European farm leaders have left Members of the European Parliament in no doubt about the ‘catastrophic impact’ on EU agriculture of a trade agreement with Mercosur, reports the Friday edition of the UK’s Farmers Guardian.
The impact of a potential deal on the EU meat, sugar, fruit juice and maize sectors was presented to a high-level seminar in the European Parliament by Copa (Committee of Professional Agricultural Organisations) president Gerd Sonnleitner.
He said: “Based on demands made by the Mercosur countries in 2006, a study carried out by Copa-Cogeca reveals there would be losses to the EU agriculture sector of up to €13 billion”.
“And this does not even look at the impact on employment in EU rural areas where job losses are likely to be huge given the EU agriculture sector provides for 28 million jobs in EU rural areas.”
The seminar, which brought together EU farmers, farm cooperatives and primary food processors, heard the Copa president warn if a deal were to go ahead, the EU would become dependent on one external source for its food security needs, making it dependent on climatic or political decisions from these countries.
A study released by the European Commission acknowledged there would be huge losses to the EU agriculture sector as a result of a deal, and all EU countries would be impacted by the new tariff free quota.
UK National Farmers’ Union, NFU, director general Kevin Roberts said this week the union’s livestock board chairman and vice-president of the COPA beef group, Alistair Mackintosh, had previously urged EU trade negotiators not to give any new concessions to Mercosur.
Mackintosh said the EC impact assessment and previous analysis conducted by Copa-Cogeca, both showed EU farmers would lose out.
“Beef appears to be most at risk, with the worst case scenario generating a loss of market share, an 8% drop in prices, and a loss of circa €3bn in value terms to European farmers. With the UK, a significant producer of beef in an EU context, the very real concern is that any deal with Mercosur threatens UK beef producers disproportionately and jeopardizes our domestic beef industry”, said Mackintosh.
NFU director general, Kevin Robe.