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EU-Mercosur Trade Deal 'Would Damage Beef Trade'

15 December 2015

IRELAND - Reacting to reports of a push from the EU Commission to recommence talks on a Mercosur trade deal, Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said a Mercosur trade would be extremely damaging for Irish and European agriculture, and especially our important beef trade.

Mercosur is a bloc of countries in South America, including Chile, Peru and Colombia among others, which work together to promote trade.

Henry Burns said an EU Commission analysis shows that a Mercosur deal would inflict losses of €7.8bn on the agriculture sector and he said the real losses at farm level would be much higher.

The IFA Livestock leader said farm minister Simon Coveney and MEPs must come out strongly against a Mercosur deal and in defence of farmers and the agriculture sector.

In the context of the current debate on climate change, Henry Burns said in Ireland beef production is based on environmentally sustainable grassland production systems which are between 2 and 4 times more efficient than South American production in terms of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

He said, “It would be a total contradiction of EU policy on climate change for Europe to agree a Mercosur deal that replaces sustainable EU beef production for European consumers with product from South America, which has a much higher carbon footprint.”

“It is well established that the growth in South American beef exports and particularly exports from Brazil has come about on the back of widespread destruction of the Rainforest in the Pantanal and Amazon regions.

"Amazonian deforestation accounts for over 75 per cent of Brazil’s contribution to Global warming. Amazon deforestation averaged 2.15m hectares per annum (2000 – 2005) with 70 per cent to 80 per cent (1.72m ha/pa) attributed to cattle ranching.”

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