ICSA president Patrick Kent has reacted in response to recent comments made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who said he would insist on the ‘highest standards’ of animal welfare, health and safety should a deal on beef be struck with the Mercosur trading bloc.
Mr. Kent has accused an Taoiseach of not hearing the concerns of the Irish beef sector if he is of the believe that the Mercosur talks are about ensuring higher standards in Brazilian beef imports.
“Mr Varadkar needs to understand very quickly that the issue is the flooding of the EU market with 70,000 extra tons of beef at a time when our exports of 270,000 tons to the UK are under threat from Brexit. The Brexit threat means that any EU beef quota for Brazil is unacceptable especially as the UK could end up with a separate import deal from South America.”
Mr. Kent has said that ensuring that standards are met on South American beef imports does not address “the heart of the issue”.
“It goes no way towards addressing whether it should ever be allowed into the EU in the first place.” Kent added.
“The truth is that we will hear a lot of wishful thinking about forcing Brazilian beef imports to meet EU standards but the evidence from the meat adulteration scandal in Brazil earlier this year proves that they can’t be trusted. Worse, it shows that the EU’s monitoring is ineffective in the face of blatant fraud and bribery in South America.”
Report on Brazilian meat scandal
“This has been borne out in a report published this week by EU Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) on the recent Brazilian meat scandal. The report clearly states that they could not guarantee meat products coming into the EU from South America adhere to EU standards.”
Irish beef industry
Mr. Kent stressed that ICSA believe that “a large quantity of beef imports has the potential to decimate the beef industry here.”
“This, together with the fact that EU officials could not stand over the safety of what is being presented to consumers makes the decision to include beef quotas in the deal illogical. The mooted proposal of a 70,000 beef quota should finally be taken off the table.” Kent added.
The ICSA president has said that the “only position which Ireland can take is full opposition to beef quotas in the Mercosur deal.”
“This should be underlined at the EU summit as a key issue particularly in the context of market disruption due to Brexit.” He added.
“The Taoiseach needs to be careful not to undermine his own credibility with statements which suggest he believes that there are circumstances in which more Brazilian beef exports would be acceptable.” Patrick concluded.