Beef Farming (Brazil Memorandum of Understanding)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 10 March 2021.

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Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

4. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the United Kingdom Government regarding the potential impact on beef farming in Scotland of a memorandum of understanding with Brazil. (S5O-05101)

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I have previously written to the UK Government on that matter, expressing strong concerns about any increase in imported beef through the Mercosur free trade agreement.

I am aware that the UK Government struck an agreement with Brazil last October to establish a joint agriculture committee to look at sanitary standards. Unfortunately, the UK Government has not engaged with us, despite standards in Scotland being our responsibility.

It is our belief that significant quantities of imported South American beef could have a damaging effect on Scotland’s highly acclaimed beef production, potentially undermining our high regulatory standards and impacting on domestic trade. Fundamentally, I cannot and would not support any increased quota.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

Does the cabinet secretary agree that it is not simply a matter of sanitary standards and that the importation of hormone-treated beef from pastures in felled rainforest being shipped here to compete with our premium hormone-free Scotch beef is problematic on several levels, including that of climate change?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Yes. I have said time and again that we would not tolerate any trade deal that allowed imports of hormone-treated beef. The Trade and Agriculture Commission, who I met on Monday, recommend that any trading partners wishing to import into the United Kingdom shall demonstrate equivalent production standards. That assurance from Tim Smith, the chief executive, was welcome.

That should be implemented across all the UK’s trade deals, ultimately banning the import of hormone-treated meat.