EU beef being sacrificed for sake of Mercosur trade deal, IFA claims

Farmers’ group lashes out at ‘toxic’ deal as negotiations begin in Brussels

 

The EU beef market is being sacrificed for the sake of the Mercosur trade deal, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has claimed.

As EU negotiators begin trade talks with their South American counterparts in Brussels, IFA president Joe Healy said any EU deal on beef with Brazil in the Mercosur negotiations was “toxic”.

He called on the EU Trade Commissioner Celia Maelstrom to come clean and reject the environmental destruction, failures on food safety and animal welfare, and slave labour associated with Brazilian beef.

Mr Healy was speaking following meetings with senior EU Commission officials this week, including with the chief EU negotiator on the deal, Sandra Gallina.

Mercosur and EU negotiators will meet for the next number of days in Brussels with the EU expected to offer to include an annual import quota of up to 70,000 tonnes of South American beef as part of the deal.

Mr Healy said Irish and European beef farmers are “very angry” at the way they are being sacrificed in Mercosur and “there is bad blood over the excessive offer of an additional 70,000 tonnes tariff-rate quota offered by the EU”.

He said Irish and European farmers are required to meet the highest food safety and environmental standards in the world. “It is a total contradiction of European policy that Commissioner Maelstrom is now willing to cut a deal for more beef imports from Brazil and sacrifice sustainable production in Europe. ”

European farmers fear they will be unable to compete with cheaper beef imports from South America, where the cost of production is significantly lower than in Europe.

The EU ranks as the number two importer of Brazilian meats, just behind Hong Kong and before China, buying $1.7 billion in frozen and fresh beef, chicken, pork and other meat products last year.