The Ulster Farmers’ Union has said that the European Union’s beef trade agreement with Canada is a positive step, but has warned that more must be done by the government in London to secure access to all export markets.
Earlier this week the Canadian government announced it was re-opening its market for imports of European beef from 19 EU member states, including the United Kingdom and Ireland.
UFU deputy president, Ivor Ferguson said: “At a time when beef producers are facing difficulties across Europe, this is certainly welcome news.” The Canadian market has been closed to the EU since 1996.
“While it is unlikely that we will see UK beef going to Canada in the short term, this decision gives us hope that the North American market can develop in the future,” said Mr Ferguson, adding that it also sends an important signal to others about re-opening their markets to EU beef.
“The UK market will undoubtedly remain our most valuable market, but as we have seen over the last couple of years volatility has made it difficult for producers to secure a stable income from our biggest market,” Mr Ferguson said, adding that the government must recognise the damage caused by volatility. “Part of the solution is speedier, red tape free, access to new export markets. We need to be able to react quickly to opportunities. At the minute we are not seeing enough action from DEFRA in London and it is crucial our local MPs hold them to account on this matter,” added Mr Ferguson.
The announcement has also been welcomed by EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Andriukaitis, Trade Commissioner Malmström and Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.