Irish farmers protest against processors and Mercosur deal
Irish farmers are declaring war on low prices offered by processing plants for the cattle meat and warns about Mercosur deal completed recently by the European Commission. Joe Healy, president of the Irish Farmers' Association mentioned during the protest held at the EU Food & Veterinary Offices that Brexit has stirred enough uncertainties for the sector and the deal agreed with the Mercosur bloc poses a real danger for the beef industry in Europe.
"Beef is being produced in Brazil using substances and practices which are illegal in the EU. This is ‘unfair competition’ and it is damaging cattle prices and farm incomes, not only in Ireland but across the EU. In 2017, the EU Commission- Food and Veterinary Office (FVO), based here, in Co. Meath, issued a report highlighting that the Brazilian competent authority was not able to guarantee that the relevant EU requirements are being met. The report states that previous ‘written guarantees’ given by the Brazilian authorities to the EU were ‘not reliable’. In 2018, 270,000 tonnes of substandard beef imports come into the EU market at an average rate of 22,500 per month and this has continued in 2019,” declared Healy.
To support his position, Joe Healy mentioned the following:
Brazilian cattle are not tagged or identified and there is no traceability;
Hormones, beta agonists and other growth promoters are widely available. These products are all illegal and banned in the EU;
Brazil is burning the equivalent size of one football pitch of rainforest every minute, to expand beef production;
Brazil has endemic Foot and Mouth Disease, which is a constant risk.
IFA is demanding from the European officials to place an immediate ban on all substandard South American beef imports; a fund to compensate farmers who supplied cattle post-May 12th 2019 and are currently losing €4m per week on beef prices; €1bn Brexit fund of market supports and direct aid for farmers; and a campaign to promote the EU beef as environmentally sustainable.
Angus Woods, IFA Livestock Chairman said, “Commissioner Hogan has consistently said the Commission has the tools to address market disturbance. Brexit is already causing huge uncertainty and currency volatility. The Commission needs to bring forward the €1bn fund now, to provide strong market supports and direct aid for farmers”.
In other parts of the country, farmers have rallied at the gates of 14 processing units, angry for the prices offered, according to Farmers Journal. Irish cattle prices have dropped by almost 20c/kg in July and are behind the EU average. On the other hand, processors are starting to feel the impact of protest movements, recent reports indicating that throughput in the factories has fallen by 25%.
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