THE EU’s largest farm lobby organisation Copa & Cogeca – of which the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is a member – along with the poultry sector group, AVEC, and the sugar beet growers’ organisation, CIBE, are launching a campaign to explain why EU farming can’t support the Mercosur trade deal in its current form.
They released a six-minute video on February 11th, outlining a number of key reasons behind the move. The short film points out that farmers have supported other trade agreements, but say that Mercosur is different, complaining that it is ‘unbalanced in its agricultural chapter, especially for already fragile sectors.’
They use beef as an example to point out that the trade accord would ‘transfer the bargaining power from EU livestock farmers to big operators in Mercosur countries.’ They are also concerned about the cumulative impact on agriculture of EU trade deals, fearing that the ‘EU-Mercosur agreement is the straw that could break the camel’s back.’
In the video clip, they predict that, ‘in the poultry sector, each year imports from Mercosur countries will represent the production of Denmark, Finland and Sweden combined.’ The three umbrella organisations also complain that the Mercosur deal will ‘clearly widen the gap for EU farmers due to double standards.’
They say that this ‘double standard and unlevel playing field,’ at a time when the EU is discussing ambitious targets under the Farm to Fork Strategy, ‘seem completely incomprehensible to the entire farming community.’ It ‘will inevitably result in a transfer of production to countries where we have no control over the setting of production standards,’ the three groups warn.
They want scrutiny of the deal to follow ‘its normal course avoiding any loopholes,’ which means that ‘the European and national parliaments must have their say and the voices of citizens, consumers and farmers must be heard.’ The ratification process is expected to gather pace over the coming months under the Portuguese presidency, a keen supporter of the bilateral trade accord.
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•Rose O’Donovan is the editor-in-chief of the Brussels-based publication AGRA FACTS.