A dairy farmers’ lobby group has said it will be asking the European Milk Board (EMB) to mount “a major EU-wide campaign to oppose the Mercosur agreement”.
Speaking in advance of a meeting of the EMB in Brussels today, Thursday, July 4, the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack, said: “If implemented, Mercosur will do irreparable damage to the EU model of farming which is the family-farm structure.
“It makes an absolute joke of the EU’s climate change credentials which have been effectively set-aside for big business.”
McCormack said that the EU and Government “have been scrambling for cover” in recent days with so called commitments on climate change from the South Americans which “farmers and the wider community do not believe and, based on past history, are fully justified in not believing”, he added.
“At this stage, I have to say that I am very concerned our Government will support this agreement to boost industries such as financial services at the expense of farmers, and you would have to say, it’s a case that Dublin takes priority again.
The EMB represents mainly dairy farmers across the EU, the vast majority of whom also have a beef enterprise on their farm and do so very sustainably.
“Like Ireland, all these farmers will suffer severely if Mercusor proceeds and, on this basis, I will be calling on EMB to mount an EU-wide campaign so that all EU governments and our MEPs cannot ignore farmer concerns in relation to their financial sustainability.
“They cannot stand over a situation where EU farmers have to meet exacting standards which will increase in the context of climate change and yet are expected to compete with South American products with no such standards.
“If national and EU politicians think that the Paris accord will be implemented by the South Americans in the context of the Mercusor deal, they are either very naïve, they ignore history or are simply ignoring the facts so that big business can prosper.
EU farmers are fed up at this stage of listening to platitudes from politicians regarding their support for farmers and rural areas.
McCormack said that this represents a “senior hurling” decision for our Government and our MEPs. They either reject this deal on the basis that it will severely undermine farmers, rural Ireland and its environmental credentials or they abandon us.
“The same applies to all EU governments and I will be asking EMB to mount this campaign as a matter of priority,” concluded McCormack.