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ICSA: not enough time for actual discussion in beef forum

Jul 28, 2016 | General News, ICSA in the Media | 0 comments

FARMER’S JOURNAL – 22 JULY 2016

  • The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) protesting outside the European Commission offices in May 2016 due to the potential sell-out of the EU beef farming sector in Mercosur and TTIP talks.
    The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) protesting outside the European Commission offices in May 2016 due to the potential sell-out of the EU beef farming sector in Mercosur and TTIP talks.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has criticised the amount of time given over to presentations from state agencies at Thursday’s Beef Forum. 

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) president has raised concerns around the allocation of time given over to a discussion of the issues affecting farmers at the Beef Forum.

The forum, which took place in the National Emergency Room of Government Buildings between 10am and 1pm on Thursday 21 July, was dominated by presentations from Bord Bia, the Irish Cattle and Breeding Federation (ICBF) and the Department of Agriculture.

Kent said it would be more efficient to have the presentations circulated in advance.

“It would be more efficient to circulate those presentations in advance so that more time was left for a discussion of the issues in the presentations and the issues affecting farmers right now,” he told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“As it is, the presentations are taking up too much time.”

Kent added that the time allocated to presentations is a legacy left over from the days when Simon Coveney was minister, “but unfortunately the trend has continued under the new minister Michael Creed”.

There is a concerted effort by meat factories to over-exaggerate the impact of Brexit

The ICSA raised a range of issues at yesterday’s forum, including the 30-month age limit for prime cattle, which, it says, is a relic of the BSE era.

Like Joe Healy, the Irish Farmers Association president, Kent also raised the issue of the “concerted effort by meat factories to over-exaggerate” the impact of Brexit.

“In some cases, it was suggested that the sterling devaluation was 16%. This makes our beef exports to the UK more expensive and affects beef farmers’ incomes,” he said.

Trade deals post-Brexit

The ICSA president also raised the issue of European trade deals with other political blocs, such as Mercosur and TTIP, in the wake of Brexit.

“The fact the UK is leaving the EU means that any assessment carried out on the impact a trade deal like Mercosur would have on European agriculture needs to be reassessed in light of the fact that there will only be 27 member states as opposed to 28,” Kent said.

If beef is included in a Mercosur trade deal and if TTIP goes ahead we could be looking at a flooding of the EU market with cheaper beef, with no UK to mop up some of this influx

An impact assessment of Mercosur on European agriculture is due from the European Commission later this year.

“The UK imports 434,000t per year and is a net importer of almost 300,000t. Total beef consumption in the UK is 1.184m t. If beef is included in a Mercosur trade deal and if TTIP goes ahead, we could be looking at a flooding of the EU market with cheaper beef, with no UK to mop up some of this influx.”

Kent said there is also the danger that the UK will negotiate its own trade agreement with the Mercosur bloc, leading to even more beef coming into Europe.

“This is a real danger and needs to be addressed by any impact assessment,” Kent said.

This was the first beef forum of 2016 and the first under new minister for agriculture Michael Creed.

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