NFU representative re-elected at vital time for poultry

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Charles Bourns, a member of the National Farmers’ Union poultry board and chairman of the Copa-Cogeca Working Party on poultry and eggs has called for a quick solution for poultry farmers who have been affected by avian influenza.

He stated that a priority for him is to resolve the problem faced by free range producers who are expected to downgrade their eggs from free range to barn once they have been kept indoors for more than 12 weeks.

Voice of farming heard in EU court case

The NFU last week gave evidence at two trials in the European Court of Justice over the precautionary ban on three pesticide ingredients of the neonicotinoid family.

Pesticides that contain any of the three substances have been banned for use as seed treatments on some crops in the EU since 2013 over concerns that they have negative impacts on bee health.

However, Bayer and Syngenta – manufacturers of the substances – took the European Commission to court on the grounds that there is no appropriate scientific evidence for the ban and that studies that show a link to declines in bee health are not representative of realistic field use.

The NFU intervened in both cases providing evidence on the impact that not having access to these products has had on farm, particularly for oilseed rape production. The NFU believes that the consequences for farmers’ livelihoods in this debate must be heard by policymakers as the ban has affected production, planting decisions and does not constitute a fair, inclusive method of decision-making. A ruling is expected later this year.

US considers imposing tariffs on beef

US beef industry experts called for the introduction of tariffs on agriculture exports from the EU at a public hearing on trade last week.

The call is a response to the EU’s “unfair” ban on hormone-treated beef imports from the US in place since 1989. The US Trade Representative (USTR) argues against the science behind the ban and says that US beef exports to the EU have never recovered.

In 2009 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was established for the US to export up to 21,500t of hormone free beef. This was expanded in 2012 to 48,000t and also opened the quota to additional countries such as Australia and Uruguay.

This amendment has resulted in the US seeing its share of the quota fall from 98% to 36%. The US believes that it has not seen the benefits of the MoU and the levels of US beef imported into the EU is considerably less that it was prior to the ban on hormone fed beef. Discussions will continue over the coming weeks.