IFA President Tim Cullinan said that Bord Bia’s proposal on a new ‘grass-fed standard’ and their proposed criteria for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for ‘Irish Grass-Fed Beef’ needs a lot more thought and discussion before they are proceeded with.
“Ireland is well recognised on the international market for being a grass-fed country. This Bord Bia proposal is complicated and it runs the risk of devaluing and excluding some Irish beef that may not meet the technical specifications,” he said.
“I’d like to see clear market research carried out by Bord Bia to show that putting these criteria in place will give a higher price return to farmers,” he said.
“The issue of the grass-fed standard came up at the Bord Bia board meeting yesterday. I made it clear that it needed far more clarity and discussion before Bord Bia can proceed,” he said.
“It runs the risk of creating more bureaucracy for farmers and it is unclear who will be the final arbiter on whether or not an animal qualifies,” he said.
“It is wrong that all bulls are being deemed ineligible for the grass-fed standard even if they can meet the criteria. There needs to be more clarity on how the criteria are being applied and calculated,” he said.
“Bull beef is the most efficient production system for many farmers. Some factories have been discouraging it, but we need a full debate on this before Bord Bia ends up to ghettoising bull beef,” he said.
“We also need a fundamental debate on the benefits of the PGI status and what categories of beef this should be applied for,” he said.
IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said neither the National Livestock Committee nor our National Council has had a chance to discuss this as we did not have the full details. More time is needed to properly consult farmers, examine all the detail and discuss it in full,” he said.
“Beef farmers are crying out for clear direction on beef marketing and branding, that will deliver a viable price return. Exploiting our grass-fed image more could be of real value, but farmers experience to date is that complying with standards has being used negatively rather than positively in terms of a higher beef price. We need to get this right and farmers need to be centrally involved,” he said.