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MERCOSUR OFFER OF 78,000 TON BEEF QUOTA REFLECTS COMPLETE CONFUSION IN EU AG POLICY

Apr 19, 2016 | Press Releases | 0 comments

15 April 2016

ICSA Munster vice-president John Halley has attacked the offer of 78,000 tons of beef quota to the Mercosur countries which would flood EU markets with very cheap beef. He said that the offer showed a complete collapse in coherent agricultural policy within the EU. “It is high time that the member states demanded that the rush to free trade in agriculture is reconsidered and that the viability of the EU farm sector is given necessary priority. The current scenario where all EU farm sectors are in crisis at a time when outrageous concessions are being offered on beef demonstrates that EU policies are in a state of complete confusion.” 

“The idea that free and unfettered trade can co-exist with the huge economic and structural disparities which exist between Europe and other beef producing regions is insane. Moreover, the EU is a contradiction if its fundamental promise of access to a market of 500 million people is rendered meaningless by allowing very favourable access to competitors from South America or elsewhere.”

“What use is access to EU beef markets for Irish farmers when it comes with excessive red tape and ever higher standards which impose extra costs, if at the same time, low cost, lightly regulated South American beef comes in at zero or low tariffs to undermine the viability of our beef?

Mr Halley said that the ever increasing zeal of part of the EU Commission to sacrifice European beef farmers on the altar of trade expediency needs to be rowed back at European Council level. “The latest move involving an offer of a tariff rate quota of 78,000 tons of beef imports to the Mercosur trading block, at an ultra-low tariff of 7.5% should set alarm bells ringing. 

We need a fundamental re-think of where agricultural policy in Europe is going. High cost countries such as Norway have the cop-on to realise that their farmers cannot survive in their own high cost economy by permitting imports from cheaper regions without tariffs to balance things up. While the EU economy is different to the Norwegian one, it is also radically different to South America.”

“Hence, we cannot expect farmers in Europe to compete on EU markets if the playing fields are chalk and cheese. Apart from the much higher burden of regulation and standards imposed on EU farmers, there are immense differences in wage costs, land costs and feed costs between the EU and South America.  It is just nonsense to contemplate allowing any South American beef into Europe without a reasonable tariff to reflect the difference, unless the intention is to outsource all beef demand. The question that must be answered is where did the EU trade commissioner get her mandate to close down Irish beef production from?” 

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