UK farmers call on EU to postpone beef talks with Mercosur
Next Monday (23 April), all European farming unions and associations will meet to discuss issues of vital importance to the beef sector.This will include the on-going negotiations between the Commission and the Mercosur Latin American nations – Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.UK farmers have frequently blasted the trade talks between the EU and Mercosur, who say that the South American countries do not come close to matching the food safety, animal welfare or environmental standards which farmers comply with in the UK and across Europe.NFU Scotland will join those calling for the negotiations to be dropped until there is further clarity on the impact of Brexit on the beef trade.
The union hopes for cast-iron guarantees on production standards to be given.A recent report by the European Commission cast doubt on the ability of Brazilian authorities to ensure that exported meat products meet European Union requirements.European farmers have also cited previous criminal activity in Brazil as demonstrating the weaknesses in food production regulation in the region.‘Blindly negotiate’Speaking ahead of the trip to Brussels, NFU Scotland Livestock Committee Chairman Charlie Adam and a beef producer from Aberdeenshire, said the Brexit negotiations are already causing “great uncertainty” over the future stability of the market for food produced the UK and Europe.“The actions of the Commission in continuing to blindly negotiate with the Mercosur trading bloc is extremely concerning,” Mr Adam said.“Not only has the European Commission continued to negotiate but reports have also stated that the Commission has increased the tariff free beef quota being offered to the South American industry to seal any deal.”
Mr Adam said the actions by the EU has been “reckless and damaging”. He said British farmers produce to high traceability, environmental and sanitary standards.“It’s essential that the Commission and European member states protect our standards by keeping our borders closed to South American produce that isn’t covered by our comprehensive regulations and where there is no guarantee our standards can be met,” Mr Adam added.“That is an approach we believe our consumers wholly endorse. The message must be clear in Brussels and London that our most important market will continue to be those in our neighbouring countries and that the best way to protect our standards post-Brexit is through close trade links such as a customs union.”