Pork Imports Must Meet EU Standards

by 5m Editor
26 July 2011, at 11:28am

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - An influential report on the pig sector in Europe, published last week by RaboBank has highlighted the challenges which must be overcome to allow the sector to prosper in Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says the report clearly indicates that there are opportunities for the sector but only if the high quality of production in Northern Ireland is properly recognized in the supply chain and imports to the EU are only allowed if they meet the high standards required on local farms.

UFU Pork and Bacon Chairman Norman Brown said: "The report indicates that there will be winners and losers in the European pig industry over the next number of years. Global powers such as Russia and China could both help or hinder production in Europe depending on whether they choose to drive self sufficiency or import product to meet their demand. Europe is under threat from a potential Mercosur deal and it is vital that any imports to the EU meet the same strict welfare standards and legislation achieved by European producers."

"We face specific challenges in Northern Ireland with our higher feed costs and as part of the UK we operate to the highest welfare standards and environmental legislation in Europe, bringing with it significant cost to producers. The UK should be benefiting from the fact that our welfare legislation was introduced in 1999 while it is estimated that 60% of the EU are still to do so. Producers must also be free to improve their efficiencies in order to improve their competitiveness. Unfortunately IPPC legislation is restricting expansion and preventing efficiencies from being maximised. This must be addressed. The potential introduction of processed animal protein should reduce the dependency on vegetable protein and reduce our costs, but it is still important that there is a tolerance for GMO’s."

The UFU says that although there will be both opportunities and threats for the pig sector, the report indicates that net production will fall by 1.2 million tonnes.

Mr Brown added: "If Northern Ireland pig producers are to survive this drop, retailers and processors must be prepared to recognise and strongly market our local quality assured, high welfare standard product and accurate labelling plays an important role in this. Decision makers in Brussels must also rethink how they enforce legislation such as IPPC which is proving draconian and results in reduced competitiveness, whilst also ensuring imports meet EU standards."

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