Calls made to ban Brazilian meat imports, amid scandal

The Northern Irish farming industry has demanded that Brazilian meat imports be banned completely. 

This comes after J&F Investimentos – the holding company for leading meatpacker JBS – has found itself at the centre of a corruption scandal. The firm must now pay the equivalent of £2.4 billion, as reported on Meat Trades Journal’s sister site,

Ulster Farmers’ Union president Barclay Bell has labelled the corruption as damning and has called on the EU Commission to remove agriculture from the Mercosur negotiations.

“The situation in Brazil continues to deteriorate as more reports emerge about the huge level of corruption in their meat industry and government,” said Bell. “The magnitude of this scandal is shocking and I can see no credible way for the EU Commission to continue to include agriculture in the Mercosur trade talks.

“The Commission must also take action by immediately banning all Brazilian meat imports to the EU.”

In the mid-90s, the EU Commission banned all UK beef exports amid the BSE crisis, out of fear for public health. However, Bell said the Commission’s approach to the Brazilian saga was more lax. “The Brazilian meat scandal is a public health issue,” he argued. “The Commission has been slow to act and I would question why they have not approached this situation with the same urgency as BSE. It is unacceptable and immediate action must be taken.”

Moving forward, as the next government will be tasked with negotiating a Brexit deal, the Ulster Farmers’ Union has said the events in Brazil must be taken into consideration when it comes to trade talks. Bell added: “Politicians must ensure that food standards are upheld, and that cheap, low-quality imports are not permitted to undermine our industry. Countries wishing to trade with us must demonstrate they can meet the high standards expected by UK consumers. It is also essential that the government treats beef and lamb as sensitive products within trade negotiations. To do otherwise would only serve to decimate these already vulnerable sectors.”

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