First, they sold out our fishing communities and now they have sold out our beef farmers and rural Ireland – Mac Lochlainn
Speaking in a Seanad debate today in response to a political agreement on the Mercosur Trade Deal between the European Commission and the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay that will allow the importation of almost 100,000 tons of beef into the European market, Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has said that “the interests of major European corporations and big business has been put in front of the global climate crisis and communities in rural Ireland”.
Senator Mac Lochlainn said:
“This trade deal is another betrayal of rural Ireland. Yet again, an Irish Government allows big business interests in Europe walk all over us. First, they sold out our fishing communities and now they have sold out our beef farmers and rural Ireland. It is estimated that these additional huge imports will drive EU beef prices down by 16%, costing the EU beef sector as much as €5 billion a year in revenue. The potential impact on Irish farmers could be between €500 and €750 million.
“And of course, these South American have much lower environmental beef production standards than Ireland and the EU so they can produce beef at a much lower price.
“Beef farmers in Donegal and across Ireland have been struggling for years due to the policies dictated by meat factories and major supermarkets. They have been faced with the serious threat of the loss of the vital UK beef market due to Brexit and now this betrayal.
“Then there is the sheer hypocrisy of the European Commission talking about a ‘climate emergency’ while doing commerce with the far right Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change denier, who has overseen the advancement of the Brazilian baron beef ranchers in place of the rain forests. The scale of the upsurge in the destruction of the Amazon rainforests is evidenced by the fact that the equivalent of two football pitches are being destroyed every minute.
“The interests of major European corporations and big business has been put in front of the global climate crisis and of course, communities in rural Donegal and rural Ireland and rural Europe will pay the price for this reckless greed.
“Despite the protestations of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, they know that they handed over our people's veto on these deals in the Nice and Lisbon Treaties. They could have halted these negotiations, but they let the inevitable happen again. Now, they tell us that the Houses of the Oireachtas will have our say in due course. The Irish Government need to make it clear that they will oppose this deal and build support for its scrapping along with other European countries and governments such as Belgium, France, and Poland that have expressed concern.”