Beef alliance pushes for world trade reform

December 21 2021 - 5:00am
Beef alliance pushes for world trade reform

CATTLE producer organisations from big beef-producing nations are pushing for swifter World Trade Organisation reform, saying it will strengthen international food security and promote agricultural sustainability.

Members of the International Beef Alliance, which includes peak bodies from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay and the United States, issued a statement after holding an annual conference via webinar this month.

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Together, farmers and ranchers in these countries provide 47 per cent of global beef production and account for 66pc of all beef exports.

The statement said IBA members were concerned that consensus had not been found for WTO reform and urged all WTO members to work swiftly towards a resolution.

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"Global beef trade relies on trade standards that support the free flow of products between countries, and a functioning WTO is imperative to this goal," the statement said.

"In this regard, IBA members remain concerned that there are barriers to trade that are not based on internationally recognised scientific standards and we urge all countries to review standards that impact trade and ensure that they are consistent with international obligations and are based on rigorous science."

While 2021 had presented significant challenges to global beef supplies due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and associated shipping disruption, producers had demonstrated considerable resilience, acting quickly to adapt to the COVID-19 environment and ensure continuity of trade and the steady supply of beef to consumers, the statement also said.

"Consumers have also responded in that we have seen a significant shift back to beef due to its naturalness, providence, safety, and the unique nutritional attributes that are well evidenced contribute to health and wellness," it said.

"The production and export of beef provides global consumers with greater access to safe and nutritious food while improving the livelihood of cattle producers. For rural areas there is a significant contribution for the economy and maintenance and evolution as a community, besides providing jobs directly and indirectly, also contributing with elements to mitigate climate change."

IBA members meet monthly to discuss challenges and opportunities, including supply chain disruption, production and sustainability goals.

The organisation listed as a key achievement during 2021 the role it played in the lead-up to high profile global forums, championing the case that all conversations on food systems should be driven by robust science.

In the case of the United Nations Food Systems Summit, IBA members advocated for the importance of sustainable beef production and the role international trade has in providing nutrition and food security to countries, to meet consumer needs around the world.

The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), held in Glasgow, was another prominent forum for beef producers, with governments from around the world coming together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, the IBA statement said.

"These international forums highlight how global climate change policy continues to evolve and the importance for IBA members to contribute to the sustainability conversation in a transparent manner and science and technology-based approach," it said.

"The IBA maintains that there is a need for a better understanding of the contribution of the agriculture sector to managing and mitigating overall agricultural emissions, carbon capture and balance and in particular, recognising the unique differences of biogenic methane emissions compared to those originating from fossil fuel sources."

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