Mr. Woods said that these negotiations can’t continue because of the recent Brazilian meat Scandal.
He said this is based on the recent revelations of political and administrative corruption within the Brazilian beef industry and government. He added that he feels it is not a credible option for the European commission to continue Mercosur negotiations on agricultural issues.
Mr. Woods called for the suspension of said trade talks, saying, “The scandal in Brazil has shown that there are systematic failures in the controls in the country and the EU Commission can no longer credibly rely on the authorities there to certify meat exports to the EU.”
Angus Woods continued by adding that continued engagement with Mercosur means the Commission are undermining the position of European farmers within the industry. He said the Commission risk damaging the good name EU farmers have for high food safety, traceability, environmental and health standards.
Mr Woods also said the recent revelations of bribery and corruption have sent shockwaves through the sector, adding that it appears that leniency deals are being offered to senior offenders in this scandal by the Brazilian government.
It was reported in recent days that hundreds of politicians are embroiled in the bribery scandal.
Angus Woods said he met with the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis in Dublin recently and mentioned the IFA’s position on the scandal.
He said “Since the ‘Weak Flesh scandal’ story broke in the Brazilian media on March 17th this year, the real story regarding the sheer extent and political involvement in the scandal and corruption is only beginning to emerge in Brazil.”
Angus Woods also said the EU Commission FVO (Food and Veterinary Office) has carried out numerous investigations on standards in Brazil in recent weeks and he also called for the publication of these reports with immediate effect.
Angus Woods said this latest meat scandal and ongoing corruption in Brazil point to a systematic breakdown of standards and controls, while adding that investigations carried out in 2006/7 suggest that the Commission were fully aware of the situation.
The IFA Livestock Leader called again the EU Commission must withdraw from trade talks with Mercosur while this investigation is ongoing. He said “Standards and controls have to be at the centre of any trade discussions. The EU Commission cannot stand over negotiations with the Mercosur group against the backdrop of these very serious issues in Brazil.”
Mr. Woods also said that these latest developments also show the urgent need for a strong policy on standards in the context of Brexit. He said, “In the IFA policy document on Brexit we have set out very clearly the need for equivalent standards on food safety, animal health, welfare and the environment and the need for the application of the Common External Tariff for imports to both the EU and UK”.
The IFA Livestock chairman also said he believes the details of the full story are yet to be released, while adding he finds it hard to believ the Commission were unaware of the scandal prior to media reports. He concluded by saying “It is incredible that the EU Commission was only made aware of the issue through media reports. Attempts by the Brazilian authorities to try to confine the scandal to a limited number of establishments are not credible, when the reports indicate that the government inspection and control authorities were operating fraudulently and taking bribes from processors to buy certificates.”