Fianna Fáil TD for Kilkenny, Bobby Aylward, has called on the Government to ensure that Irish farmers interests are represented in Europe and said the Government need to oppose, in the strongest sense, any ratification of the Mercosur deal.

Deputy Aylward was responding to the announcement that negotiators from the European Union and the South American Mercosur trading block have agreed a trade deal and said that it will greatly damage Irish farming.

Deputy Aylward explained, “While we know that Brexit will be bad for Ireland we do not know what the full impact will be and wont for some time. In light of this the Government must put the breaks on this deal.

“The deal will see 99,000 tonnes of South American beef allowed into the European market every year. This will have a huge impact on prices, at a time when beef farmers here are already to the pin of their collars.

“It has taken almost 20 years to negotiate and Irish farmers have opposed the proposals in it every step of the way. The deal has always had the potential to harm Irish farming but combined with the possible loss of trade in the British market as a result of Brexit, Mercosur could prove catastrophic”, he concluded.