Irish and European beef farmers must be protected from the import of beef produced under lower standards than EU beef, IFA President Tim Cullinan said at a meeting on Thursday with Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski.
Speaking in his capacity as first vice-president of COPA, Cullinan said there is a serious contradiction between the European Commission’s trade policy and their intent to impose further restrictions on EU farmers here.
The EU is currently in discussion with the Mercosur countries regarding additional environmental commitments.
“Yesterday evening, the EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis told members of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade that Brazil have committed to carbon neutrality, but there is no evidence of this,” he said.
“It’s a stated priority of the Portuguese presidency of the EU to seek swift ratification of the Mercosur agreement. What is under way now is an attempt to come with a ‘fig leaf’ to save the embarrassment of the Commission and to try to appease opponents of the agreement,” he said.
Cullinan said that “Brazil has shown a scant regard for protection of the environment and Irish beef farmers will be left to pay the price with cheaper imports that do not meet EU standards coming into the EU market to undercut EU farmers”.
The double standards at EU level, allowing access to our key markets for products that are not and will not be produced to the exacting standards imposed on Irish and EU farmers must be stopped, he said.
Cullinan said the beef and poultry sectors, and beef farmers in particular, are being sacrificed for large industrial vested interests in this deal at a time when Irish and EU farmers are having additional environmental costs and reduced efficiency imposed on them in new environmental objectives.
He said this contradictory, indefensible and short-sighted approach must be called out.
“Europe does not need these substandard imports of beef, Irish and EU farmers are best placed to meet the needs of EU consumers and policy makers must reflect this in cohesive policy development that supports Irish and EU beef farmers and ensures key markets for our produce are not undermined,” he said.