Time to wake up to Mercosur threat – UFU

Ulster Farmers' Union president, Barclay Bell
Ulster Farmers' Union president, Barclay Bell

Ulster Farmers’ Union president, Barclay Bell, says UK politicians and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) need to wake up to the threat of the Mercosur trade negotiations on European food safety, animal welfare and the environment.

He made the comments in the wake of reports that the European Commission is set to increase its beef quota offer to the Mercosur states.

There has been much focus of late on calls made by UK politicians and NGOs to increase environmental and animal welfare regulations in the UK, post Brexit. However, these politicians and NGOs are nowhere to be seen nor heard in the debate around the serious threat posed by the Mercosur trade negotiations.

Barclay Bell, UFU president

“There has been much focus of late on calls made by UK politicians and NGOs to increase environmental and animal welfare regulations in the UK, post Brexit. However, these politicians and NGOs are nowhere to be seen nor heard in the debate around the serious threat posed by the Mercosur trade negotiations,” said the UFU president.

South American countries do not come close to matching the food safety, animal welfare or environmental standards which farmers comply with in the UK and across Europe.

Mr Bell says it is scandalous that the European Commission is prepared to offer Mercosur increased concessions to export substandard agricultural products such as beef into the EU.

“Farmers in the UK comply with world leading standards and this is what UK consumers expect. So, it seems completely hypocritical for UK politicians and NGOs to want to keep raising the bar for UK farmers but yet accept much lower standards for inferior products exported from South America to the EU and which can ultimately end up in the UK,” said Mr Bell.

“Politicians and NGOs urgently need to re-focus their priorities and wake up to the threat the Mercosur trade negotiations pose. We want to see fair and balanced trade arrangements.

“There is no question that food exported to the UK, should be produced to the exact same standards as food produced in the UK. To do otherwise will only undermine UK food production, food security and exacerbate the risk of environmental degradation in regions such as South America,” concluded the UFU president.