On his first visit to Brussels following his election this week, IFA President Joe Healy has strongly criticised the EU Commission’s approach to the Mercosur trade talks with South American countries and insisted that no offers are made on increased access to the European market for sensitive products, including beef.
The new IFA President made a strong intervention at the COPA Praesidium meeting with the Deputy Director General for International Trade in DG AGRI Ms. Maria Los Angeles Benitez Salas.
Joe Healy said Irish and European farmers were outraged at the draft offer put forward to Member States by Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström which would give Mercosur a new tariff rate quota providing additional access for 78,000 tonnes of beef, on top of the preferential access they already have, under which an estimated 180,000 tonnes of steak cuts were imported in 2015.
The IFA President pointed out that, with 39,000 tonnes of the EU draft offer in the form of high value cuts, this would mean giving the South American countries over one third of the 600,000 tonnes EU market for steak cuts. “This would be a total sell out of Irish and European livestock farmers, with no gains for European agriculture. Farmers in sensitive sectors are being sacrificed for the benefit of European industry and services.”
Joe Healy stressed that previous analysis by the European Commission had shown that a Mercosur deal would inflict losses of €7.8 billion on the EU agriculture sector. “The impact at farm level would be to devastate the incomes of Ireland’s 100,000 livestock farmers, with huge damage and job losses across the rural economy.”
Joe Healy challenged the Commission on the issue of standards saying that the Mercosur countries had consistently failed to meet EU standards on the key issues of traceability, animal health and welfare controls, the ban on hormone growth promoters, and environmental controls.
The IFA President concluded by demanding that Commissioner Malmström withdrawn her draft offers on sensitive products in particular beef.