Visit to EU-approved Brazilian farms

EU inspectors are visiting the 106 Brazilian farms allowed last week to export meat to Europe without restriction or quota.

“These establishments meet the requirements, at least on paper,” said the EU ambassador to Brazil, Joao Pacheco, though he warned they would be struck off if they failed the inspections.

Other Brazilian farms may be added to the list if they measure up to EU safety requirements.

IFA president Pádraig Walshe said beef from 106 Brazilian farms, which have 86,000 cattle, will have no impact on Irish cattle prices, as the volume will be no more than 2,000 tonnes per year. The farms, mostly in the state of Minas Gerais, represent only about 2.3% of the 4,500 cattle ranches in Brazil.

The EU banned Brazilian beef from February 1 because of insufficient animal health and traceability systems on many previously inspected farms. Brazilian officials said the ban was unjustifiable and arbitrary — but later admitted they had exported beef that did not meet EU safety standards.

Mr Pacheco noted that Europe did not produce enough beef for its needs and had to import, and said there was no protectionist motive behind the EU ban.

In 2007, Brazil sent about 280,000 tonnes of beef and beef products, almost half of the EU’s beef imports. Of that, 194,000 tonnes was raw beef subject to the EU ban, the rest was processed meat, not subject to the ban.

Despite the EU ban, Brazilian cattle prices have remained firm, reaching historical highs in US dollar terms.

* Argentina’s government has stopped beef exports in a bid to lower domestic prices. In 2005, Argentina was the second-largest exporter of beef to the EU, supplying 22% of EU imports.

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