The labelling of animal feed was one of the topics discussed when the NI Grain Trade Association met MEPs Jim Allister and Jim Nicholson. The NIGTA delegation was accompanied by Judith Nelson, Head of Feed Sector, Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) , which is NIGTA’s affiliated organisation in GB.

The delegation commented on various aspects of the draft report from Mr Graefe zu Baringdorf the Raporteur for the EU Agriculture Committee. One aspect which is causing a lot of concern is the requirements for labelling animal feed. The information being requested is not only an infringement of each company’s intellectual property but it would also hinder research and development by the industry,

Judith Nelson told the MEPS “The patents approval process does not require this information and it would not be possible to progress a patent application if this information had to be disclosed”

The clear de-markation between pre-mixes and complementary feeds is necessary as the current proposal could mean that home mixers and farmers buying a pre-mix would have to be HACCP trained thus adding more cost and red tape to their business.

The GM approvals system and the zero tolerance on new GM varieties will cost the food industry and the consumer dearly according to the NIGTA delegation. They pointed out that while food scarcity is the hot topic at the moment the EU is ignoring the fact that its stance on these matters is likely to decimate parts of the food industry within Europe. The GM approvals process for maize had already cost NI farmers £50 million but if it is applied to soya imports then it would be disastrous for the intensive sectors. A zero tolerance on unapproved GM varieties means that shippers will not bring the material to Europe as they cannot afford to take the risk. Yet consumers are already eating imported food where the animals have been fed on these varieties.

It is ironic that the EU may follow the same pattern regarding plant protection products. The current proposals could remove 15% of products and this would mean serious losses in cereals and potato yields.

Both MEPs were supportive of NIGTA’s requests and questioned the delegation closely on the details of their presentation. They also indicated areas where they could lend their support to try and help to sustain a vibrant agri food industry.