Fury over EU plans to up South American imports
UK politicians and nongovernmental organisations pre occupied with Brexit need to waken up to the four- fold threat from an EU deal which could see South American beef flood into Europe.
The warning was made in the wake of rumours that the EU was set to weaken its stance on beef imports in the current trade negotiations with the Mercosur trading block.
Claiming that, as well as putting farming liveli hood sin jeopardy, any offer to increase the import quotas for beef from these countries would have a significant impact on European food safety, animal welfare and the environment, UK f arming unions have called on politicians not to ignore the issue.
NFU Scotland livestock policy manager John Armour said that, while there was still no firm indication exactly how tariff rate quotas ( TRQS) would be shared out after Brexit, such a deal would have considerable ramifications for UK beef producers both before and after the UK left the EU. “Whatever the final Brexit deal looks like, Scottish farmers will still be impacted if detrimental decisions are made in Brussels,” he said.
But UK politicians were taken to task by Ulster Farmers Union president, Bar clay Bell who said: “There has been much focus of late on calls made by UK politicians and NGOS to increase environmental and animal welfare regulations in the UK, post Brexit.
“However, these po litic ian sandNGOs are nowhere to be seen nor heard in the debate around the serious threat posed by the Mercosur trade nego - tiations.”
He said that South American countries did not come close to matching the food safety, animal welfare or environmental standards which farmers complied with in the UK and across Europe.
“It is scandalous that the European Commission is prepared to offer Mercosur increased concessions to export substandard agricultural products such as beef into the EU.”
While no figure had been released by t he commission, it is understood that they were considering allowing an extra 100,000 to 130,000 tonnes of beef into the country on top of the existing 58,000 tonne quota.
“Farmers in the UK comply with world leading standards so it seems completely hypocritical for UK politicians and NGOS to want to keep raising the bar for UK farmers but yet accept much lower standards for inferior products exported from South America which canul timately end up in the UK,” said Bell.