The Department of Agriculture has published the final cattle and carcase specifications for the new Irish Grass Fed Beef protected geographical indication (PGI) on the announcement that the standard has been registered and will come into force on 20 December.

Grass must make up at least 90% of eligible cattle’s diets between grazing and hay or silage, with the requirement that a minimum of 220 days/year must be spent at grass over the animal’s lifetime.

Under-36-month steers and heifers with conformations higher than O- and fat scores in the range of 2+ to 4+ will be included under the PGI.

So too will suckler cows up to 10 years of age with conformations better than O+ and with fat scores between 2+ and 5.

Adding value

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue welcomed the conclusion of four years of work to get the standard officially recognised and through all stages of approval, claiming that it will add value to Irish beef overseas.

“It has been some time since this application process was first initiated in 2019, when my Department brought together stakeholders and State agencies, following which it was agreed that Bord Bia would draft the application on behalf of producers and processors,” the Minister commented.

“I’m particularly delighted that this will apply on an all-island basis and include farmers both here and in Northern Island also,” he said, stating that the PGI is a “great example of the close co-operation on agriculture” between departments north and south.

“This cross-border PGI status is occurring at an important time in our trading relationship since Brexit,” Minister McConalogue added.

Spring campaign

Bord Bia’s chief executive Jim O’Toole welcomed approval of Irish Grass Fed Beef to join the “illustrious club” of existing PGIs.

“Today’s official announcement is positive news for the Irish beef sector and is warmly welcomed by Bord Bia,” O’Toole said.

“From spring 2024, we plan to embark on a marketing campaign to promote the PGI for Irish Grass Fed Beef to key customers in European markets.”

The Bord Bia chief stated that the initial focus of this campaign will be to raise awareness of the PGI among trade customers, with this to shift to consumers once product comes on stream.

“PGI status is widely recognised in continental markets and Bord Bia will leverage this opportunity for the benefit of Irish beef farmers and the wider beef sector,” he added.

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