Belfast Telegraph

Beef farmers occupy EC offices

Farmers have occupied the offices of the European Commission in Dublin over fears of a multibillion-euro threat to the livestock industry.

Demonstrators believe talks in Brussels next week could open the door to cheap beef imports from South America that would hit the homegrown sector hard.

Accusing the EU of a "sell-out", around 30 protesters entered European Union House on Monday afternoon with the intention of staging an overnight sit-in.

John Bryan, president of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA), said a deal at the EU/Mercosur trade negotiations could cost European and Irish farmers 25 billion euro.

"The demand from South America for a huge increase in imports would destroy the European steak market and severely damage beef prices in Ireland and across European markets," he said.

"The EU cannot hand over half of our high value steak market to the South Americans."

Mr Bryan said the IFA is demanding the new coalition Government takes up the issue at the highest level in Brussels.

"The negative impact from a Mercosur deal would seriously damage our economic recovery and inflict major job losses at farm and industry level across the country," he added.

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