All imports of Brazilian beef to European markets must be halted amid fears over low standards, Conservative and Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has warned.
Of 12 Brazilian farms inspected by the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office for its latest report, six were found not to have met the standards required by the EU, he said.
The MEP said it was unbelievable that the European Commission should refer to what he described as a lack of tagging, incorrect paperwork and non-existent movement controls as ‘minor deficiencies’, pointing out that any Northern Ireland farmer who operated in such a way would be called to court immediately and face serious consequences.
His remarks came as the Commission updated MEPs on Brazilian beef imports following the FVO’s latest inspection trip to the South American country.
Farmers in Northern Ireland have been warning for a number of years that they are unable to compete on a level playing field with their counterparts outside the EU as they are expected to meet much higher production and animal welfare standards.
The FVO first reported its concerns in 2005 that serious problems existed over traceability and identification of individual cattle in Brazil’s beef production industry.
“The EU Food and Veterinary Office’s latest report is a damning indictment of the situation in Brazil. Of the 12 farms visited, six were found not to meet the standards required by the European Union,” Mr Nicholson said.
“That means 50% of animals are not tagged properly, paper work is totally wrong — traceability and movement controls are virtually non-existent.”
He added: “If this situation happened anywhere in the European Union, farmers would be called to court immediately and would face serious consequences.
“It is unbelievable that the Commission has the audacity to call these major infringements ‘minor deficiencies’.
“What more evidence do they need?”