EU parliament votes for US beef deal

EU parliament votes for US beef deal

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The deal that sees the US get 35,000t of the EU's annual 45,000t quota of grain-fed beef imports comes into effect in January.

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IT was September 2018 when the European Commission (executive arm of EU) first announced its intention to open negotiations on the redistribution of quota for hormone-free beef imported into European countries in an attempt to heal a long-running trade dispute with the United States.

But "opening negotiations" was really just a polite way of the EC saying this is what is going to happen.

The EU was under pressure from President Donald Trump's steel and aluminium tariffs and urgently needed some form of appeasement.

Their solution was to give the US a country-specific allocation of almost 80 per cent or 35,000 tonnes of the bloc's annual 45,000t quota high-quality grain-fed beef.

Little matter that the rights of other countries such as Australia, Argentina, Uruguay and New Zealand, who have shared the quota under WTO rules since 2009, would be brushed aside in the process.

The EC's determination and intransigence was clear when secretary general of the European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV) Jean-Luc Mériaux said at the time that these countries would either have to accept a lower level of trade or lose it altogether.

By June 2019, Australia and the others had acquiesced and the deal was formally announced.

The US share would be 40pc or 18,500t initially and gradually increase over the ensuing six years to the nominated 35,000t figure.

But for China's growing emergence as an alternative and less troublesome market for this high-priced product, Australia may not have been so willing to give up its rights.

Now, Australia and the others would seem destined to continue to compete for the unallocated balance of the 45,000t quota on the same problematic first-come-first-served basis until the amount to be shared represents no more than 10,000t.

How practical a proposition that is remains to be seen.

In the meantime, EU enthusiasm to see the deal come into effect in January saw the 28-nation parliament bring forward its vote so that individual EU governments can rubber stamp it before end of December.

It was passed on a vote of 457-140 with 71 abstentions and accompanied by a resolution urging the removal of US tariffs on EU steel and aluminium and the withdrawal of Trump's threat to raise tariffs on EU cars.

Tide turning against anti-meat bias in public broadcasting

THERE was a time when Australia's public broadcaster mimicked its cultural forebear in Britain even to the extent of the accent required in its announcers and presenters.

While the accent here is now unmistakably Australian, the two organisations still appear to have something in common.

Both seem to possess a waddy that they feel obliged to pull out from time to time to whack away at the agricultural sector as though it were a black snake.

This often takes the form of a new environmental or climate related documentary and the ire that it raises from the rural sector stems from what they claim is biased reporting, lack of balance, relevance, scientific rigour and complicity with the more extreme side of animal activism and veganism.

For a long time it seemed the rural sector did not know how to respond to these programs and their lack of voice gave clear air to the views and claims being portrayed.

But that seems to be changing.

In the UK, there is a coming-together happening which is raising the volume of the rural voice and bringing their claims of lack of fair dealing into the spotlight.

Such was the case last week when BBC1 aired in prime time its much publicised hour-long documentary Meat: A Threat to Our Planet?

Presenter Liz Bonnin suggested intensive livestock production practices in the US and Amazon rainforest depletion in Brazil were reasons why UK consumers shouldn't eat meat.

There was little attempt to portray the positive environmental performance of UK beef production and statistical comparisons quoted on ruminant GHG emissions attracted dissent.

Reaction was swift and on-message.

All elements of the UK meat-supply chain challenged the documentary.

The English, Scottish and Welsh levy boards focused on the potential of the program to mislead UK consumers.

Trade bodies challenged the program's claim that meat production has a greater environmental impact than transport.

Farming groups pointed out that UK grass-based production systems can actually protect the environment and help mitigate the world's impact on the climate.

Meat processors decried the program as a one-sided headline-grabbing attempt to push a particular agenda.

In all, it was a rare example of the meat industry in the UK coming together to speak out in defence of their industry.

So much in fact that it was the reaction rather than documentary itself that became the centre of attention.

Not unexpectedly the BBC defended its show but the very fact that it was forced to publicly answer claims of bias, distortion, lack of balance etc is significant.

It gives hope to those who feel wronged that the tide may have reached full ebb and is on the turn.

Kill well covered to the end of the year

WITH supply pretty well covered through to the end of the year, any late run of export type cattle into saleyards will likely face a difficult market due to some major players not being in a position to absorb any significant numbers.

Southern and central Queensland grid prices adjusted down by 10c on one published grid on Monday taking 4-tooth ox to 580c and heavy cow to 480c but not all operators are quoting at present.

One contact said bookings were already being taken for the New Year and added that in the absence of any useful rain in the weeks ahead, those first weeks back could be expected to fill quickly.

Traders and feeders previously active in the lighter, plainer end of the cows also seem to have taken a step back.

Prices at Toowoomba on Monday were generally 15-28c cheaper with some very light, poor conditioned types averaging just 53c.

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