The next application for protected geographical indication (PGI) status for Irish grass-fed beef will cover both Ireland and Northern Ireland, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has confirmed.
Last week, the Irish Farmers Journal reported that a deal was close to being agreed for a PGI application which would cover the island of Ireland.
On Monday evening, the Minister announced that consultations between the Department of Agriculture and Bord Bia with their Northern Ireland and UK counterparts had successfully concluded in the all-Ireland PGI application.
“I have always been committed to extending the PGI application on an all-island basis,” Minister McConalogue said.
“I have discussed this issue with my counterpart Minister Edwin Poots on a number of occasions, as recently as this afternoon [Monday]."
He added that the European Commission will now be notified of the agreement. He said he hopes that the remaining steps can be progressed quickly, so that the process for registration may be finalised by the European Commission as soon as possible.
“I want the PGI for Irish grass-fed beef to be of real benefit to the suckler and beef farmers on the island as a reward for their hard work, commitment and dedication to producing a world-class beef product. I am excited to see the process come to a conclusion as soon as possible.”
Minister Poots said that he strongly supports the inclusion of Northern Ireland’s grass-fed beef being included in this application.
"I am hopeful that the modified application will be successful and producers in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic will benefit from deserved recognition of the quality, characteristics and reputation of their beef.”
Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president David Brown said: “Our members made it very clear from the outset that they wanted to be part of the Irish grass-fed beef PGI.
"We worked with government and industry to secure Northern Ireland’s (NI) inclusion so that the benefits are enjoyed across the island of Ireland by all beef farmers.
"This will help ensure that our NI beef farmers remain on a level playing field with those in the Republic of Ireland and can receive a fair economical return for the high-quality product they produce.
"We welcome the PGI’s recognition and protection of the credentials and quality of our grass-fed beef which is widely known in the marketplace.”
Interim Bord Bia CEO Michael Murphy said: “Bord Bia initiated this PGI application because it presents a significant opportunity to add value for Irish beef exports to key markets based on a well-established reputation of excellent quality based on our unique pasture-based production system.
“We are now progressing our approach to the implementation of the PGI for Irish grass-fed beef in our European markets, pending the successful completion of the application process.
"Together with our farmers, exporters and customers, we want to ensure that the PGI can be implemented to grow consumers’ recognition of the unique characteristics and reputation of Irish grass-fed beef as a protected European regional product.”
As a result of the change to the geographical area, a further publication and consultation period at EU/third country level will be required.