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EU-US trade deal poses serious threat to Irish and EU farming: TTIP could open the floodgates to factory-farmed US produce

28 Apr 2016

28 April 2016

The controversial trade deal being negotiated between the EU and the US could spell disaster for EU farming and particularly for the Irish beef sector, according to a new report from Friends of the Earth Europe.

The report Trading away EU farmers reviews modelling studies carried out in the EU and US on the impacts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The report concludes that TTIP will massively increase imports from the US, while having far fewer benefits for EU producers. Studies foresee a decline of up to 0.8% for EU agriculture’s contribution to gross domestic product, while US agriculture's contribution to it will increase by 1.9% - a net trade benefit to US interests of over 4 billion euros. [1]

This is predicted to result in many farmers across the EU facing stronger competition and lower prices, threatening farm businesses across Europe, as well as having negative impacts on rural areas and on consumer interests.

According to the report, the existence of whole EU farm sectors - such as grassland beef production – will be at risk from the agreement. [2] The US Department of Agriculture is predicting falls in the price paid to European farmers in every food category. [3]

Mute Schimpf, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said:

“TTIP will be a bad deal for European farming. The majority of EU farmers are predicted to lose out and with many of them already struggling to survive this could be the final knock-out blow. There is real concern that European farming is being sacrificed to get a TTIP deal at any costs. The main winners from the TTIP deal will be corporate food giants and US factory farms who already have bigger economies of scale and lower production costs. Any removal of EU restrictions will mean a huge increase in imports and could be the final nail in the coffin for some EU farming sectors.”

Commenting on the report’s analysis of TTIP’s impact on Irish agriculture, Friends of the Earth Ireland’s Chairperson, Dr. Cara Augustenborg, stated:

Member States led by Ireland and France have been pushing for the EU to conduct an impact assessment of TTIP on European agriculture. The Friends of the Earth Europe report is the first to examine that impact based on available models. The report confirms that TTIP will lower the value of most Irish agricultural products, particularly beef, because our farming systems cannot compete on price with the intensive, environmentally-damaging, factory-farming systems of the United States.

Dr. Augustenborg continued:

Irish farmers and consumers should be very concerned about TTIP. The Friends of the Earth Europe report highlights that both consumer and environmental protection across the EU may suffer as US government and producer organisations are openly calling for the EU to weaken protection in areas such as the approval of GM foods, pesticide safety rules, and the bans on hormones and pathogen washes in meat production. The quality of our food is superior to US products with respect to EU food production and safety standards. It’s critical to protect those standards and our agricultural enterprises from the potential damage that TTIP could inflict.”

The report says that corporate lobby groups, in both the US and Europe, are pushing for greater access to each other’s agricultural markets, with the US in particular targeting Europe’s generally higher safety and animal welfare standards. However, even if EU standards are maintained, increased imports from the US will still flood European markets, ensuring huge export opportunities and profits for food corporations and US factory farms at the expense of European farmers.

Notes:

[1, 3] Beckman, J., Arita, S., Mitchell, L., & Burfisher, M. (2015). Agriculture in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Tariffs, Tariff-Rate Quotas, and Non-Tariff Measures.

[2] All economic modelling studies predict that if EU tariffs are eliminated there will be significant increases in imports of US beef, of up to $3 billion. Traditional beef grazing farms, which produce high quality meat, are considered particularly vulnerable to imports of cheaper US beef.

[4] Three member states (France, Italy and the UK) accounted for 86% of Geographical Indications exports in 2010, with a very small number of products accounting for much of this trade: champagne, cognac, scotch whisky, Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano.

[5] Twenty Agriculture Ministers have recently raised concerns about the cumulative impact on EU agriculture of TTIP, the Mercosur agreement and the on-going Canadian trade deal (CETA), forcing the European Commission to conduct an impact assessment, due in September. The opposition is led by France and Ireland, but reportedly supported by AT, CY, EE, EL, HU, LV, LT, LU, PL, RO, SI, BE, SK, IT, FI, HR & BG http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-7629-2016-INIT/en/pdf

The report is online here: http://www.foeeurope.org/TTIP-trade-deal-poses-serious-threat-EU-farming

 

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