The IFA President John Bryan has written to the Taoiseach Enda Kenny highlighting the serious concerns of Irish farmers over increases in the volume of beef imports into Europe from the current EU/Canadian trade negotiations. He said, “The talks are progressing rapidly and involve access for substantial volumes of beef imports, which would seriously damage the European beef market and in turn the important €2bn Irish beef and livestock sector”.
John Bryan called on the Taoiseach to make urgent contact with European President Barroso and impress on him Ireland’s fears about any increase in access for beef imports. The IFA is also requesting that the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney raise this important issue with EU Agriculture Commissioner Ciolos, and the Minister for Enterprise and Trade Richard Bruton with EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht.
“The EU/Canadian trade negotiations are now approaching a critical stage, particularly in relation to the exchange of offers on access volumes on the beef side. It appears the Canadians are seeking access for major volumes of beef to the EU market which, if granted, would seriously damage the European market.”
The IFA President said with increased access, the Canadians will target Europe with ‘high value steak cuts’. Out of the total EU beef market of about 8 million tonnes, high value steak cuts account for only 560,000t. While they make up a relatively small part of the volume of the overall carcase, they can account for up to 40% of the value. “Therefore, any increase in the volume of steak imports would have a disproportionately negative impact on European beef and cattle prices. This in turn would impact negatively on cattle prices, farm incomes, production, output, exports and jobs in the Irish beef and livestock sector, which is 90% export orientated.”
John Bryan said any analysis of increased beef imports into the EU point to very negative economic, environmental and social consequences across rural communities in Ireland and other parts of Europe which depend on livestock production for their livelihoods. In addition, he pointed out that thousands of tonnes of beef imports into the EU fail to meet European standards on critical issues such as individual identification and registration, environmental, animal health and welfare standards. The Canadians have very real problems with all of these important standard issues.