IFA: “Europe cannot agree to imports which fail to meet EU standards”

With the commencement of the EU-US trade talks this week; IFA President John Bryan said these trade negotiations cannot damage our important agricultural sector and especially our beef and livestock sector.

The IFA president said: “A deal involving a substantial increase in beef imports from the US would inflict severe damage on the Irish livestock sector.”

Bryan said a recent IFA study of the importance of the cattle and sheep sectors to the Irish economy by Professor Alan Renwick from UCD shows that the €2.3bn output at farm-gate level creates total economic output of €5.7bn. In addition, the Irish cattle and sheep sectors support 100,000 farmers and over 50,000 jobs in the wider economy.

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

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.

John Bryan 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.