IFA in Brussels
29 Sep 2017


IFA in Brussels

This week revolved heavily around trade – from WTO discussions at the Public Forum in Switzerland to the news of an EU TRQ offer on beef for the next round of Mercosur talks.

In addition IFA President Joe Healy attended meetings on Brexit and the Food Chain before setting off to attend the 3th EU North America Agriculture Conference in Washington DC.

WTO Public Forum

IFA attended the Plenary session in Geneva which included a high level debate on trade. It was notable that Agriculture did not feature as prominently as in previous years.

A workshop titled “Will Protectionism Trump Inclusive Trade” discussed the inward looking agenda of the America First Policy (‘muscular’) which seeks to buy American and hire American.

Agriculture Committee Meeting at the European Parliament

IFA attended the MEPs discussion following a presentation from Professor Thia Hennessy on the support of sustainable food production. Professor Hennessy looked at examples of global agriculture policy and pointed out that in considering Farm Productivity and Resource Use Efficiency, innovation was key to decoupling growth from environmental impact. However in comparison to other countries, the EU had a low level of support for Research and Development as a share of total support.

Jerzy Plewa, Director General of DG Agriculture delivered an Activity Report on CAP Performance for 2016 and defended the low error rate (less than 2%) on Direct Payments. Overall performance was positive in terms of EU exports, competitiveness and recovering rural employment although biodiversity continued its decline.

POCC Meeting – Policy Coordinators meeting

Almost all Associations were in attendance for the coordinators meeting on Thursday 28th Sept. It was reported that the Commission conference on the EU Budget heard from a Think Tank group which advocated cuts to the CAP budget in order to fund other new policies. Guideline documents for Live Animal Transportation were presented and the NFU highlighted how these should be just for professional transport and exclude in-farm transport of animals. The COPA Working party on Environment will be held on 21st November.

COPA Animal Welfare Working Group

Bert Stewart was in Brussels to attend the working group where Spanish candidate Miguel Angel Higuera was elected the new chairperson with François-Régis HUET (France) and Adam DROSIO (Poland) candidates elected as vice chairs.


The first meeting of the Brexit Task Force was held on Thursday 28th Sept with President Joe Healy and IFA Brexit Coordinator Elaine Farrell in attendance.

The objective of This task force is to provide a political and technical voice to the EU farmer position as a result of the Brexit negotiations. It was felt that Member States will not give Mr. Barnier the mandate to progress with Trade Discussions as sufficient progress has not yet been made in negotiations at this time. The Brexit Task force agreed to develop a concise position statement drawing on the COPA Brexit technical document and to be reviewed in 4 weeks’ time. The next meeting will be held on Oct 26th and it is hoped to have a member of the Commission TF50 (Task Force) team attend the meeting.


An offer of a 70,000t cwe beef TRQ has emerged as the EU’s opening gambit as the Trade Commissioner Malmstrom heads to Brasilia for the next round of Mercosur negotiations. It is likely to be tabled and the Irish beef sector is further threatened should this figure rise during endgame negotiations. It is ominous and the IFA protest planned for Dublin on Wed 4th Oct will contribute to the discontent of beef farmers across Europe with the Commission’s stance on this most sensitive sector.

COPA Working Group on the Food Chain

President Joe Healy chaired the working group on Food Chain on Friday 29th Sept with a 2 hour discussion on the content of the COPA response to the public consultation document which will be submitted by COPA. Elaine Farrell has compiled the IFA response which will be submitted ahead of the Nov 17th deadline. A presentation was made to the group by Alexandra Benovicsova from the Slovak Permanent Representation in Brussels highlighting the activity of the Member States from Eastern Europe in pushing for Food Chain reform including the issue of dual quality products.

Up next

  • 2-4th Oct: EU-North America Agriculture Conference, Washington DC attended by President Joe Healy and Liam MacHale
  • 9th Oct: Agriculture Council Luxembourg
  • 10th Oct: COPA Working Party on Phytosanitary Questions
  • 11-12th Oct: COPA Working Party on Cereals and Cereals CDG


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