The fact that progress on the Mercosur trade deal hasn’t been ended is “making a mockery” of Ireland’s commitment to climate action and Irish farmers' sustainable beef, Sinn Féin has claimed.

Through what he described as a “climate rhetoric”, Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture Matt Carthy TD said Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and the Government are “paying lip service” when it comes to the Mercosur trade deal still being on the EU’s table.

He called on the Government to immediately end any further progress of the agreement, which he said would allow for the importation of 100,000 additional tonnes of beef into the EU market.

‘Beyond ironic’

Carthy described it as “beyond ironic” that while Ireland has been in a “sustained discussion on the role of agriculture in our domestic carbon emissions, the Brazilian meat industry was unveiling plans to increase the cattle herd there by 6.5m in order to meet projected export demand.”

“This increase represents the equivalent of this State’s entire beef and dairy herd,” the Sinn Féin TD pointed out.

“In the meantime, the Tánaiste’s most recent declaration of seeking ‘further enforceable commitments on climate and deforestation’ [from Mercosur countries] makes a mockery of commitment to climate action and at a stretch could be described as climate rhetoric.

“Due to pressure from farm organisations and Sinn Féin, Government ministers have told the Dáil that they are now opposed to the EU-Mercosur trade deal. But, they have yet to act on this and tell the European Commission,” he said.

‘More sustainable’

Matt Carthy TD went on to suggest that “pound for pound the beef produced through Irish suckler herds is significantly more sustainable than that which this deal would replace it with.”

“There are no commitments that would be sufficient to justify such a replacement. Virginijus Sinkevicius [European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries] has indicated that he expects the EU-Mercosur trade deal to advance by the end of this year, thereby facilitating the importation of a significant amount of that Brazilian beef into Europe.

“Irish farmers can and must take measures to reduce emissions. But we cannot expect those actions to be taken while the European Commission is preparing to sign off on a trade deal that will undo any positive impact of our domestic actions,” he said.

Carthy called on the Government to inform the EU of its intentions to use its veto on the trade deal and warned that it “must be rejected, now”.

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