Aontú Leader, Peadar Toibin TD, has called on the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to block EU attempts to sign a quick trade deal with the Mercosur bloc of South American countries, stating that it could signal the collapse of the Irish Beef Industry.  The leaders of Brazil and Argentina said a deal was imminent which would see 99,000 tonnes of cheap South American beef flood the EU market at low import tax rates.

“It’s essential for Ireland’s €3 billion beef and livestock sector that Ireland will not ratify this deal,” Deputy Toibin said.  “Any move by the EU to get a quick deal now after twenty years of difficult talks would represent a total sell out of Irish farmers.

“The added uncertainty caused by Brexit makes this deal even more ominous.  52% of our beef exports currently go to the UK.  That figure may not hold up in the event of a hard Brexit.  Flooding an already saturated EU market with 99,000 tonnes of cheap, unregulated beef would then represent a possible annihilation of our beef industry.  It’s certain that farms would go to the wall here.

“There is a very real threat that a quick Mercosur deal might be attempted in the immediate aftermath of the European Parliament elections and before the next Commission can be ratified.  It’s crucial that our government makes a very public hardline stand against that now.

“This is yet another example of the EU Commissions hypocrisy and double standards.  On one hand they preach the need for sustainability and reducing our carbon emissions, and on the other, they are openly prepared to do business with countries that have defied the Paris accords and who are currently cutting down large areas of the Amazon to increase their beef production.”