Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue is being urged to “exert maximum pressure” at EU level to avoid a potential ban on non-frozen meat exports to the UK in the new year.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said that it is “very worried” at the difficulty in exporting certain meat products to the UK that would be presented by this ban.

This morning (Tuesday, November 24), RTÉ reported that a “potential two-way ban” on non-frozen processed meat products going between Ireland and the UK could be in place when the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement expires on January 1.

Such a move would result in a ban on products such as mince, sausages and prepared meals going between the two countries.

Speaking today after this development emerged, Edmund Graham, the ICSA’s beef chairperson, explained: “The problem is a Brexit related issue because from January 1, 2021, the UK will be impacted by its decision to leave the EU.

“Accordingly, a pre-existing EU regulation which restricts the import of meat preparations, including minced meat and sausages…could have major ramifications for our exports,” he added.

The problem is that the UK is likely to impose the same rule in return. That impacts us big time. Key markets such as supermarkets do not usually want frozen product.

“We could, in theory, get around it by exporting sides of beef and doing the additional processing in the UK but it adds a lot of risk,” Graham noted.

He concluded: “ICSA is calling on the minister to exert maximum pressure at EU level to get a solution to this problem as soon as possible. It is very unfortunate that this issue is only coming to light at this late stage.”

‘Obviously it is concerning’

Speaking earlier, Minister McConalogue said: “This is an issue that has been ongoing over the last number of weeks and is something that my own department had been working with the European Commission officials to discuss and tease out further.

Obviously it is something which is concerning. It is a reflection of the many issues which Brexit is causing.

He explained: “Up until recently, the UK had indicated that it wasn’t its intention to apply the same restrictions on food coming in to the UK as the EU apply in terms of imports into the EU.

“However, in recent weeks, the UK indicated that it will reciprocate the same requirements that the EU has for certifying imports. That obviously now raises a question mark over chilled and non-frozen processed meat exports to the UK,” Minister McConalogue said.