Scotch Beef Threat from Mercosur Deal

NFU Scotland has cranked up its opposition to ongoing trade talks between Europe and the South American treading bloc, Mercosur, after an impact assessment revealed the scale of damage the deal could wreak on Scotland’s crucial beef sector.

NFU Scotland’s President, Nigel Miller and Chief Executive Scott Walker will be in Brussels this week (Thursday 1 December and Friday 2 December).   They will use the visit to raise a number of issues with Commission officials, fellow farming Unions and MEPs, including the threat posed by a Mercosur deal.

The next round of talks between Europe and Mercosur – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay - are due in March 2012 and Europe anticipates a final agreement being made by July 2012 at the EU-Latin America-Caribbean summit in Chile.  However, the publication of the impact assessment clearly highlights the threat to beef production if significant changes to the proposals are not secured.

NFU Scotland Livestock Policy Manager, Penny Johnston said:

“Grassland-based beef production, which is the cornerstone of Scottish agriculture, must not be the pawn that is sacrificed to secure a bilateral trade deal with the Mercosur bloc in 2012.

“This impact assessment confirms what NFUS already suspected.  Food producers in the EU would suffer a fall in returns because of the deal and beef would bear the brunt as a consequence of a significant uplift in beef imports from that area.

“Not only could we see production hit but revenues from beef production could also fall.  If that were to happen it would be a travesty and risk undermining the current fragile stability we see in our beef herd and the improved returns we are enjoying from the marketplace for Scotch beef.

“We appreciate that there is growing political desire across Europe to see a trading deal struck with Mercosur.  But the reality, as outlined by this assessment, is that such a deal would jeopardise Scotland and the EU’s ability to produce food, as well as undermine our hard-earned food security.  The Commission must appreciate that is too high a price to pay.”

Notes to Editors

  • The impact assessment looking at the implications of the trade deal corresponding to the Mercosur request suggests EU agricultural producers could lose as much as 7.75 billion EUR, or a 3.21% drop in revenue.  In combination with a deal on DOHA, it could see an additional 524,000 tonnes of beef imports from South America.  
  • The study states: “It is clear that on a per capita basis the losses to EU agricultural producers far outweigh the gains to those accruing in EU manufacturing or to EU food consumers."
  • The different scenarios propose a range of possibilities for the fall in beef production, beef revenue and farm incomes.  For Scotland, the fall in beef production could be as much as 9 percent in the worst case scenario with a reduction in returns exceeding 20 percent in some regions of the EU.
  • A copy of the impact assessment, carried out by the EU’s Joint Research Centre can be found at:


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006


Date Published:

News Article No.: 189/11

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