IFA to hold protest calling for ban of ‘substandard’ beef imports

Members of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) will stage a protest today, Wednesday, July 31, in Co. Meath to call for the ban of “substandard” beef imports.

Members of the association’s National Council and Livestock Committee will descend upon the EU Food and Veterinary Office in Grange, Co. Meath, which works to maintain the control systems for EU imports, and to ensure they’re compliant with EU standards.

The IFA says it is aiming to highlight the “urgent need” to support the beef sector, both in Ireland and around Europe.

This is an unprecedented, EU-wide crisis directly related to Brexit.

Speaking ahead of the demonstration, IFA president, Joe Healy, said: “The solutions to this EU-wide beef crisis must come from Brussels and the Irish Government. The first move must be to stop substandard imports, which are undermining the EU beef market.

“In 2017, the European Commission, Food and Veterinary Office based here in Co. Meath issued a report highlighting that the Brazilian competent authority was not able to guarantee that the relevant export requirements [of beef] are met,” he continued.

“Given this, we are calling for an immediate ban on this product into Europe. Irish beef farmers are struggling and the EU must back us, not Brazil,” the IFA president argued.

‘The Taoiseach needs to get on the pitch’

Speaking to AgriLand last week at the launch of the IFA submission for Budget 2020, Healy said the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, needed “to get on the pitch” to oppose the proposals contained in the EU-Mercosur trade agreement that deal with beef.

“If we were producing beef along the lines that they are producing it in Brazil, we wouldn’t be able to sell any of it in any European market – and they were allowed to send in 269,000t last year, which will increase over the coming years,” he highlighted.

“What we need here is a level playing field. From a European point of view, it’s a sell out of European farmers. It’s hypocrisy at the highest level,” Healy argued.