At a meeting of the 27 EU member states in Brussels last week, IFA National Livestock Committee Chairman Henry Burns was unanimously elected chairman of the important EU Commission Beef Advisory Committee.
The EU Beef Advisory Committee is a pan European group of experts representing farmers, co-operatives, processors, traders, consumers and other NGO’s which advise the European Commission on all aspect of the €50bn European beef and livestock sector.
Speaking at the meeting in Brussels Henry Burns said the key priority for the EU beef sector and producers is ensuring a strong and positive outcome to the Ciolos CAP Reform negotiations over the next few months.
The new EU Beef Advisory Chairman said a critical issue for Europe is maintaining the beef production base and especially the high quality beef suckler cow herd. He said while beef prices have increased and must be maintained, costs across all member states have risen dramatically with incomes on beef and livestock farms remaining at unacceptably low levels.
Henry Burns said “In the CAP Reform negotiations, it is essential to maintain strong direct payments in the beef sector and to protect the suckler cow herd with producers in many member states favouring strong coupled payments.”
At the meeting in Brussels Henry Burns said the Advisory Group were very clear in advising Commissioner Ciolos and the Commission that he must take on board the flexibilities demanded by the Council of Ministers allowing for approximation, variable greening and strong coupling for vulnerable sectors in order to support and target production.
On international trade negotiations and various bi-lateral deals including Canada and the USA, Henry Burns said imports cannot be allowed undermine European beef production. “Considering the fragile balance in European beef sector, low incomes at farm level and the potential damage from any increase in imports, the EU must be strong in rejecting demands for increased market access and insist on tight controls including sensitive product status for beef.”
Henry Burns said under no circumstance can the EU Commission agree to any imports which fail to meet European standards on the critical issues of traceability, animal health, food safety and environmental controls.