Ulster Farmers’ Union, president, Barclay Bell says the European Commission’s response to the Brazilian meat scandal does not go far enough.
He says tougher action is needed to protect European farmers and consumers.
Commenting after the EU health commissioner met farm ministers and MEPs this week, the UFU president said: “This remains a major concern for farmers here and across Europe. It is deeply concerning that Brazil, a major meat exporting nation, has companies being investigated over meat treated with uncertified chemicals. This meat has gone to both home and export markets. I am alarmed by allegations that these companies bribed Brazilian government officials to secure hygiene certificates.”
Mr Bell says that while the actions of the Brazilian police in investigating this scandal are welcome, the UFU is concerned the European Commission was unaware of events in Brazil. It says that as a result Brussels was slow to block potentially contaminated meat.
“The Commission has banned imports from the meat plants involved and checks on all Brazilian imports have increased. These actions do not go far enough. What we need is a blanket ban on all Brazilian meat,” says Mr Bell, adding that this is not the first time Brazil has been at the centre of investigations around its traceability and hygiene standards.
The UFU says it is unacceptable that Brazil, or any other country exporting food to Europe, believes it can get away with shipping products that do not comply with the standards met by European farmers – and which European consumers expect.
“The Commission must send a stronger message to Brazil and others by withdrawing from the Mercosur trade discussions. These have lost all credibility in the wake of the Brazilian meat scandal,” said the UFU president.