National Farmers Union Scotland will be in Brussels next week to add its voice to those calling for the European Commission to postpone negotiations with the South America’s Mercosur trading bloc.
Next Monday, all the European farming unions and associations will meet to discuss issues of vital importance to the beef sector, particularly the ongoing negotiations between the Commission and the Mercosur nations – Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
NFUS will join those calling for the negotiations to be dropped, until there is further clarity on the impact of Brexit on the beef trade and cast-iron guarantees on production standards can be given.
A recent report by the European Commission cast doubt on the ability of Brazilian authorities to ensure that exported meat products meet European Union requirements. European farmers have also cited previous criminal activity in Brazil as demonstrating the weaknesses in food production regulation in the region.
Speaking ahead of the trip, NFUS livestock committee chairman, Charlie Adam, a beef producer from Aberdeenshire, said: “With Brexit negotiations ongoing, we are already facing great uncertainty over the future stability of the market for food produced in Scotland, the UK and Europe. The actions of the Commission in continuing to blindly negotiate with the Mercosur trading bloc is extremely concerning.
“Not only has the European Commission continued to negotiate but reports have also stated that the Commission has increased the tariff free beef quota being offered to the South American industry to seal any deal. That is both reckless and damaging,” he said.
“Scottish farmers and crofters produce to high traceability, environmental and sanitary standards. It’s essential that the Commission and European member states protect our standards by keeping our borders closed to South American produce that isn’t covered by our comprehensive regulations and where there is no guarantee our standards can be met. That is an approach we believe our consumers wholly endorse.
“The message must be clear in Brussels and London that our most important market will continue to be those in our neighbouring countries and that the best way to protect our standards post-Brexit is through close trade links such as a customs union,” stressed Mr Adam.
“Markets and standards will only be secured if the European Commission and the UK Government pursue positive trade deals which support rather than undermine livestock businesses in Scotland and across the continent.”