No sense in ‘flooding Europe with Brazilian beef’ – McDonald
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has criticised the Government’s position of touting reduction of the national herd while simultaneously supporting the Mercosur trade agreement in Brussels.
“The State also has to be consistent on this matter. It makes absolutely no sense to take out the big stick to Irish farmers if the State is to subsequently sign on to Mercosur which is set to flood the EU market with Brazilian beef,” said Deputy McDonald.
She was speaking on Sunday following the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis during an interview on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics.
Model of farming
McDonald described the choice facing Government on the type of farming it wants in Ireland and highlighted that the family and small farm must be supported.
“The truth is that policy domestically and at a European level has sponsored and pushed the idea of hyper intensification of agriculture and, in fact, smaller family farmers have struggled and struggled badly.
“Under a Sinn Féin government, and I would hope before there is a Sinn Féin government, we need to decide and Government needs to decide that we will support family farms.”
The Sinn Féin leader declined to give an exact figure when pushed on the emission reduction target that she would set for Irish agriculture.
“I’m not making an argument to exempt any sector, including agriculture,” she said.
“With all the conferences, the brochures and the spin, how much progress have we actually made? The answer to that is very little.
“We need the State to be more front-footed, we need to move away from the idea that it’s going to be individual actions that crack this.”
McDonald’s position on Mercosur echoes that shared by her colleague, Sinn Féin agriculture spokesperson Matt Carthy TD which was recently reported by the Irish Farmers Journal.