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Irish Beef Threatened By Mercusor Imports

06 May 2010

IRELAND - Irish Farmer's Association President, John Bryan, has asked the Irish Prime Minister, Brian Cowen to intervene with teh EU Commission to defend the Irish beef sector against a real threat of increased beef imports from Brazil and other South American countries under a bilateral Mercusor deal.

Mr Bryan said he was very concerned about moves by the EU Commission to re-open discussions with Brazil and other South American countries with a view to agreeing a bi-lateral deal on agriculture with the Mercusor trading group.

The IFA President said: “Any attempt to increase beef imports from Brazil and South America would have devastating consequences for our livestock sector. The Prime Minister must insist that this matter is not progressed and convey in the strongest terms to the EU Commission the damage that an increase in imports would have on the future growth potential of the agri-food sector, and Ireland’s economic recovery.”

By negotiating on increased beef imports from Brazil, Mr Bryan said the EU Commission is failing in its responsibility to prevent further destruction if the rainforest, which is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Bryan said the latest move by Commission President Barosso to increase beef imports from Brazil, where production fails to comply with European standards, shows that the EU Commission is failing in its duty to safeguard European consumers and is undermining European producers.

He said Irish and European farmers operate to the highest international standards of food safety, animal identification and traceability with strict controls on animal medicines and animal disease. He said European consumers believe that all beef on sale in Europe meets these standards and have a right to expect no double standards in the Commission’s import policy.

The IFA President said European consumers also expect that the EU will not accept beef imports from Brazil, which are produced at a real cost in terms of climate change involving widespread destruction of the rainforests in the Panthanal and Amazon regions. In addition, he said Brazil also tries to cover up the severe social consequences of worker exploitation labour associated with the displacement of native rainforest peoples by corporate ranchers.

The IFA leader said: “The production, environmental and social practices in Brazil fly in the face of EU controls and standards. There is no way the EU Commission can pretend Brazilian beef imports come anywhere near satisfying EU standards and consumer expectations.”

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