IFA National livestock Committee Chairman Henry Burns said it is totally unacceptable that the EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht is ready to inflict severe damage on the Irish and European livestock sector with a substantial increase in beef imports from an EU-Canada trade deal.
Henry Burns called on the Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton and Agricultural Minister Simon Coveney, in their roles under the EU Presidency, to intervene strongly at the highest level to prevent what is being flagged as a very bad deal for the Irish and European beef and livestock farmers.
“Agriculture and particularly our hugely important beef sector cannot be sacrificed in these negotiations..” Henry Burns said a recent IFA study of the importance of the Cattle and Sheep sectors to the Irish economy by Professor Alan Renwick from UCD shows that the €2.3bn output at farm gate level creates total output of €5.7bn. In addition the Irish cattle and sheep sectors support 100,000 farmers and over 50,000 jobs in the wider economy.
The IFA Livestock leader said “It is clear Canada is seeking access for a substantial volume of beef imports into the EU and there is no doubt the USA will be seeking a major increase in the volumes they already have on the valuable EU market.” He said Commissioner de Gucht cannot be allowed to negotiate in a similar, damaging way in the EU-US negotiations.
Henry Burns said said European producers and consumers will not accept imports from production systems where the use of hormones in beef, BST growth promoters in milk and the beta-agonist drug ractopamine in cattle and pigs – all banned in Europe – is common practice. “Europe cannot agree to any imports which fail to meet EU standards on the critical issues of food safety, traceability, environmental protection and animal welfare.”
The IFA livestock leader said in view of the high sensitivity of the EU market for beef to imports, the EU must rule out any significant increase in imports in this sensitive product area.
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.