Coalition of Irish farmers and environmentalists call for CETA to be rejected

 AGRILAND – 13 JANUARY 2016

A coalition of Irish farmers, environmentalists, trade unionists and small business organisations have called on MEPs to oppose the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Over 80 Irish civil society groups, including the ICSA, are calling on MEPs to reject the CETA trade deal at the final vote on the trade deal in the European Parliament on February 14.

The groups co-signed a letter to members of the European Parliamentary Environment Committee calling for rejection of the deal earlier this week. However, the committee recommended that the MEPs vote for the deal in February.

Signatories to the letter came from a number of different sectors and included the ICSA (Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association), the Environmental Pillar and the International Small Business Alliance.

Patrick Kent, President of the ICSA said that the deal would be problematic for Ireland.

The committee’s vote is deeply disappointing given their remit for public health, food safety and the environment.

He said that 5% of Canadian farmers produce nearly half of Canada’s food produce.

“So that’s the scale of operators that our small, and more quality oriented farmers will be competing with – with Canada’s different and lower standards on the use of antibiotics, steroids and hormones in animals destined for the food chain.”

Professor John Sweeney, from the Board of An Taisce, also expressed serious concerns.

“A key concern is how the fear of being sued under CETA and how other elements of the deal will compromise essential action on climate change by Governments and the EU.”

The vote in favour of the CETA is a nail in the coffin of effective climate action.

Under the trade agreement, the total duty-free access the EU will grant to Canada for fresh and frozen beef is 50,000t, which can be broken down in to 15,000t of frozen beef, 30,838t of fresh/chilled beef and 4,162t of fresh beef.

Canada will also be granted a duty-free access for 75,000t of pork, which will be added to the existing WTO quota of 4,625t and consolidated into CETA to simplify the administration of this quota.

Under the trade agreement, EU beef and sheepmeat market access into Canada will be fully liberalised at zero in-quota rates.