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Dublin: 18 °C Wednesday 27 May, 2020
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Irish farmers ask European Commission to suspend imports of beef from outside Europe

Some 318,000 tonnes of beef was imported from outside of Europe last year.

Image: Eamonn Farrell

THE IRISH FARMERS’ Association has written to the Government and European Commission asking that all imports of beef from outside Europe be halted to support farmers in European countries. 

The submission details a number of measures to protect the livelihoods of Irish farmers as the Covid-19 pandemic is navigated across European countries. 

“The EU must be mindful of the importance of the agriculture and food sector in providing food security to EU citizens in the current crisis,” it said. 

“While some more domestically-oriented markets have seen increased retail sales at least partially offset the losses, this is not the case for the mainly export-oriented Irish agri-food sector.”

According to the IFA, Ireland exports around 560,000 tonnes of beef annually, with around 45% of that exported to the UK, and the remainder to EU and international markets. 

The beef sector has taken a hit as a result of the closure of restaurant and food establishments, although this has been somewhat offset by supermarket sales which have increased. 

Among the measures being called for by farmers are European subsidies for farmers, and a pan-European promotional package to encourage sales of EU beef products. 

Farmers also want a ban on all beef imports from outside of Europe – these amounted to some 318,000 tonnes of beef being imported from outside of Europe last year. 

“The closure of the food service sector across Europe has hit Ireland disproportionately as we are an export country. While there has been an increase in retail sales across Europe, much of this is taken up by domestic suppliers who have surplus product due to food service closures in their country,” president of the IFA, Tim Cullinane said.

“We are facing massive challenges across all sectors, but the beef market is now in turmoil. We need significant measures urgently.”

A raft of measures for the dairy sector which will also be impacted by the slowdown in exports of Irish-produced dairy products have also been proposed. 

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has announced additional funding to support the Calf Investment Scheme, as well as allowing farmer marts to reopen to facilitate the trade of stock while public auctions are suspended. 

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