The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it is extremely alarmed at suggestions that the European Commission could include beef in the Mercosur deal.
The comments come after the Commission is reported to have offered the Mercosur states of South America a 70,000 tonnes tariff rate quota for beef.
The UFU president Barclay Bell said: “The reported proposals, that the European Commission are considering including beef in the Mercosur deal, is a very unwelcome distraction from the ongoing Brexit negotiations. Finding constructive solutions to the challenges that Brexit presents should be the priority for both the UK government and the European Union.
“But despite this, reports continue to circulate that the Commission is going to offer a substantial beef quota to a trading bloc that cannot meet European production standards.
“Farmers in Northern Ireland and across Europe continue to produce beef that complies with leading standards for traceability, food safety, animal health and the environment. Yet the Commission appears determined to undermine all of this by making a trade proposal that would decimate European beef production.”
Mr Bell added: “The Mercosur states are already supplying up 75 percent of the third country beef imports to an EU market, which has seen falling meat consumption over the last decade. Offering Mercosur greater access would be a fatal mistake and is something which our elected representatives must oppose.”