I wonder what the pro-EU lobby will make of the concerns that EU farmers have over a trade deal the EU agreed to last week on behalf of all member states.

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Last week the EU agreed a trade deal with the Mercosur bloc of South American countries that has sent some EU farmers into a tailspin, especially those in the Republic of Ireland.

The Mercosur group has four full member countries, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Venezuela is also a full member but has been suspended.

There are also associate members: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname. As well as observer countries of New Zealand and Mexico.

Mercosur, the motto of which is "Our North is the South" is a customs union and its aims are to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people and currency.

It may sound like another EU but it doesn't seem to need its own equivalent of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) nor a single currency. But that's for another day.

Anyway, the EU has agreed, after twenty years of negotiations, a trade deal with Mercosur, which EU farmers, especially those in Southern Ireland, are saying will destroy their livelihoods and lower EU food standards.

But what the EU gets in return is access to sell other stuff like cars into South America.

Speaking to the RTE This Week programme, the Irish Farmer's Association National Livestock chairman, Angus Woods, said in a scathing attack on the deal that the consequences would be worse for his members than a no deal Brexit and that it also meant letting sub-standard beef into the EU.

RTE reports that:

"Mr Woods said the EU Commission believes there is a massive win in this for other sectors, and that it is willing to let the beef industry "take a hit" to achieve it."

And the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said he was deeply concerned at the potential impact on the Irish beef sector.

So while the Irish Republic has been gleefully ganging up with the EU against the UK over Brexit, it now finds itself a mere bargaining chip in the greater EU game.

And the Brussels Times reports that an analysis of the deal by the Belgian farmers union, Boerenbond, says it represents a threat to European farmers and the EU agricultural model.

And Boerenbond says:

"It is the large industrial companies from the Mercosur that will supply the exports coming to Europe, where they will compete with the more family-based European producers. The small local producer in the Mercosur will not get much from this agreement."

And on food standards it says that Mercosur standards on such things as traceability, food safety and animal welfare are "of a different order".

And follows that up with:

"It is unthinkable that trade policy should open the door to products and production models that are far away from European expectations for agriculture and food."

While farminguk.com says that Copa Cogeca, an agricultural cooperative that represents 23 million EU farmers, is calling it a 'very dark moment' for their industry.

And it quotes Christiane Lambert of France's biggest agricultural union FNSEA saying: "Unacceptable signature of a Mercosur-EU accord, which will expose European farmers to unfair competition and consumers to total deception."

But according to a report in the Independent, the French President Emmanuel Macron has welcomed the deal, so one therefore assumes that all the EU lovers will be perfectly happy with it.

But, did you also know that the EU finalised another deal last week? That one is with Vietnam.

And as John Redwood points out in his diary, this was signed up to on our behalf with no debate in parliament.

"And the UK has no right to reject it or to require improvements and amendments," he writes.

Redwood called the agreement, long, complex and asymmetric, where the provisions on animal welfare are unclear.

All this ballyhoo from the EU and the Remain campaign about how the EU protects our food safety and the dangers of signing a trade deal with those nasty Americans who wash their chicken in chlorine etc, and all the while the EU is actively engaged in undermining its own single market food safety and security as well as the Common Agricultural Policy, so that more of other stuff can be exported.

Looks like the farming lobby is losing influence as the EU starts to take more heed of the needs of engineering, tech and services exporters, doesn't it?

And so another argument that the pro-Remain lobby uses to try and keep us in the EU bites the dust.

Sources:

https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2019/0630/1059319-beef-mercosur/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercosur

Trade pact with S. American lands threatens EU farmers, says Farmers' Union

https://www.farminguk.com/news/farmers-slam-eu-for-signing-trade-deal-with-mercosur_53340.html

https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/farming-news/further-blow-for-beef-farmers-as-macron-backs-mercosur-deal-38267176.html

https://johnredwoodsdiary.com

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