EU visit confirms Brazil’s failings – but still no ban

Farm leaders and MEPs have stepped up their calls for an import ban on Brazilian beef, following a new report on animal health controls by the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office.

The report stems from an inspection visit to Brazil carried out in March of this year.

Its conclusions include:

  • No systematic audit system for animal health has been established
  • There is no programme to monitor the efficacy of foot-and-mouth vaccination in 2007
  • The system to determine that animals have been resident in a F&M-free region for 90 days before export – an EU requirement – is unreliable
  • There is either no, or inadequate, training of state vets
  • Meat from an animal which was not eligible for export has been exported to the EU
  •  Some official vets are not familiar with the traceability system

While noting that there has been “good progress” in some areas, overall the report contains 25 separate recommendations for improvement and says that a number of concerns identified in 2006 have still not been addressed.

Ulster Farmers’ Union president Kenneth Sharkey said that, given that Brazil was clearly operating at lesser standards than EU farmers, beef imports should be banned.

“Foot-and-mouth disease is ongoing in Brazil and the country’s traceability system is well below the standard which local farmers must by law comply with. None of these circumstances would be tolerated in Northern Ireland.”

Tory MEP Neil Parish said the report would make sombre reading for the EU Commission, which has been resisting calls for a ban on Brazilian beef imports.

“European vets are not just finding small faults with Brazil’s safeguards. The fact they are still putting forward three pages of recommendations goes to confirm the Brazilians are not addressing deficiencies with the urgency we demand.”

But an EU Commission spokesman insisted Brussels was putting maximum pressure on Brazil and a follow-up inspection visit was under way this month. “We wrote to the Brazilian authorities in April with a list of weaknesses to address, and formally warned them that, if they were not addressed, we would have to reconsider their authorisations to export beef by the end of the year.”

The spokesman added that any action taken by the commission would be “proportionate” and would not necessarily mean a full ban.

Brazilian farmers examing beef cattle<

Foot-and-mouth disease continues to challenge the authorities in Brazil.

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