Brazil hits back
The Brazilian beef industry has accused UK and Irish farming associations of resorting to “misinformation and bullying” to “impose themselves on the global market".
In a statement issued to meatinfo.co.uk, the Association of Brazilian Beef Exporters (ABIEC) dismissed attacks on Brazilian beef as a rejection of global "evolution". It said Irish and English farmers were trying to “justify their lack of ability" by casting aspersions on those "who have overcome hurdles and moved forwards”.
ABIEC’s executive director Otávio Hermont Cançado said that Irish Farmers Association (IFA) president Padraig Walshe is “typical of those who defend an industry no longer capable of growing in the global market; and who arrogantly and immorally try to justify the adoption of knowingly mistaken policies”.
Cançado accused the UK and Ireland of holding on to “absurd” subsidies and tariffs that entail "huge distortions in global trade”. He said it was striking to see countries and representative organisations approach global trade "as if they were still in primary school, kicking and screaming to attract attention and achieve their objectives”.
Cançado said that Irish and English farmers should stop worrying about the Brazilian production chain and concentrate on finding ways to improve the health and competitiveness of their own herds.
He warned that the new global economic order will sooner or later require require "changes in behaviour".
“The public treasures of the European Union are already showing signs of fatigue in supporting sectors that are notoriously incapable of meeting the fierce competition of the international market in commodities such as beef,” he said.
“Brazil’s path has already been mapped out by the competence, maturity and competitiveness of its producers and its processing industries. It now remains to be seen how long the ‘Irish child’ will take before it matures and becomes a competitor up to our standards.”
The statement in full:
The breathtaking speed with which the world is changing every day has entailed inexorable changes for Man. From economics to medicine, societies have evolved, in particular owing to the information technology revolution. In many cases we may be disturbed by the speed at which our neighbours are growing, but fighting against this evolution is the sign, at the very least, of an obtuse view among those who, in order to justify their lack of ability to achieve such changes themselves, prefer to cast aspersions on those who have overcome hurdles and moved forward.
The insistence of Irish and English cattle farmers on attacking the quality of Brazilian beef is an example that, although the global market is changing every day, some types of rhetoric still survive, despite being outdated and time-worn.
The recent speech of the President of the “Irish Farmers Association”, Mr Padraig Walshe, indicated the time lag typical of those who are least prepared or who have a lower level of competitive excellence. Of those who defend an industry no longer capable of growing in the global market; and who arrogantly and immorally try to justify the adoption of knowingly mistaken policies.
Sitting on generous subsidies that completely distort the global market, farmers from these two countries have watched time pass without themselves being able to achieve high-quality competitive output unless their Governments earmark a large portion of community treasures to support them. Such subsidies, widely used in past decades, still exist in the competitive global economy, where, however, free competition is the path to follow.
Unfortunately, groups holding out against this not-so-recent reality still insist on playing this unfair game, resorting to misinformation and bullying in order to impose themselves on the global market and preserve a subsidised stability to the detriment of competitive modernity; but this is actually a disservice to European citizens, daily bombarded with a false reality.
A series of entrepreneurial and government-level meetings have been held in recent years to put an end to the practices of subsidies and absurd protectionism, precisely because they entail huge distortions in global trade. But little has been done by the countries that adopt such tools.
With no indication that countries like Ireland and England are intending to suspend the grants handed out to their cattle farmers, Brazil and other developing nations have invested substantially in research and technology in order to sell to markets which, thanks to globalisation, have become increasingly demanding.
Brazil has the climate and landscape to produce high-quality, competitive beef. Even without a government treasury to support its livestock industry, the country has managed to enter over 180 markets. All access to markets acquired over the last 10 years has been legitimate, achieved without the use of any tool or artifice that could unfairly affect competing countries.
The Brazilian government has never withheld information from foreign competent bodies. From the OIE to DG Sanco, all authorities were notified of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak that occurred in October 2005 in the States of Mato Grosso do Sul and Parana.
Every measure taken to isolate the virus and move the herd from that region of the country to a disease-free health status was immediately communicated to the countries to which Brazil sells its beef.
On the other hand, Ireland has a very unfavourable track record, especially when it comes to mad cow disease, which not only afflicts bovines but also harms the consumers of contaminated beef.
Since 2001, that country has registered over 1,100 cases of the disease, according to the OIE. Additionally, there were 23 cases of this disease in 2008, numbers which, though lower than figures posted for previous years, show that the country still has a lot to do to meet the controls laid down by the European Community, considering the multiple flaws previously pointed out by the FVO inspection reports in the country.
As regards Foot-and-Mouth Disease, the latest records of the disease in the United Kingdom date from 2007, when in August there was an outbreak notified in the county of Surrey and, in December 2007, this and four other outbreaks were quickly and inexplicably solved, as were multiple records of contamination of European livestock with dioxin.
It is, therefore, striking how there are still countries, or representative organisations, that approach global trade as if they were still in primary school, kicking and screaming to attract attention and achieve their objectives.
Let us be clear: this is what Mr Walshe seems to us to be doing, in an act typical of a rural producer “spoiled” by the State, accusing, protesting and despairing against something that is nothing but pure economic rationality.
Quite simply, instead of wasting their precious time worrying about the Brazilian beef production chain, Irish and English producers should find a way to improve the health of their own herds and put forward ideas to eliminate the generous subsidies granted to them, as this money would certainly be better used in other sectors of the societies to which they belong.
Indeed, it would be much more beneficial if they simply stopped believing that the economic irrationality of subsidies will prevail, and that absurd government grants will be eternally available. After all, if Irish producers are not competitive today, and have been dislodged from the global marketplace, there certainly is a reason for that.
What we cannot accept is that the bad should prosper, while the good are punished. The “suffering” highlighted in Mr Walshe’s recent comments conveys, in our view, his lack of commitment to Irish rural producers and his alienation from the new global economic order, which will sooner or later require changes in behaviour, since the public treasures of the European Union are already showing signs of fatigue in supporting sectors that are notoriously incapable of meeting the fierce competition of the international market in commodities such as beef.
With the expansion of the European Union and the increasing scarcity of resources for these activities, it is to be expected that such funding migrates to the new member-states of the block with more fragile social and economic conditions than those who have already benefited from the policy of this subsidised members-only club.
Finally, Brazil’s path has already been mapped out by the competence, maturity and competitiveness of its producers and its processing industries. It now remains to be seen how long the “Irish child” will take before it matures and becomes a competitor up to our standards.
*Otávio Hermont Cançado
Association of Brazilian Beef Exporters (ABIEC)