Beef Plan calls for suspension of Polish meat imports amid ASF fears

The Beef Plan Movement has announced that it will call for the suspension of meat imports into Ireland from Poland, citing the biosecurity risks of African swine fever (ASF).

In a statement, the group said that “it identifies African swine fever (ASF) as posing a potential threat to our beef industry, with importation of beef from exposed countries”.

“Our worldwide reputation as suppliers and producers of premium quality beef is being placed under threat if ASF enters the Irish domain,” the statement added.

Dermot O’Brien, the Beef Plan Movement’s spokesperson, said that the group would be “demanding action” at the first meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce, which is understood to be scheduled for next Tuesday, December 3.

O’Brien said that Beef Plan would call for a suspension of Polish meat imports to Ireland until “a guarantee from the Polish ministry of agriculture is provided that ASF is no longer an issue in Poland”.

“We must bear in mind that new markets are opening in China and, in order to maintain and grow this potentially vast market, all Polish meat imports have to cease with immediate effect,” the Beef Plan spokesperson commented.

O’Brien continued: “ASF poses a biosecurity risk to our pig herd, but also poses a threat to our beef exports merely by association due to the biosecurity risk of ASF coming in to Ireland through Polish meat imports.

The beef farmers in Ireland have to be protected against any additional economic risk factors.  The risk is real and significant and ASF has to be kept out of Ireland, where in 2018 the beef industry delivered in the region of €2.8 billion to the Irish exchequer.

Back in early June, Poland’s chief veterinary officer announced that there had been an outbreak of ASF in a farm with some 8,000 pigs.

At the time, it was confirmed that four outbreaks of ASF had been found in Poland in 2019 up to that point.

According to figures from the Central Statistic Office (CSO), from January to September 2019, a total of 777t of fresh/chilled and frozen beef – to the value of €3 million – was imported from Poland to Ireland.

Responding to a question from Longford-Westmeath Labour TD Willie Penrose, Minister Michael Creed said: “I can also confirm that from January to December 2018, Ireland imported 1,251t of fresh/chilled and frozen beef to the value of €4.6 million from Poland.”