With leaks from Brussels that the EU Commission is about to make an offer on beef in the Mercosur trade talks, IFA President Joe Healy said Irish beef farmers are depending on EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to strongly oppose any offer on beef in the negotiations.
Joe Healy said, “Now is the time for Commissioner Hogan to put his foot down in Brussels and stop any sell out of the beef sector.”
The IFA President said it is incredible that the EU Commission is intending to proceed with an offer on beef considering the uncertainty and possible cliff edge facing the Irish and EU beef sector in Brexit, and the ongoing scandals emerging from the main Mercosur country of Brazil. He said now is not the time to make any concessions to the South American countries.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said IFA met with Commissioner Hogan last week and made very clear Ireland’s strong opposition to any offer on beef which would involve concessions to the Brazilians and others in Mercosur.
He said, “Proposals to allow the Brazilians to convert cooked corn beef imports into steak cuts would be extremely damaging. We cannot hand over any more of our high value steak market in the EU to Brazil and Argentina.”
He said the Mercosur countries already have too much access to the European market with up to 74% of all EU beef imports amounting to 246,000t (carcase weight equivalent) every year.
Angus Woods said the Commission are way too lenient with Brazil and others over their continuing failure to meet EU standards on the key issues of traceability, food safety, animal health and the environment. He said the fact remains that the EU relies on the Brazilian authorities to certify beef imports and the record shows that they are not capable of meeting EU standards.