Speaking at the protest, IFA President Joe Healy said, “The crisis in the beef sector is an EU-wide problem driven by Brexit uncertainty and falling consumption. This is compounded by substandard imports coming into the EU. The situation is now intolerable for farmers and solutions must come from Brussels and the Irish Government.”
Joe Healy said the first move by the EU must be to stop substandard imports, which are undermining the EU beef market.
While farmers have rightly been outraged at the recent EU/Mercosur trade deal, which has yet to be ratified, the real scandal is that significant quantities of substandard beef from Brazil are already coming onto the EU market,” he said.
“Beef is being produced in Brazil using substances and practices which are illegal in the EU. This is ‘unfair competition’ and it is damaging cattle prices and farm incomes, not only in Ireland but across the EU”.
In 2017, the EU Commission- Food and Veterinary Office (FVO), based here in Co. Meath, issued a report highlighting that the Brazilian competent authority was not able to guarantee that the relevant EU requirements are being met. The report states that previous ‘written guarantees’ given by the Brazilian authorities to the EU were ‘not reliable’”.
“In 2018 270,000 tonnes of substandard beef imports come into the EU market at an average rate of 22,500 per month and this has continued in 2019” he said.
The IFA President said the facts are;
- Brazilian cattle are not tagged or identified and there is no traceability.
- Hormones, beta agonists and other growth promoters are widely available. These products are all illegal and banned in the EU.
- Brazil is burning the equivalent size of one football pitch of rainforest every minute, to expand beef production.
- Brazil has endemic Foot and Mouth disease, which is a constant risk.
Irish and European beef producers, who produce beef to the highest standards in the world are looking at their livelihoods being wiped out, not because a better product exists at a cheaper price, but because the EC is turning a blind eye to flagrant production violations in return for South American market access.
In addition to this request, the IFA also demanding that Commissioner Hogan make €1bn available immediately in the form of direct aid and market supports to address the beef crisis.
The urgent measures being sought by IFA are:
- An immediate ban on all substandard South American beef imports
- A further fund to compensate farmers who supplied cattle post-May 12th 2019 and are currently losing €4m per week on beef prices
- €1bn Brexit fund of market supports and direct aid for farmers
- An EU campaign to promote our environmentally sustainable EU beef production.
Angus Woods, IFA Livestock Chairman said, “Commissioner Hogan has consistently said the Commission has the tools to address market disturbance. Brexit is already causing huge uncertainty and currency volatility. The Commission needs to bring forward the €1bn fund now, to provide strong market supports and direct aid for farmers”.