Scottish beef producers warn against Mercosur deal

Representatives from the Scottish beef industry have spoken out against a possible trade deal with the South American trading bloc Mercosur.

The European Commission is currently in discussions with the region, made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, that would allow Mercosur to freely import as much as 70,000 to 90,000 tonnes of beef per year into the European market.

However, there are concerns that South American beef is not up to the same standards as domestic beef, following recent scandals emerging from the region. Subsequently, it could damage the Scottish market and put homegrown producers at a disadvantage.

To curb the mitigating impacts, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland has briefed local MEPs about the risks the deal could pose on the country’s beef should trade deals be poorly negotiated.

“The idea that the European Commission would consider allowing greater access to South American beef, following the ‘rotten meat’ scandal that rocked Brazil earlier this year, is absurd, particularly after the recent European Union food safety audit, which found that Brazilian authorities could not guarantee export requirements,” commented NFU Scotland livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam, also a beef farmer in Aberdeenshire.

“Beef farmers in Scotland and across the continent are currently facing great uncertainty over the impact that Brexit may have on the market for our beef.”

The Union warned that the European Commission must not use its high standards of food safety and high-quality standards as a “bargaining chip” to push through a trade deal.

Earlier this year, Meat Trades Journal’s sister site, GlobalMeatNews, reported that 33 government officials had been sacked, and three slaughterhouses closed in Brazil after claims that rotten meat had been sold, despite Brazil’s Association of Animal Protection labelling the allegations as “false”.

Farm bodies from other European countries, including France and Ireland, have voiced concerns against a potential deal.

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