An American beef of "high quality" all relative in our plates

A cattle farm in Ault, Colorado, in November 2011.
A cattle farm in Ault, Colorado, November 2011. Rick Wilking / REUTERS

Some 35,000 tonnes. It is the amount of US beef that Brussels plans to import duty-free every year. Or a doubling of current volumes. MEPs will have to decide the issue of this additional quota of beef "made in USA", Thursday, November 28. The French breeders are strangling themselves, imagining this "offering" made to Donald Trump.

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The knife between their teeth, they denounce the leonin side of this trade agreement negotiated discreetly on both sides of the Atlantic. On administrative paper, imported meat is said to be of "high quality". "In fact, these American meats came from cattle that could be fed ruminant blood meal, pork meal and poultry litter"explains Bruno Dufayet, President of the National Beef Federation. Practices strictly prohibited in Europe, but widespread in the United States.

"In fact, these American meats came from cattle that could be fed ruminant blood meal, pork meal and poultry litter"

The only formal prohibition – if it can be controlled – is that it must not contain hormones. Indeed, the negotiations took place within the framework of the revision of an agreement called "Panel Hormones". To understand history, we must go back to 1984. Europe decides to abolish the use of hormones on its farms and the importation of meat containing them. Immediately, exporting countries, including the United States, Canada and Australia, are challenging this decision at the World Trade Organization.

"Absolute nonsense"

A test of strength that ends in 2009, with the grant, by Europe, of a quota of 45,000 tonnes of beef duty-free, every year. It is open to all exporters, with the rule of the game: first come, first served. The United States gives it approximately 17,000 tons a year. This time, in the new negotiation, the Americans got to take the lion's share. That's 35,000 tons.

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"While Trump taxes our wines, our cheeses and hurts our economy enormously, European leaders are increasing US beef import quotas, it's an absolute nonsense", denounces Eric Andrieu, European deputy PS in charge of agriculture. According to him, Europe, which had undertaken not to conclude any trade negotiations with the United States on the agricultural component, does not keep its word. And to wonder: what about the countries of South America and Australia reduced to the minimum? They will have arguments to put in the balance to get a broader opening of the European market. Everyone has in mind the ongoing negotiation of the Free Trade Agreement between Europe and the Mercosur countries (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay). The domino effect threatens the fragile balance of European cattle farmers.


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