Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has met with representatives from Copa-Cogeca - the EU wide body representing farmers and cooperatives - to discuss the impact of a potential trade deal with the Mercosur bloc of South American countries on the EU beef sector.
Mr Nicholson said: “Nearly a year has passed since the Brazilian meat scandal, which exposed allegations that companies in Brazil were selling unsafe produce including rotten meat. In April, the European Parliament Agriculture Committee will be sending a small delegation to Brazil to assess for ourselves whether things have actually improved.
“This is particularly important given the fact that the EU and the “Mercosur” bloc of South American countries, which includes Brazil, close in on a free trade agreement which could have serious repercussions for our beef sector.
“From a UK perspective, it is vital that we continue to pay close attention to these negotiations, as post-Brexit, the UK Government is likely to either replicate any deal, or seek to go even further.
“I was glad of the opportunity to discuss these issues with Copa-Cogeca, the EU-wide farm lobby, and we agree that serious questions still need to be asked of EU and Brazilian officials as to how this scandal was allowed to happen, how it can be prevented in future and how we can ensure substandard produce does not end up being imported into the EU.”
Mr Nicholson added: “I will continue to work closely with Copa-Cogeca and other industry stakeholders to ensure the beef sector locally and indeed across Europe is adequately supported and protected.”