NFU President Peter Kendall has called on the EU Commission urgently
to consider banning imports of beef from Brazil, in the light of
further reports of serious breaches in cattle identification regulations
in a country where foot and mouth disease is endemic.
About 80% of all cattle in Brazil are based on
tropics-friendly Nelore (zebu-type) genetics.
Speaking at the Herefordshire NFU annual meeting in Hereford tonight,
Tuesday, Mr Kendall said: "Livestock farmers across Britain
have just endured four months of misery as we have complied with
the strictest animal movement and biosecurity regime imaginable,
at a cost of tens of millions of pounds, in order to satisfy the
EU veterinary authorities that our beef, lamb and pork can safely
be allowed back into international trade.
"Had our precautions, and in particular our arrangements
for tracking and verifying the movement of livestock, been found
wanting in the slightest particular, it would have set back the
timetable for the lifting of trade restrictions by months.
"Yet now we understand a very different set of rules applies
to our main competitors, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean,
in Brazil. In previous inspections, the EU's Food and Veterinary
Organisation (FVO) has found serious shortcomings in the arrangements
in the Brazilian cattle traceability and other record-keeping arrangements.
"Last year, an investigation by the Irish Farmers Associations
found evidence of deliberate malpractice, which suggested that
cattle from regions of Brazil where foot and mouth disease is endemic
and from which exports are supposed to be banned, were being illegally
re-tagged in order to disguise their identity and origin.
"Now we understand that the most recent FVO inspection has
identified breaches of animal ID requirements so serious that,
according to unconfirmed but entirely plausible reports, the Brazilians
have offered to restrict exports themselves in the hope of pre-empting
more drastic action by the EU.
"This is not an acceptable situation. The same strict standards
should be applied to the traceability of meat imported into the
EU as apply to meat produced in the EU, in the interests of consumer
protection, disease prevention and fair trade.
"We shall be calling on the EU Commission to act on the findings
of the latest FVO inspection without delay and impose an immediate
ban on imports from Brazilian beef until the Brazilian authorities
have satisfied EU officials that they are fully compliant with
"That is what has been expected of livestock producers in
this country as the price for our meat being allowed back into
international trade, and I can see no reason at all why a similar
level of compliance should not be expected of our competitors."
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