EU Beef Imports Must Meet EU Standards

IRELAND, UK - The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) has welcomed EU Farm Commissioner Marianne Fischer-Boel’s comments at the World Meat Congress in Cape Town that imports of beef to the EU must meet EU standards.
calendar icon 23 September 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

UFU President Graham Furey said; “This is an issue which the EU has repeatedly been weak on and it is only recently that the Commission have started to take a stronger line. EU farmers must comply with strict production standards which inevitably lead to higher costs. Cheap food imports to the EU, produced to a lesser standard, is unacceptable. Our constant lobbying on Brazilian beef was eventually vindicated and it is encouraging to see our Farm, Commissioner adopting a clear stance on this issue”.

Marianne Fischer-Boel on a previous visit to Northern Ireland.
Photo: UFU

The Commissioner said the EU beef market was well balanced; “Europe's public beef stocks have been at zero since the spring of 2004 – and consequently, imports have increased. In the European pig meat sector rising feed costs have put it under pressure during the last year or so. Over the last 12 years, the average pig producer margin was about € 50 per 100 kilograms. By early 2008, it had dropped close to zero. The figure in some Member States was even below zero. Thankfully, pig producer margins have improved gradually and are now re-approaching their long-term average. Because of this clear market recovery, I decided to put refunds for fresh and frozen pigmeat carcases, cuts and bellies back at zero as of early August”.

Referring to food standards she said; “We have been rigorously enforcing high standards, and we have restored our solid reputation for safety and quality. It is essential that anyone who wants to export to the European Union meets our safety standards. Those standards are not arbitrary. Nor were they dreamt up to act as a barrier to trade. They are in place because European citizens demand them. In a market where food safety scares have caused so much damage, high standards are the essential foundation of consumer confidence.

On the other hand, I'm a firm believer in the importance of trade, and I want to see these problems cleared up as soon as possible. We are doing what we can to help Brazilian producers meet European requirements, and I trust that these efforts will bear fruit in the medium term.

Also, it's an ongoing irritation that potential European meat exports are still shut out of markets around the world, without any justification.

There are still countries which use BSE as a pretext for an import ban, in a way that is not supported by the OIE (the World Organisation for Animal Health)”.

Referring to pig trade the Commissioner stated; “So far this year, our pig meat exports have been doing well. Then, very suddenly, the authorities in one of our biggest export markets: Russia - began blocking imports from various European companies, one at a time. Here again, I fear that food safety issues are being used as a smokescreen for protectionist behaviour”.

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