IFA President Joe Healy said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar must strongly support the tough stance taken by the French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron on Mercosur. The French Prime Minister insisted that the negotiations would be discussed at the EU Summit last night and he has warned against rushing into a deal with the South American countries, including Brazil, which would damage EU agriculture and especially the beef sector.
Joe Healy said, “The beef sector in Ireland is more important to our national economy than any other member state. The Taoiseach has recently raised the danger for Irish beef farmers in the event of a Mercosur deal with the Commission President Jean Claude Junckner, and we expect him to keep our concerns to the forefront at EU level”.
Speaking at the EU Commission Civil Dialogue in Brussels earlier this week, IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods told senior EU officials that the Commission was turning a blind eye on standards in the Mercosur negotiations to try and agree a deal regardless of the costs or consequences for European agriculture.
Angus Woods contrasted the high production standards involved in EU beef production with the complete lack of standards that apply to imports from countries like Brazil and other Latin American states. He said it is completely unacceptable that the EU Commission continues to accept this policy of double standards when it comes to imports.
“Our system of traceability means all calves are double tagged and registered on a central database, providing full traceability from birth to slaughter. In Brazil and other Latin American countries they have non-existent or unreliable tagging or traceability systems. Animals exported to the EU are often only tagged 40 to 90 days pre slaughter. This is loosely enforced and sometimes tags are sent in the truck to the slaughter house with the cattle.”
On movement controls, he said in Europe all details and movements are fully monitored and recorded on a central database and available at slaughter. In Brazil, there are no movement controls prior to animals arriving in the feed lots for the last 90 days. He said with no tagging or traceability, animals from unknown origin are exported to the EU and this has been confirmed many times by the EU auditors, the FVO (Food and Veterinary Office).
Angus Woods said there is strict control on all animal medicines used in Europe with all animal antibiotics under veterinary control and only available on prescription. Withdrawal dates/periods are fully adhered to and there is routine residue testing.