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EC: Export of Brazilian beef banned

The export of Brazilian beef to Europe has effectively been banned from today. It follows the European Commission’s rejection of some 2,500 potentially export-eligible Brazilian beef farms.

While it is essentially an animal health measure, the rejection of these farms will undoubtedly play a part in supporting the current upward trend in domestic prices for UK farmers.

The European Commission has told Brazil it will not accept a list of farms which the country claims do fully meet new EU rules on eligibility for export until they have been inspected. This week, Mariann Fischer Boel had told the annual general meeting of the Irish Farmers Association that just 300 farms would be eligible to supply Europe. But reports suggest Brazil actually submitted a list of closer to 2,500 farms, prompting the Commission to reject the entire list until it can carry out inspections – which it could begin at the end of February. The commercial impact of the decision is, however, limited because beef slaughtered under the old interpretation of the rules by Brussels can still be shipped to Europe until mid-March. However, Brazilian Beef Information Service director Rob Metcalfe said: “We are hoping that individual farms will receive EU approval in the next few days and that the list will gradually increase in number, particularly following the next EU inspectors' visit to Brazil in February. Brazilian beef currently in transit will continue to arrive in the EU but, obviously, there may be some reduction in supply in the next few weeks if there is a delay in farm approvals.”

Brazil has exported chilled and frozen beef to EU countries for over 75 years without any issues of health and safety. “There is a long beef trading relationship between Brazil and the EU, which will undoubtedly continue,” he added. “This is a pause – which may be very brief indeed – and not a ban.” Brazil is understood to have built stocks that will allow it to continue supplying key customers in Europe. Only after mid-March will it become clear whether trade can continue – and that depends on Brazil proving its claims the farms genuinely meet EU standards.

Fischer Boel is believed to have been privately critical of the time it was taking food safety commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, to act against Brazil. She said that if the present solution of tougher trace ability standards and residency periods for cattle on farms failed, the next logical step would be an outright ban. “Our food safety and animal health standards are non negotiable,” she told the meeting of Irish farmers. (Farmers Guardian)