Mercosur trade deal
Sir, – It has never been my approach to “curry favour” with any lobby group as Stephen Collins claims in his otherwise interesting article on the Mercosur trade deal (Opinion & Analysis, July 19th). Rather I have sought to engage in dialogue based on the facts of the situation. I constantly remind farm organisations that rejecting trade is against their best interests – Ireland relies heavily on trade especially our agri-food sector. The Mercosur deal is a long time in the making. The political agreement comes at the worst possible time in terms of confidence among beef farmers, hit by falling consumption, significantly lower prices and under pressure to address the climate challenge – and it’s not only Irish farmers who are feeling these effects. A full assessment of the deal is being prepared. The process is only beginning and it will be years rather than months before politicians – national and European – vote on it.
In the meantime, the unfolding crisis in the beef sector needs attention and tinkering with the problem is no solution. We will have the opportunity this week (Tuesday) to raise these issues with the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan. I am always happy to speak to journalists and commentators to give my views on all matters, including Mercosur. – Yours, etc,