The grass-fed PGI will be “one more thing” that processors will use to penalise farmers, Independent TD Michael McNamara has warned.
McNamara believed the PGI should be registered and owned by producers, rather than promotion bodies or processors.
They give power to processors rather than producers
“The whole PGI mechanism, be it in Ireland, Italy or any other country in Europe, is about a product. It gives control to producers. I am not surprised that it is happening this way in Ireland because it is the way that the Department and Bord Bia work,” he said.
“They give power to processors rather than producers.”
Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday, the Clare TD said a nationwide PGI was good in theory but similar schemes “have worked not to the benefit of producers but solely to the benefit of processors”.
“They are all being used to hammer prices,” he stated.
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for Agriculture Matt Carthy also questioned why Bord Bia was leading the application as opposed to a producer body.
It is important that it is done in a co-ordinated way
In response, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue stressed that his Department would work with state agencies and all in the sector to get the best possible return for farmers.
He believed there was merit in the proposed PGI application.
“It is important that it is done in a co-ordinated way and properly marketed and driven. Effort and resources must be put into this PGI, once it is hopefully agreed in partnership, to ensure it is properly marketed abroad, connects to the consumer and delivers the greatest possible return.”
McNamara reiterated his belief that PGIs had to be built around producer groups, as a nationwide PGI “will be held hostage by processors who completely control the Irish beef industry”.
Carthy said: “The crux of this is that the scheme is so broad that it will result in the few farmers who do not meet the standard suffering a penalty as opposed to everyone securing an increase in price.”
Minister McConalogue moved to assure the deputies that the objective of the PGI was to “improve the lot of farmers” and increase the volume and value of Irish beef sold abroad.
The draft PGI application will be the main item for discussion at an upcoming meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce on 23 September.
ICSA lodges opposition to grass-fed beef PGI application
INHFA lodges opposition to grass-fed beef PGI application