Farm Ireland

Wednesday 25 April 2018

IFA urges no deal on Mercosur beef

Workers prepare poultry at the meatpacking company JBS in Lapa, Brazil (AP)
Workers prepare poultry at the meatpacking company JBS in Lapa, Brazil (AP)

Farming Independent Team

EU authorities must remove beef from any Mercosur deal with South American countries, as the US moved to ban fresh Brazilian beef, it has been urged.

The US Department of Agriculture informed Brazil that imports of fresh beef would be halted as it cited safety concerns.

It comes after it found repeated import vio­lations, including abscesses and unidentified foreign material in the imports. Since March, US health officials have turned away 11pc or 1.9 million pounds of Brazilian meat.

IFA national livestock chair Angus Woods said the EU authorities must take note and remove beef from any Mercosur deal.

“Irish and European farmers will be rightly questioning how EU negotiators can continue to engage with the Mercosur countries given this decision by the USDA,” he said.

Mr Woods said the Mercosur countries had consistently failed to meet EU standards on the key issues of traceability, animal health and welfare controls, the ban on hormone growth promoters and environmental controls.

He said the US authorities have recognised that there is a problem and have insisted that consumers cannot be exposed to food products that do not meet US standards.

The ICMSA’s Michael Guinan said there was a “stark contrast” in the US action compared with the discussions at EU level.

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“We can never accept a situation where food can be sold in the EU that we know for a fact has been produced to a far, far lower standard than the food that is produced within the EU,” he said.

MEP Mairead McGuinness has already urged caution in giving any concession on beef that could damage the EU beef market.

The MEP said it’s clear there is momentum for agreement, with the Commission indicating a deal is possible by the end of the year.

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