The European Commission has been urged by Irish Farmers Association president Joe Healy to act urgently on the beef crisis.
“With cattle prices on the floor and sterling reaching new lows of 90 pence to the euro, urgent action is needed to deal with the very severe crisis in the EU beef sector.”
Mr Healy said the commission recently announced much-needed aid, but this only covers the period from September to May.
“More aid is needed immediately and a clear contingency plan must be put in place as we lead up to a potentially catastrophic no deal Brexit at the end of October.”
Mr Healy said Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan has committed that the EU will make up to €1bn available in the event of its recently announced trade deal with the Mercosur group of South American countries having a negative impact.
He said the commission needs to bring this funding on stream now to provide further direct aid to cover Brexit losses and to activate supports to put a floor under EU markets. “We are being constantly told that the Commission ‘has the tools’ to address market disturbance. It’s time to use them.”
Mr Healy said the commission has explained that ‘a red button’ mechanism is in place to stop substandard imports but it needs to push the red button now and stop substandard beef which is already coming in from South America.
Last year, some 269,000 tonnes of beef came into the EU despite serious shortcomings in the standard.
“Two weeks ago, commissioner Hogan assured European producers and consumers that no product will be allowed enter the EU market unless it complies 100% with EU standards. The commission should call stop on these imports now and insist they meet EU standards.” he said.
Mr Healy said while it appreciates the importance of trade, Europe has been over generous with these countries by turning a blind eye to double standards.