment with agricultural contractors.”
The Government recently decided not to classify the driver theory test as an essential service and continued the suspension of the service until May 4.
However, the ProProctor Remote Testing option allows candidates for certain tests (currently Bus/Truck, Approved Driving Instructor and Driver Certificate of Professional Competence) to take their driver theory test from the comfort of their own home.
“The RSA has stated that the service is reliable and convenient while delivering a secure testing experience. This service must be extended to candidates applying for other driver licence categories, such as cars (Category B) and tractors (Category W),” said Cullinan.
“Farming, farm labour, crop and animal production, farm relief services and the provision of support services relating to any of the agricultural services specified, are all included in the Government’s list of essential services at Level 5.”
“These essential workers should be allowed to complete their essential driving training in order to take their driving test and obtain their driving licence.”