An extensive academic study has been published by Friends of the Earth which examines the predicted effects of the TTIP trade talks on agriculture in Europe. The study is based on research commissioned by the EU with economic modelling carried out by numerous organisation including the Centre for Economic Policy Research and Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations.
The EU Food and Drink Industry is worth an estimated €1.2 trillion but export opportunities will not translate into better prices. On the contrary, imports of food and drink will increase to the detriment of EU farmers. Producers supplying the EU from other parts of the world are also be likely to lose out. “Consumer and environmental protection may suffer [..], because both US government and producer organisations are openly calling for the EU to weaken protection in areas such as the approval of GM foods, pesticide safety rules and the bans on hormones and pathogen washes in meat production.”
Geographical Indications (GI) are protected regional products like champagne, cognac, scotch and specialist cheeses etc. They account for just 6% of EU food and wine sales but are fiercely defended by the European Commission. 86% of GI exports come from just three states, France, Britain and Italy. There are fears that negotiations to extend their protection will trade away the rights of other producers.
Studies indicate that if TTIP goes ahead up to $3 billion worth of US beef will be imported into Europe per annum. This would vastly undermine traditional grass-based producers within the EU with “potentially far-reaching social and environmental consequences for some EU regions.”
The US is famously protective of its dairy industry which recent trade negotiations with Pacific nations reflected. While determined not to allow imports to undermine its own industry, the US predicts that under TTIP its exports to the EU will increase by $5.4 billion. The EU expects dairy exports to the US to increase by $3.7 billion, but this will come at a cost of further price decreases here. Most dairy exports to the US will be for cheeses, most of which are Geographical Indications. There are fears that Europe will sell out non GI dairy farmers to maintain GI protection.
The US exports only soya bean products to the EU at present and EU crops are not generally sold in the US. Current restrictions on GM crops in the EU may not last, as US government agencies have said that these regulations are up for negotiation. Cereals production within some EU states may decrease by 6% according to models calculated on tariff elimination. Wheat, maize and oilseed rape production is expected to fall but the impact this will have on farmers is uncertain as they may find other crops to grow.
Poultry and Eggs
Trade in poultry products at present is minimal but under TTIP EU markets would be opened up to US producers. This is of concern to animal welfare groups as regulations are more lax in the US and discussion of animal welfare has been ruled out of the talks. The current model of 'farm to fork' employed by the EU is considered safer, but is more expensive for producers. Chemical washes used in the US for killing off pathogens are not allowed. There are fears that these might be introduced under TTIP.
The EU pork industry is the second largest in the world. It has strict standards of animal welfare and growth promoters such as ractopamine are outlawed. The US does not operate such standards and 60-80% of its pork products contain growth hormones. US negotiators want the EU to end its ractopamine restrictions as well as to abolish tariffs. The EU seems intent on offering the US limited access for ractopamine-free pork only. Economic modelling does not focus on pork specifically but the EU's 'white meat' sector in the Baltic states is predicted to decline by 9% under TTIP.