Safeguarding The EU Beef Sector

EU - Industry leaders have taken part in high level talks to resolve market volatilities within the EU beef sector.
calendar icon 20 June 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

The special meeting of the European Commission’s Advisory Group on the Beef Sector was convened by Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş.

Its aim was to look at how market instruments can be adapted to stabilise the sector as it suffers extreme price instability caused by input cost hikes, exasperated by drought conditions in many Member States.

It was the first meeting for the group which now hopes to agree an action plan prior to July’s Agriculture Council which could then be included in forthcoming CAP proposals.

National Farmers' Union livestock board chairman Alastair Mackintosh, representing the UK livestock industry, said it had been a productive meeting.

“First of all we welcome the acknowledgment from the Commission that there are severe problems facing the sector,” added Mr Mackintosh, who is also vice chairman of European farmers’ organisation Copa’s working party on beef.

“Input prices have gone through the roof yet farmers are not receiving equivalent increases in the beef price. Many UK beef farmers are struggling to make ends meet and those that can make money are nervous of investment because doing so with unclear future market signals and increasing volatility in input prices is risky.

“Our advice to the Commission has been to look at implementing a package of measures to help improve the sector’s outlook. The importance of market access was also discussed where we stressed the need to strengthen the export capacity of the EU beef sector by obtaining access to strategic markets and simplifying the export licence paperwork.

“We have asked that existing provisions within council regulations are made fit for purpose and relevant to present market conditions such as insurance as well as exceptional market support measures that better reflects input costs and profit margins. We also want to see the sector benefit from rapid movement along the TSE roadmap and a proportionate cross compliance regime.

“The Commission must also conduct a cost-benefit analysis of trade deals, such as Mercosur, to ensure that the EU does truly benefit from such arrangements. Imports must comply with production standards met by EU farmers - it is ridiculous to impose high welfare, environmental and food safety standards on EU farmers only to import cheaper beef from countries with lower standards.

“We also asked the Commission to promote and encourage EU beef consumption. For instance, we must have mandatory labelling of meat products to tell consumers where the animal was born, reared and slaughtered.

“The Commission listened carefully to our advice and we hope to see this reflected in the final action plan in July.”

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