IFA President Joe Healy and National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods met with the EU Chief negotiator for Mercosur and senior officials in Commissioner Malmstrom’s Cabinet in Brussels last week to outline Ireland’s strong opposition to any offer on beef which would increase access in the EU/Mercosur trade negotiations.
Joe Healy said, “IFA made it very clear to the EU Commission that now is not the time for the EU to make a new offer on Mercosur with the threat and uncertainty of Brexit and the associated impact that the sterling exchange rate is having on the beef sector, as well as the scandal in the Brazilian meat sector”.
He said IFA is very strong that there can be no increase in import volumes or additional tariff rate quotas in any new offer in the Mercosur trade negotiations. The EU cannot make any new offer which will damage the EU beef sector by allowing the South Americans to cherry pick the high price EU steak market.
Joe Healy said the Mercosur countries already have very favourable access to the European market with up to 74% of all EU beef imports amounting to 246,000t (carcase weight equivalent) every year.
The IFA President pointed out to the EU Commission the damage that could be inflicted on both the Irish and EU beef sector from a bad Mercosur deal. He said the EU’s own Impact Assessment shows that a Mercosur deal is bad and will damage the European beef sector. “It is essential that the quality beef suckler cow herd in Ireland, France and other EU countries must be protected and it is totally unacceptable that the EU Commission would make any offer that would undermine Europe’s production base.”
IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said it is incredible to think that the EU is considering an offer on beef in Mercosur with Brexit up in the air and arrests over the Brazilian meat scandal.
He said Irish and farmers cannot understand how the EU Commission would be willing to offer Brazil and others increased access to the European beef market when the see the corruption involved in the Brazilian weak flesh meat scandal, which goes right to the top in Brazil. In addition, the on-going failure of Brazil to meet proper European standards on traceability, food safety and animal health controls and environmental standards is a major issue that must be addressed.
Angus Woods said there are also serious environmental issues with the Mercosur trade deal around the substitution of sustainable European beef with imports from Brazil originating from the destruction of the rainforests.
“There is no room in the EU beef sector for additional imports or concessions to Mercosur. EU beef consumption is down over 20% in the last decade. Concessions in Mercosur will have a devastating impact on farmers, our quality suckler cow herd and lead to job losses in rural areas.”