The Irish beef sector cannot be sacrificed amid growing concerns of a Canadian-EU beef imports trade deal, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has warned.

In a strongly-worded statement issued today, IFA President John Bryan said a Canadian-EU beef imports deal would inflict severe damage on the Irish and European livestock sector. 

“It is clear Canada is seeking access for a substantial volume of beef imports into the EU and there is no doubt the USA will be seeking a major increase in the volumes they already have on the valuable EU market.

“Agriculture and particularly our hugely important beef sector cannot be sacrificed in these negotiations.”

The IFA also warned of food safety issues to Canadian-EU beef imports.

“Europe cannot agree to any imports that fail to meet EU standards on the critical issues of food safety, traceability, environmental protection and animal welfare.”

He said European producers and consumers will not accept imports from production systems where the use of hormones in beef, BST growth promoters in milk and the beta-agonist drug ractopamine in cattle and pigs – all banned in Europe – is common practice.

The IFA President said in view of the high sensitivity of the EU market for beef to imports, the EU must rule out any significant increase in imports in this sensitive product area.

Bryan also cited a recent study by Professor Alan Renwick from University College Dublin. It showed the €2.3bn output at farm gate level creates total output of €5.7bn, and that the cattle and sheep sectors support 100,000 farmers and more than 50,000 jobs in the wider economy.

In conclusion he said any increase in beef imports into the European Union will have very damaging economic, environmental and social consequences across rural communities in Ireland and Western Europe that depend on livestock production for their livelihoods.

The G8 Summit in Fermanagh later this month is set to discuss the matter in detail, while the IFA plan to continue its vocal opposition.

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