Imports of Brazilian beef are set to resume, with Brussels granting licences to 106 cattle ranches which, it says, meet the EU’s tougher new controls on foot and mouth disease.

A temporary ban was put in place at the start of February, when the EU imposed new conditions on the traceability and residency periods for Brazilian cattle in foot and mouth free zones.

Approval

An initial list of 2681 farms was put forward for approval by the Brazilian authorities, but rejected by the commission. But a new list of around 200 farms is being assessed and 106 of these farms have now been approved.

“Deboned and matured meat derived from bovine animals originating in these holdings will be allowed for import,” said a commission statement.

Brazilian Beef Information Service director Rob Metcalfe described the decision as “a victory for the consumer and commonsense”. “As today’s decision demonstrates, Brazil’s beef producers are clearly able to meet EU standards. Many more will undoubtedly follow.”

Condemned

But news of the lifting of the ban has been condemned by farming unions.

Irish Farmers Association president Padraig Walshe said the move was “highly irresponsible” and he accused EU food safety commissioner Markos Kyprianou of “political expediency”.

Mr Walshe vowed to continue the IFA’s campaign for equivalent standards for all food producers, whether in Ireland or in importing countries.

Stunned and disgusted

Irish Cattle and Sheep Association president Malcolm Thompson said he was “stunned and disgusted” by the decision.

“ICSA has always maintained that nothing short of a full ban would ever be acceptable. We have proven that the Brazilians cannot be trusted,” he said.

But Euro-MP and chairman of the European parliament’s agriculture committee Neil Parish pointed out that, because the EU had allowed beef that was certified before 31 January to carry on enetering the EU in February, the ban had been pretty ineffective anyway.

“The so-called Brazilian beef ban was over before it had begun,” he said. “To start licensing again on the basis of some audit reports seems premature to me.”