Senator Maura Hopkins has said that the Mercosur deal between the European Union and South American countries is a bad deal for Irish beef farmers.

Senator Hopkins stated, “This deal, if passed by the European Council and Parliament has the potential to decimate the Irish beef market. The current draft of the deal includes a quota of 99,000 tonnes of beef from South America into the EU Market.”

“As it stands, the EU market is already oversupplied with beef and with the possible outcomes from Brexit this position may only get worse.”

Senator Hopkins continued, “However, this is by no means a completed deal. We need to ensure that EU beef markets are protected, not just in Ireland but in other EU countries.”

“Our beef exports are worth over €2 Billion annually and that is top quality beef with full traceability. The issue with this possible increased competition, is that we are not comparing like with like. These South American beef products do not conform to the same strict EU standards. In my opinion it is also very unfair to be on one hand developing proposals to reduce the carbon footprint of our beef herd while on the other hand doing deals to allow extra beef into the EU from countries like Brazil. Ireland’s predominantly grass fed beef is one of the most carbon efficient in the world while Brazil remove vast tracts of rain forest each year for extra beef production. This point must be recognised and our farmers must be supported accordingly”

“Ireland cannot be a lone voice on this issue and it will require support across the EU to ensure that this deal is amended to secure better outcomes for European farmers and protect the integrity of the EU food market.”

Senator Hopkins concluded, “I will continue to communicate the concerns of our beef farmers to my colleagues in Government and our MEP’s in order to ensure they are very aware of the potential serious implication of this deal and of the need to achieve a more positive outcome for Irish farmers on Mercosur.”