Jun 192019

Reports that the EU could reach an agreement with the Mercosur countries as early as next week, just days after the Ireland launched its Climate Action Plan has led the President of ICMSA to describe the possibility of such a deal as “surreal” and “even worse than stopping the forward progress – it will be a huge step backwards”.

Pat McCormack was speaking on comments attributed to Commissioner Hogan in which the latter speculated that a deal with the Mercosur countries might be reached as early as next week ‘if the right circumstances were in place’.   The talks have been ongoing for 20 years but both EU farmers and environmental groups have described the idea of increasing beef imports from South American where the beef is produced on an industrial and utterly unverified fashion off vast areas that have been crudely deforested as massively destructive in environmental and biodiversity terms.   Mr McCormack said it was impossible to comprehend how people were meant to react to the news that mere days after the Irish Government had launched its own very challenging climate action plan, it would now effectively be party to an agreement that would – in the unanimous opinion of every reputable commentator – would act as an incentive for South American countries, specifically, Brazil to hugely ramp-up its already rampant destruction of native forest and jungle with the attendant loss of the carbon-limiting capacity the forest represents, the irreplaceable biodiversity and homelands of indigenous peoples.

“ICMSA has a vested interest in wanting any deal to be stopped to protect our Irish beef sector, which is much more sustainable than Mercusor beef production. But there’s an even bigger consideration here and just days after Ireland launched its own Climate Change Plan, how are we meant to take our plan and the science that underpins it seriously when the EU is considering concluding an agreement that could – and probably will – result in a catastrophic escalation in the forest clearance that is the basis of South  American beef production?   What is the point in urging the public and EU farmers to change practices if we are to deal with climate change while agreeing to a deal that’s going to see one of the planet’s most blatant environmental threats actually worsen?   This is surreal and the Irish Government and all other Member States just have to make a decision here that reflects the opinions of the EU’s populations and the overwhelming evidence of the science and either suspend the Mercosur agreement indefinitely or take beef and food production completely out of any consideration.   A Mercosur agreement is even worse than stopping any forward progress – it will be a huge step backwards, and again highlights the massive contradictions in EU policy”, said the ICMSA President.

Ends   19 June 2019

Pat McCormack, 087-7608958

President, ICMSA.


Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office