Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has hit out at authorities in the Republic of Ireland for pressing ahead with protected geographical indicator (PGI) status for Irish grass-fed beef that excludes Northern Ireland (NI).

With the European Commission expected to adjudicate on the Irish application in the coming weeks, the assurance given to farmers in NI is that they can join at a later date once they have an audit system in place to verify that cattle are grass-fed.

However, Minister Poots believes the delay was unnecessary.

“Unfortunately, the Republic of Ireland Government decided to charge ahead without NI, in spite of the fact that we were ready to go. They used a fairly puerile excuse for not doing it together,” he said during a Ministerial statement in the Stormont Assembly chamber on Tuesday.

He also revealed his intention to develop a British PGI for beef “so that we can genuinely achieve the best of both worlds”.

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