With the opening of the EU-US trade talks this week, IFA National Livestock Committee Chairman Henry Burns said both Irish and European negotiators need to be extremely careful that our important agriculture sector and particularly our €2bn beef and livestock production is not placed in the firing line and sacrificed in these negotiations.
Henry Burns said the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and Trade Minister Richard Bruton need to be very strong to ensure that the real concerns of the Irish beef and livestock sector are not brushed aside in the drive to secure an EU-US trade deal. He said there is no doubt the US will be seeking a substantial increase in the volume of beef imports into the valuable EU market.
The IFA livestock leader said the European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht is proposing to inflict severe damage on the Irish and European livestock sector with a substantial increase in beef imports from a EU-Canada trade deal. He said Commissioner de Gucht cannot be allowed to negotiate in a similar damaging way in the EU-US negotiations.
Henry Burns said any increase in beef imports into the European Union will have very damaging economic, environmental and social consequences across rural communities in Ireland and Western Europe that depend on livestock production for their livelihoods.
The IFA livestock leader said the EU Commission cannot agree to any beef imports which fail to meet EU standards on the critical issues of food safety, traceability, environmental protection and animal welfare. In addition, he said European consumers have real concerns with production systems where hormones and ractopamine are used, pointing out that these are banned in the European Union.