IFA President Joe Healy led IFA National Officers and members of the IFA Livestock Committee in a protest at the EU Commission offices in Dublin yesterday over the hypocrisy of the Commission doing a trade deal with South America.
Joe Healy said the protest conveyed a very strong message to the Head of the European Commission in Ireland Gerry Kiely. “The Commission has no credibility if they want to pursue a trade deal with a Mercosur group that has no regard for standards, the environment and labour laws. This flies in the face of the EU’s own climate policy.” He said this is utter hypocrisy.
“The Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office has repeatedly found that the Brazilian authorities, in particular, fail to meet EU standards on animal welfare, traceability, food safety and the environment,” he said.
“The EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has to stand up for Irish and European farmers and not allow EU negotiators to show such a blatant disregard for EU standards. Minister Hogan cannot allow the EU do a sell out on the beef sector to Brazil.” he said.
As part of IFA’s campaign, the IFA President and the Livestock Chairman Angus Woods met the chef de Cabinet DG Trade in Brussels last week, where they set out IFA’s outright opposition to any deal. The issues raised were also highlighted in the strong communication by the European farm organisation COPA opposing the deal.
Joe Healy was very critical of the seven Prime Ministers who are turning a blind eye to low standards and are intent on giving the Brazilian Prime Minister Balsonaro free licence to continue destroying the environment,” he said.
“This is the ultimate test of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who must waste no time in building opposition to this at EU Council level.”
Angus Woods said the EU Commission Joint Research Centre conducted an assessment on the cumulative impact of trade deals which showed that increased imports from Mercosur could cost the EU beef sector €5bn to €7bn per annum. He said the impact in Ireland would be proportionately more severe because of fact that beef is much more important to Ireland than any other EU member state and we are the largest beef exporter in the EU.