Concerns for Scottish beef producers over Mercosur deal

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland highlighted the dangers that a flawed trade deal with South American countries could have of the country’s beef industry. 

Speaking at a meeting of farming and agriculture co-operatives body Copa-Cogeca in Brussels, on Wednesday 27 April, NFU Scotland’s livestock committee chairman, Charlie Adam, said that concerns were increasing over a new trade deal with Latin American bloc Mercosur, which could include beef and have damaging impacts on Scottish producers.

“There is a real concern amongst farmers that a flood of cheap imports could have disastrous effect on farming livelihoods – not just in Scotland but across the EU,” explained Adam.

“The EU has conducted an impact assessment on all trade deals currently on the table, but they have not compiled a detailed report on what could happen if a deal with the major livestock-producing nations in the Mercosur trading bloc goes through.”

The Mercosur region consists of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Associate countries are Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname.

Brazil’s prepared investment into the agriculture sector has already been highlighted by Copa. For 2015/2016, Brazil’s agricultural budget came in at a reported €47 billion, around 20% more than the last budget. Furthermore, NFU Scotland reported that the Brazilian Minister for Agriculture has decided to invest €68.5bn in the livestock sector over the next five years to increase economic value by €208bn.

“Agriculture must not be used as a bargaining chip to throw on the table during discussion,” continued Adam. “We have thousands of farming families across Scotland and the rest of the UK who are reliant on a stable market.

“With the potential for significant price disruption being driven by cheap imports, that would come as a bitter blow at a time when Scottish beef prices are already considerably lower than recent years.

“The level of support provided to producers through Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy has also been reduced and that comes at a time when assistance to the cattle sector in a key beef-producing nation like Brazil has been significantly boosted.”

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