IFA President Joe Healy said the EU Commission must act now on the EU Brexit beef crisis, stop substandard beef imports into Europe and also make the €1bn available immediately for direct aid and market supports.
“With cattle prices on the floor and sterling reaching new lows of 90 pence to the euro, urgent action is needed to deal with the very severe crisis in the EU beef sector,” he said.
“Beef prices this week are at €3.60/kg, down 10% from the same day last year when prices were already appalling.”
The EU Commission announced much-needed aid in May, but this only covers the period from September to May this year. More aid is needed immediately and a clear contingency plan must be put in place as we lead up to a potentially catastrophic no deal Brexit at the end of October,” he said.
“Commissioner Hogan has committed that the EU will make up to €1bn available in the event of the recently-announced Mercosur trade deal having a negative impact. The Commission needs to bring this funding on stream now to provide further direct aid to cover Brexit losses and to activate EU market supports immediately to put a floor under EU markets. It is clear that genuine market support measures will need to be in place sooner rather than later,” he said.
“We are being constantly told that the Commission ‘has the tools’ to address market disturbance. Well it’s time to use them before Irish farming is beyond repair,” he said.
Mr. Healy said the EU Commission has explained that ‘a red button’ mechanism is in place to stop substandard imports. “The Commission needs to push the red button now and stop substandard beef which is already coming in from South America. Last year, some 269,000t of beef came into the EU despite serious shortcomings in the standard of that beef,” he said.
The facts are that in Brazil cattle are not tagged 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 has endemic Foot and Mouth disease, which is a constant risk.
“Despite assurances by the Commission over the recent trade deal, the one thing we know is that Mercosur is currently failing to meet EU standards. Two weeks ago, Commissioner Hogan assured European producers and consumers ‘no product will be allowed enter the EU market unless it complies 100% with EU standards’. The Commission should call stop on these imports now and insist they meet EU standards.” he said.
“While we appreciate the importance of trade, Europe has been over generous with these countries by turning a blind eye to double standards, including a report from their own Food and Veterinary Office which states ‘written guarantees’ given by the Brazilian authorities were ‘not reliable’” he said.