Following today’s Beef Task force meeting, IFA President Tim Cullinan said that agreement had been reached to proceed with the application of PGI status for Irish Grass Fed Beef.
The PGI will now be run by a farmer-controlled monitoring committee. A letter requesting the EU Commission to include young bulls, if they meet the grass-fed criteria, will accompany the application.
The Department and Bord Bia have accepted that much more needs to be done to promote suckler beef. €6m in funding has now been committed over the next three years to develop a suckler-based brand under the control of a farmer board.
“It is clear that something substantial needs to be done to promote suckler beef as a specialised product. In addition to the funding of €6m which was agreed today, the importance of building on the existing schemes to support suckler production and underpin the development of the brand was acknowledged by the Minister and the Taskforce,” he said.
In relation to the PGI application, the IFA President said the changes secured from the original draft included the removal of references to travel times and flexibilities on the 220 days at grass. In addition, assessments for the meat and fat colour will only be carried out as part of the standard Bord Bia audit at factories and will not impact on the price paid to farmers for their grass-fed product.
Crucially, under the revised proposals farmers will have the majority on the monitoring and oversight groups for the PGI and the new suckler based brand.
The issue of the eligibility of cattle exported to Northern Ireland will also be dealt with in the covering letter with the application.
“We have been in regular contact with our colleagues in the UFU and it is important that we don’t create any unintended barriers to trade between Northern Ireland and ourselves,” he said.
“I want to thank Minister McConalogue, the Department and the Chairman of the Taskforce for their efforts in resolving these matters,” he said.
IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said, “This is a good outcome. The PGI will give us a chance to promote the world-renowned qualities of Irish beef while working on a brand for beef from suckler farms that promotes the quality, environmental and socio-economic benefits of this production system,” he said.
“We look forward to developing these brands to get increased returns for beef and suckler farmers,” he said.