Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has questioned the European Commissioner’s commitment to protect Irish poultry farmers and consumer interests amid arrogant Mercosur statements.
Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development said that while there has rightly been a focus on the importation of Brazilian beef products into Europe, a blind eye has been turned to poultry products to which equally concerning questions have been raised. Carthy spoke on the matter during the European Parliament’s plenary sitting in Strasbourg on Monday evening.
“In a letter from the Brazilian authorities received this week by MEPs sitting on the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, it has come to light that during 2016 a total of 184 international notifications were received concerning products of animal Brazilian origin. These irregularities were related to microbiological, physical and chemical standard violations among other irregularities but aredownplayed by the authorities.
“I find it extremely concerning that while we may have yet to discover the full extent of this scandal, no precautionary measures are being taken by the European Commission.
“Less than one week after the discovery of the cover up, the European Commission publicly repeated their intention to conclude a free trade agreement with the Mercosur block, which includes Brazil, “as soon as possible”.
“This is an insult to farmers and consumers alike who are now questioning in whose interests this deal is being negotiated.
“Last May Commissioner Hogan announced thatbeef was temporarily off the negotiating table in Mercosur talks. However no such promise or commitment was made in relation to protecting ourpoultry sector. Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of chicken, with its poultry exports to the EU far outweighing those of beef. Poultry is also the single largest category of meat consumed in Ireland, accounting for 37% of meat consumption.
“With the Irish poultry sector already facing uncertainties related to Brexit and dealing with the fall-out from the avian flu crisis, it is time for Commissioner Hogan to give these farmers the same level of protection as other areas. This sector supports over 6,000 Irish jobs, however its 70% reliance on British markets and threats from cheaper products from countries like Brazil put its survival in real jeopardy.
“On Monday during a debate in the European Parliament I reiterated my call for the European Commission to immediately suspend all meat imports from Brazil pending a full investigation of the extent of the scandal, and to indefinitely cease trade negotiations with the Mercosur trading block.
“The Irish government must now adopt the same position.”