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Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 984 No. 5

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  2 o’clock

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I am sure the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Bruton, will agree that the recently announced Mercosur trade deal has angered the Irish farming community no end, particularly the beef sector, and with good reason. It potentially signals the death knell of a sector that has suffered unduly in recent times as a result of the collapse in beef prices, the impact of Brexit and increasing pressures arising from the climate change issue. Among the farming organisations, the president of the Irish Farmers Association, IFA, described the trade agreement as "reckless" and "wrong" and the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, ICMSA, said it was an "absolute disgrace" and "beggars belief" that millions of acres of rainforest will be chopped down to facilitate beef expansion, while sustainable, fully traceable beef in Europe is put to the sword. I put it to the Minister that this trade agreement is in many ways outdated. It is outdated in that it ignores the impact of Brexit on the beef sector, both now and into the future. It is outdated in not taking due note of the collapse in beef prices in recent years and the difficulty the sector is facing. Above all, it is outdated in terms of the climate change issue. It beggars belief that this trade agreement has been signed given the change of mindset around climate change across Europe, including in this country.

The Government seems to be quietly acquiescing to this trade deal. The Minister will recall that during the local elections, the Commissioner, Mr. Hogan, announced a €50 million package and the Government and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Creed, took credit for what we were led to believe were very close dealings between the Commissioner and the Government. At the time, there did not appear to be any conditions attached.

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