Commission hits back at IFA over 'sweetheart deal' and 'sub-standard' beef import claims

IFA President Joe Healy and EU Commissioner Phil Hogan at the Brexit conference in Kildare. Photo: Finbarr O’Rourke
IFA President Joe Healy and EU Commissioner Phil Hogan at the Brexit conference in Kildare. Photo: Finbarr O’Rourke
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The EU Commission has hit back at comments from the IFA that the agreement between the EU and the US on the importation of beef amounted a ‘sweetheart deal with President Trump’ and that sub-standard beef coming into the EU .

A spokesperson for the Commission said the suggestion as well as what it described as the 'misleading association' of  the agreement with the political deal reached recently with Mercosur, demonstrate a 'fundamental misunderstanding' of what has been agreed with the United States.

“The reality is that this agreement is no more than a solution to a longstanding dispute in the WTO, going back to the 1990s and replaces an interim solution reached in 2009.”

The spokesperson said that “the essential point is that not one single additional tonne of beef will be imported to the EU as a result of this deal. The satisfactory conclusion of these negotiations brings a 30 year-old trade dispute to an end and, with that, the end of any threat of US retaliatory action, which might have had a negative impact on EU agri-food products.  Such action would certainly not have been in the interests of European farmers.”

However, IFA Livestock Chairman Angus Woods has said this is another example of beef farmers being sacrificed for other sectors.

He described the deal between the EU and the US, announced by Trump, on the non-hormone beef quota as a “backdoor arrangement” facilitated by the recent Mercosur agreement.

IFA president Joe Healy leads the way during last week's IFA protest at the EU Food & Veterinary Offices in Grange, Co. Meath PHOTO: KENNETH O'HALLORAN
IFA president Joe Healy leads the way during last week's IFA protest at the EU Food & Veterinary Offices in Grange, Co. Meath PHOTO: KENNETH O'HALLORAN

“The EU has reallocated most of the non-hormone quota to the US and allocated the South American countries that had used most of this quota an additional 99,000t of extra quota, in the Mercosur deal.”

Meanwhile, in a further spat between the Commission and the IFA, Agriculture Commission Phil Hogan called on the IFA to provide evidence of sub-standard product being imported into the EU should provide that evidence.

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He said anyone that can provide such evidence can be assured that it will be thoroughly investigated by the Commission.

His comments come as IFA’s National Council and Livestock Committee members protested at the EU Food & Veterinary Offices, in Grange, Co. Meath recently calling for 'substandard' imports of beef to the EU to be stopped.

Commenting on claims that the EU should immediately discontinue the importation of “sub-standard” beef from South America, Commissioner Hogan said “all agri-food products imported to the EU, whether from South America or elsewhere, must meet stringent EU standards.

"Failure to meet these standards will result in the product being returned to the country of origin. The EU insists on the strict application of sanitary standards in the interests of both EU producers and consumers. This is the case today and will continue to be the case in the future," he said.

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