A convoy of around a dozen tractors will travel through Brussels on Monday, in a protest organised by Fugea. They will leave from Hainaut. They want to draw European official’s attention to the difficulties farmers face and the risk a Free Trade Agreement with South America would pose to cattle farming. Fugea’s protest will take place during a European Agriculture Minister’s meeting.
For months and even years, Belgian and Walloon farmers have been saying the low prices they are paid for their products makes it difficult for them. This week, dairy producers on the European Milk Board issued a warning: the European Union has kept nearly 380,000 tonnes of powdered milk stored since the end of 2015, which threatens milk prices.
Now Fugea wants to draw attention to the potentially negative consequences a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Mercosur (South American Common Market) would have on meat prices. “This agreement would kill off thousands of farms in Europe”, says the United Farmer’s Federation. They said South American countries had big ambitions to export beef to Europe.
“The European Commission ordered a study on the impact of a potential agreement between the EU and Mercosur. It said bovine farmers would lose a minimum of 4.6 billion euros if the agreement went ahead”, says Fugea. They also said “meat imported from Mercosur countries is not produced under the same sanitary conditions as our meat and the process does not respect the same environmental and animal welfare conditions”.
Fugea’s protest to get the attention of European Ministers and Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan is planned for 11am on Monday at the Schuman roundabout in Brussels.