Farming bosses push for EU action

Leaders of the UK and Irish farming unions have met with EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou

to press him to take all necessary actions to avoid animal health in Europe being undermined by imports from countries with lower standards.

The five unions impressed on the commissioner that all meat imports entering the EU must meet the same standards as that produced within the EU. Evidence was produced from a clandestine visit to Brazil by Irish farming leaders last year that practices at farm level in Brazil fall short of what is acceptable to European consumers.

A joint statement issued by the five leaders said: "The threat of animal disease entering Britain and Ireland is one of great concern to our members.

"While some progress appears to have been made by the Brazilian government, many of the measures outlined in the Foreign and Veterinary Office mission report have yet to be implemented. For example, the lack of traceability, individual identification, appropriate veterinary records and the threat of importing foot and mouth disease. We reminded him that if there was any problem with animal or consumer health as a result of substandard imports it was his responsibility.

"The Commissioner acknowledged that there were some remaining problems, a lack of good communication and some considerable time gaps in verifying implementation of the FVO recommendations.

"He gave a commitment to improve communication and progress individual identification protocols within Brazil. He also stressed that if the next FVO mission found continued serious lack of implementation he would take immediate action.

"There is an unquestionable need to demonstrate that Europe takes animal health seriously and is prepared to take all necessary actions to safeguard it."

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