Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said the proposed trade agreement between EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and the Mercosur group of countries (Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil) will shatter any faith that the EU has the best interests of Irish farming at heart. Deputy McGrath was speaking after all of the major farming organisations, the majority of the Dáil political parties and the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, all accepted that the agreement has the potential to decimate the Irish beef sector:
“The plan to allow a further 99 thousand tonnes of South American beef into the EU on an annual basis, at a time when the sector is struggling to cope with Brexit is sheer madness.
It is also tells us that despite what they say, and despite what supports are in place, the EU are more than prepared to sell out Irish farming in order to push through larger Trade Deals.
This is a wake up call in terms of what the EU Commission’s version of solidarity looks like.
We have to remember that suckler farmers already depend on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) direct payments for their livelihoods, with average incomes just below €13,000 according to Teagasc.
If you add to this that a no deal Brexit would decimate the Irish beef sector with World Trade Organization Tariffs likely to push the price of beef produced by farmers down to an estimated €2.50 per kilogram, then the scale of the challenges become clear.
Ireland the Irish farming community cannot fight to survive both Brexit and terrible trade deals conducted by our so-called friends in the EU Commission.
We have to resist this trade deal with everything we have got if communities the length and breadth of rural Ireland are to have any chance of surviving,” concluded Deputy McGrath.