Suckler beef producers could lose €64m in deal, eco group warns

Irish suckler beef producers could be face up to €64m in lost imports following a TTIP deal, a Friends of the Earth Europe report has warned.

FEE’s report on the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks notes that Ireland is listed as having the EU’s largest suckler beef herd.

If the US is granted a 50 000 tonne quota, Irish beef output will increase by 2.3% but its total value will fall by 1.7% (€34m) as prices drop.

If a 75,000 tonne US quota is granted, Irish beef output will fall by 0.8% and its value will fall by 3.2% (€64m), the report states.

The FEE report raises serious concerns for the future viability of many agri-food producers across a range of categories.

Agri-food faces being traded off for other sectors viewed as more core to the EU economy, FEE cautions.

“Studies foreseeing a decline of up to 0.8% for EU agriculture’s contribution to gross domestic product, while US agriculture’s contribution to it will increase by 1.9%, a net trade benefit to US interests of over €4bn,” the FEE report states.

Suckler beef is cited as especially vulnerable to lower prices and lower standards from US imports, while negative impacts are also predicted for rural areas and consumer interests.

Friends of the Earth Ireland chairperson, Dr Cara Augustenborg, said: “Member states led by Ireland and France have been pushing for the EU to conduct an impact assessment of TTIP on European agriculture. Our report confirms TTIP will lower the value of most Irish agri products, particularly beef, as our farming systems can’t compete on price with the environmentally-damaging, factory-farming systems of the US.”

She said Irish farmers and consumers alike should be very concerned about US calls for the EU to weaken its position on GM foods, pesticide rules, and the bans on hormones and pathogen washes in meat production.

“The quality of our food is superior to US products with respect to EU food production and safety standards. It’s critical to protect those standards,” she said.

The FEE report uses modelling studies conducted to predict potential impacts on beef, dairy, arable, pork and poultry, incorporating research by IFA, ICMSA and ICOS, among others.

For dairy, the ICMSA warns that if all of the reduction in value added is absorbed by farmers, farmers’ incomes would fall despite any rise in exports to the US.

An emerging concern noted in the report is that dairy may be traded off against a special category of products called GIs, or Geographical Indicators.

These are traditional, regionally specific products. Ireland has very few GIs and has listed none for protection in the Canadian trade deal - CETA - which is seen as a precursor for TITP.

Arable crops fare poorly too. An EU modelling report from 2014 predicted change in cereals value added output will be -4.2% for Ireland, but +1.3% for the US.

Of 10 EU member states or regions listed, only Spain and Portugal performed worse than Ireland. This European Parliament report predicts that eliminating tariffs and reducing non-tariff measures will also lead to a fall in arable oilseed crops of -2.4% for Ireland.

Though the modelling is considered weaker for pork and poultry, a fall of 2.7% in white meat output in Ireland, under conditions of full tariff removal and 25% reduction in non tariff measures, is revealed.


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