The EU has been urged by the Irish Farmers’ Association to take note of a decision by the US to suspend all imports of fresh beef from Brazil because of recurring concerns about the safety of the products.
US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said although international trade is an important part of the USDA, and Brazil has long been one of its partners, his first priority is to protect American consumers.
“That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef. I commend the work of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families,” he said.
IFA Livestock Committee chairman Angus Woods called on Brussels to remove beef from any trade deal with the Mercosur group of South American countries.
Irish and European farmers will be rightly questioning how EU negotiators can continue to engage with Mercosur given the USDA decision.
He said the Mercosur countries had consistently failed to meet EU standards on the key issues of traceability, animal health and welfare controls, the ban on hormone growth promoters, and environmental controls.
Mr Woods said the US authorities have recognised there is a problem and have insisted that consumers cannot be exposed to food products that do not meet US standards.
Ulster Farmers’ Union president, Barclay Bell said it is wrong that the European Commission is pressing ahead with attempts to secure a free trade deal with the Mercosur countries when there is such a big question mark over the fitness of one of the key players to export food.
“We agree with other farm lobby organisations that these talks should be delayed until that is resolved,” he said.
Mr Bell said nothing that had emerged from the Commission or in Brazil had altered his view that a full scale ban on imports of Brazilian beef to Europe should be implemented immediately.
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