NFU warns on Latin American beef deal

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has warned that an EU deal with the Latin American trade bloc Mercosur would “seriously affect” beef production in Europe.

A study published by Copa, the umbrella organisation for farming unions across Europe, has revealed trade liberalising talks could see a significant contraction in the EU beef sector.

NFU livestock board chairman and vice-president of the Copa Beef Group Alistair Mackintosh has responded to the report by urging EU trade negotiators not to give any new concessions to the Mercosur bloc when they meet for round-table discussions in Brussels next week.

He said: “Farmers are rightly concerned about the possible impact on the market of this trade deal. The real concern is that we will export our industry abroad to countries that do not meet our high standards of production in terms of food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection.

“The Commission’s own Food and Veterinary Office inspection visits to Brazil have highlighted deficiencies in key areas such as traceability, disease control and the continuing use of growth promoters. UK farmers are producing to, and in many cases exceeding, high EU standards and any imports must also comply with the same standards. In addition, the EU is pushing the boundaries on poultry welfare and greenhouse gas emissions, yet these standards will not be met throughout the Mercosur bloc.

“The EU has a duty to insist that any additional market access it grants is done on the basis of meeting the same standards of welfare, environment and traceability that we currently meet. Until the Mercosur bloc meets our same standards, no concessions should be made.”

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