Concern for beef industry as EU-US trade deal discussions continue

Wednesday, 27 November, 2013

Ulster Farmers’ Union Beef and Lamb Chairman Robert Davidson has called on the EU Commission to ensure that the EU beef industry is not sacrificed in favour of other trade opportunities during the EU-US trade discussions, saying it could spell disaster for Northern Ireland’s beef industry. The comments were made after Mr. Davidson attended the COPA and EU Commission beef advisory meetings in Brussels last week where the main focus was around the EU-Canada and EU-US trade deals.

Robert Davidson continued; “The ink is already dry on the EU-Canada trade deal but at the time we warned about the dangers of using our beef industry as a bargaining chip. Unfortunately, our calls fell on deaf ears and Canada was granted significant access to our beef market which is already causing beef farmers to worry.

“The US talks are currently underway and our beef industry cannot afford to have the market flooded with US beef. Already a trade imbalance exists between the EU and US and as negotiations get underway we are heading into dangerous territory with US officials estimating their beef export potential will increase substantially. Ultimately, the EU Commission must ensure that our beef farmers are not placed at a competitive disadvantage. We want reassurance that any beef imports from the US will be expected to meet the high level of production standards, traceability, and food safety demanded by EU consumers. Commission officials must realise that these are farmers’ livelihoods they are playing with. Agriculture is a vital part of the EU economy and it should be protected rather than carved up in favour of other trade opportunities.

“Also, we cannot forget that an EU-Mercosur deal could be on the horizon. Talks have stalled but they are likely to resume again in the near future which makes the precedent set by the EU-Canada deal and ongoing EU-US negotiations all the more worrying.”