UFU Raises Concerns Over Mercosur Trade Deal

IRELAND - The Ulster Farmers’ Union has raised concerns over the current trade deal being discussed between the EU and Mercosur Countries.
calendar icon 28 February 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

UFU Beef and Lamb Chairman Ray Elkin said; “The potential for a Mercosur trade deal is of great concern to the UFU, and could have a devastating impact on Northern Ireland’s beef sector in particular.”

The proposed deal, which is backed by the EU President Barroso and Trade Commissioner De Gucht, would likely see a reduction in tariffs on beef imports into Europe from these countries, resulting in them being available at a significantly reduced price and in greater volume.

Ray Elkin continued; “The Mercosur trade deal has the potential to be extremely damaging to our livestock industry. Worryingly, we are hearing that initial estimates are showing that it could cost the EU’s beef sector over €10 billion.

"In 2008 the EU imposed a ban on Brazilian beef and the fact still remains that neither Brazil nor any of the other South American Countries involved in the negotiations meet or comply with the same traceability, welfare and environmental standards required of EU farmers which add considerable cost to production. Numerous EU Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) inspections in these countries have shown this to be fact.

"It would be totally unacceptable to allow beef produced at these lower standards to undermine and undercut the quality beef produced in the EU.

“I also have serious concerns over the environmental impact any deal could have both to the EU and Mercosur countries. A sustainability impact assessment report in 2009 highlighted that in Brazil alone around 55 million hectares of land would need to be brought into production to accommodate the predicted growth in beef exports. This would involve clearing huge tracks of Amazon Forest and would be an ecological disaster. At the same time there would be significant environmental and ecological damage to the European countryside as the grazing livestock, an essential tool in the management of these areas, disappear.

“It is not only Northern Ireland beef production which under threat but the entire beef and sheepmeat processing sector which in 2009 had a gross turnover of £817 million and 3,335 full-time employee equivalents.”

The UFU will be discussing the issue with our UK Union counterparts, as well as Northern Ireland’s MEPs in Brussels to highlight our concerns. The UFU will also to continue to work with COPA, the EU farmers’ union, which the UFU is a part of, who remains firmly opposed to the proposals and is lobbying to have the deal stopped. COPA will release their own impact assessment paper on a potential deal shortly.

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