The EU has been branded hypocritical after pursuing a trade deal for South American beef when attempting to push its ‘green agenda.’
The union has come under fire from businesses, ecologists and consumers, after it was revealed talks have begun to import an additional 99,000 tonnes if beef from South America.
The Latin American trade bloc Mercosur, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, is currently in talks with a trade agreement with the EU.
But UK farmers have blasted the talks, who say that the South American countries do not come close to matching the food safety, animal welfare or environmental standards which farmers comply with in the UK and across Europe.
They fear that the big increase in the amount offered by the EU from Mercosur countries with lower welfare standards could put their their livelihoods at stake.
Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president, Barclay Bell, says that an attempt by the EU to increase their offer on beef to 99,000t in the EU-Mercosur trade talks is “completely unacceptable”.
He said such an agreement would have a “devastating impact” on European beef production and warned that the UK beef industry is also at threat.
“The EU Commission has already conceded far too much to the South American bloc,” Mr Bell explained.
“There seems to be no regard for the impact on food safety standards or the economic impact on European farms. These countries have no interest in adopting European traceability standards.
“They do not comply with EU animal welfare standards and Brazil in particular has not dealt appropriately with a huge food fraud incident involving rotten meat.”
“Beef production has a crucial role to play economically, environmentally, and socially in the UK and right across Europe. Accepting imports from countries that do not comply with equivalent food production standards is nothing short of irresponsible,” the UFU president said.