Farming organisations have said that the success of protected geographical indication (PGI) status for Irish Grass Fed Beef will judged on its ability to bring price benefits for farmers.

Both the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) have stated that price moves after the PGI’s details are announced will be how farmers will judge it.

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham maintains that there is no excuse for Irish beef prices to lag behind EU prices once the standard is introduced, which is expected to be in mid-December.

Lower price

He reiterated that Irish beef farmers receive a lower price than many of their EU counterparts, despite already participating in Bord Bia’s sustainable beef and lamb assurance scheme (SBLAS).

“In recent weeks, we have seen a negative differential of over 30c/kg between Irish and EU prices, which is a sorry reflection on our ability to market our beef and to deliver a dividend for the efforts by so many farmers in participating in the SBLAS quality assurance programme.

“The PGI status is delivering substantial premium bonuses to all sorts of EU products and it is now essential that we see this reflected in our beef offerings to EU outlets.”

Beef cut reversal

The ICSA said it expects the PGI status will be used as a tool to reverse beef price cuts.

“The proof will be in the pudding in terms of price paid to farmers,” Graham added, saying that a monitoring group must be established immediately to ensure farmers have decision-making power in how the standard is used.

“This PGI status is not the property of any one meat processor. The whole point of [a] PGI is to recognise and monetise the work and unique specialisation of the primary producer based on tradition or geographical region.”

Promotion now needed

ICMSA president Pat McCormack stated that the success of the PGI can only be “gauged by the higher returns it delivers to the farmers producing the beef”.

McCormack is seeking a campaign highlighting this recognition of the uniqueness of Irish beef early next year.

“Our cattle spend most of their life at grass and eating a grass-based diet delivers a unique high-quality beef product,” said McCormack.

“It’s essential that we push that application through to a successful conclusion that delivers that PGI status and then springboard off this with a significant promotional campaign for Irish beef in early 2024,” he said.

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