Simon Coveney flags threat to beef sector

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney is urging the European Commission to keep sensitive products such as beef off the table until the end of the Mercosur trade talks.

The EU has already deferred sensitive trade-offs until late in TTIP talks with the US. 

With indications that the EU may include tariff rate quotas for beef in a formal exchange of offers in early May with Argentina, Brazil, and other Mercosur countries, Mr Coveney is to join other EU states in highlighting farmers’ concerns at next week’s council of ministers meeting in Luxembourg.

Mr Coveney said: “Ireland has voiced its concerns regarding an EU trade deal with the Mercosur block of countries, which could have a severe impact on the European agriculture sector and on the European beef sector in particular.

“I raised the matter with the commission at every opportunity, including at council of ministers meetings in recent months.”

In his communications with Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton, EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan and trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström, Mr Coveney has outlined the impacts for the Irish economy of any trade off involving beef. More than 90% of Irish beef is exported to the EU.

Meanwhile, IFA national chairman Jer Bergin has written to Taoiseach Enda Kenny to express his concerns. He said any deal would be damaging for the Irish and EU beef sectors.

Mr Bergin said: “The EU agricultural policy environment has changed dramatically since the last market access offer was made by the EU in 2004. The abolition of milk quotas has resulted in the expansion of the EU dairy herd, which is posing additional challenges for the beef sector.

“Analysis by the commission shows a Mercosur deal would inflict losses of €7.8bn on EU agriculture. Individual losses at farm level would be higher, particularly for beef farmers. This would have a knock-on effect on rural economies, resulting in job losses.”


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