The Minister will agree that there could not be a worse time to conclude the Mercosur deal than today. There could not be a worse time from the point of view of our climate. The Oireachtas has declared a climate emergency - a declaration that is being repeated all over the world - and there is an awareness now of how finite our time on this planet is. The conclusion of this deal could not come at a worse time for the beef or poultry sectors. The latter have suffered significant price reductions and difficulties with factories. The Government is putting its head in the sand while these sectors are being decimated and hoping it will all go away. Despite this, the EU Commission has decided to conclude a deal. The deal in question has been has been 20 years in the making, it goes against all of the principles, beliefs and declarations relating to climate change, it will sound the death knell for Irish beef and severely damage the Irish poultry sector.
Then there is the background of a hard Brexit. We have discussed the ins and outs of the very particular impact the latter will have on this island. What is agreed is that no matter what happens with Brexit, it will bad for our economy and, in particular, our beef producers. Mercosur, Brexit and the climate emergency are leading to a disaster that is being underpinned by the agreement to which I refer, to which the European Commission has signed up and in respect of which there have, depending on the day of the week or the hour of the day, been incredibly mixed signals coming from the Government.
This agreement was signed up to without any environmental analysis. In an article in today's edition of the Irish Farmers' Journal, Commissioner Hogan indicates that every country should carry out its own environmental analysis. What land is he living in? He is certainly not showing any awareness of where this planet is at if that is his attitude. When replying to questions on the matter from Deputy Micheál Martin on Tuesday last, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Bruton stated, "This trade deal has compliance with the Paris Agreement at its heart. If there is not compliance with the Paris Agreement, there is no deal." I can tell the Minister opposite, Deputy Regina Doherty, that there is not compliance with the Paris Agreement because the EU is planning to reward governments, including that in Brazil, which is clearing rainforests at a rate of knots in order to make room for cattle which will be sold as part of this deal. Every 15 seconds, an area of rain forest the size of a football pitch is cleared. Since President Bolsonaro took office, the level of deforestation has accelerated. The EU Commission is saying, "Go ahead," and giving him a clap on the back. Where is the Paris Agreement in that context? Instead, what we got all week were different messages. It seems that the Government is engaging in media management in order to try to manage its own backbenchers who have suddenly woken up to the implications of this deal.
As both a Minister and a representative for Meath, Deputy Regina Doherty should be aware of the challenge facing our beef and poultry sectors. As a young Minister, she should be aware of where we stand in the context of the climate emergency. In order to get some idea as to where matters stand, from a Government perspective, can she outline her view on the agreement? Should the Mercosur agreement be passed and should the Government endorse it? Is the Minister on team Creed, the leader of which is going to take the agreement apart? Is she a member of team Humphreys, the leader of which thinks the agreement is good and that it will present many opportunities? Is she standing with the beef and poultry farmers? Is she standing with the climate against the might of South American climate deniers? Will the Government ratify or reject the Mercosur deal?