The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) national livestock chairman Angus Woods said the EU's decision to ban another 20 Brazilian meat plants because they failed to meet EU standards fully backs up the repeated calls to reject any increase in meat imports from Brazil in the Mercosur negotiations.
Woods said EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström needed to realise that the Brazilians would “continue to fail on standards and she should pull the plug on any additional beef imports in the negotiations” and claimed the EU Commission was too easy on Brazil and was listening too much to Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi.
He said: “Commissioner Cecilia Malmström is extremely naive to believe that the Brazilians are going to conform to the rules in any Mercosur trade agreement with the EU, especially with regard to meeting EU standards on beef or other meat imports. It is clear Commissioner Malmström is out of her depth in these negotiations and the Brazilians are pulling the wool over her eyes on the critical issue of standards.
“The record speaks for itself; EU audits show that, for the last 18 years, the Brazilians have consistently failed to meet EU standards on the critical issues of traceability, food safety, animal and plant health, environmental and labour standards. The Brazilians have thrown away the rule book, the latest example being the major meat scandal and fraud ‘Weak Flesh’ from this time last year, which is still running at the very highest administration and political levels in Brazil.”
Woods said Malmström had already given in to the Brazilians too many times.
“The only thing we have seen from Commissioner Malmström in these negotiations is giveaway after giveaway of the European meat sector, with little or nothing in return. The Commissioner has already capitulated to the Brazilians in these negotiations, moving from an offer 45,000t to 70,000t and now the Brazilians are looking for way more.”
Woods added EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan had to face down the trade commissioner and insist that the EU did not give any more concessions to the Brazilians.
“One arm of the Commission is prepared to do this deal and undermine the environment and animal welfare, while European farmers are lectured on climate change and maintaining the highest welfare standards.
“The negotiating strategy flies in the face of everything that the EU stands for, and what is happening in terms of Brexit. Beef is more important to Ireland than any other EU member state. Commissioner Hogan cannot agree to a Mercosur deal involving a major increase in substandard beef imports from Brazil at the same time as we face into the serious challenges of Brexit.”
Woods concluded that with Brexit, the EU beef market would be 116% self-sufficient and that to negotiate a trade deal with Mercosur at this time made no sense whatsoever.