Speaking at a high level COPA beef event in Brussels this evening attended by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan and Agriculture Ministers from across the EU, IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said there needs to be a much stronger and more robust defence of the European beef sector and family farm model of quality beef production with higher standards. “The beef sector is under constant attack from many areas and must fight back. This has to start with our political leaders”.
The IFA Livestock leader said European and Irish beef farmers, who operate on low incomes, are demanding that political leaders across Europe and the EU Commission stand up and fight for the beef sector, which delivers in abundance in rural areas.
Angus Woods said COPA, as representatives of European beef farmers, is demanding specific support for the beef sector under the CAP. He said Commissioner Hogan will have a unique opportunity to address the low income problem in the beef sector in his forthcoming green paper on CAP 2020, which is due to be launched later this month.
The IFA Livestock leader said direct payments in CAP are critically important to the incomes of livestock farmers and in Ireland make up over 100% of incomes on most beef farms. He said Commissioner Hogan must remain strong on defending the CAP budget and ensuring that direct payments in Pillar I and Pillar II are fully protected.
On Mercosur, Angus Woods said the EU Commission has gone way too far in its excessive offer to Brazil and other Latin American countries must be hauled back in. He warned that the EU policy around double standards will come back to bite the Commission.
Angus Woods said COPA has put forward detailed policies for the beef sector covering a wide range of issues including specific CAP support, export supports for new markets, Mercosur, Brexit, specific promotions for beef from the suckler cow herd and improving the economic position of farmers in a properly functioning food chain.
Speaking at the function, COPA Beef Chairman Jean Pierre Fleury said the EU must sort out the Irish issue on beef in Brexit or otherwise “we will have substantial problems across the entire European beef sector”.
Mr Fleury said Mercosur is an extremely hot topic and EU beef farmers are extremely angry with the way the EU Commission are using beef as a bargaining chip in the negotiations. He said this is putting at stake the future of beef meat production across Europe.
“Everybody is brushing the issues of double standards under the carpet. It is incredible that some four and five star hotels and restaurants across the EU are using imported beef from Brazil and other Latin American countries.”
The IFA is a member of COPA/COGECA in Brussels, the united voice for farmers and agri co-operatives in the EU. COPA represents 13 million farmers and COGECA represents the interests of 38,000 agricultural co-operatives.