Northern Minister approves application for ‘nomad’ cattle to be labelled as ‘Irish’

‘Nomad’ cattle can now be labelled as ‘Irish’, the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill announced.

The Minister has approved an application under the voluntary labelling scheme as a first step in addressing the anomaly of ‘nomad’ cattle in the north. However, the labelling is subject to EU approval.

Currently beef imported from the south and slaughtered in the north cannot be labelled with a single country of origin. The Minister’s decision will allow for a local beef processor to use the term ‘Irish’ for cattle imported from the south and finished in the north and therefore hopefully open new markets for local processors.

Minister O’Neill said: “I am of the strong view that the term ‘nomad cattle’ has no place on this island and following discussions with industry stakeholders and Minister Coveney in the south, I am hopeful that this issue can be resolved.

“This has been a problem for some time because cattle imported from the south and slaughtered in the north cannot be labelled with a single country of origin. Beef from these animals has a lower market value than cattle which are born, reared and slaughtered here, due to the reluctance of retailers to source dual origin cattle.”

The Minister added: “The ability to label beef derived from such cattle as “Irish” will hopefully open new market opportunities with British retailers for local processors. It should also assist the long standing tradition of trading cattle across the island of Ireland, particularly store cattle coming from the west of Ireland for finishing and slaughter in the north.”

Consumers will still be fully informed about the origin of the beef they are buying as beef from such cattle must be labelled with compulsory origin information under EU law. Store cattle imported from the south for finishing and slaughter in the north will be labelled ‘Born in Ireland; Reared in Ireland/UK; Slaughtered in UK’. Beef from finished cattle imported for immediate slaughter must be labelled ‘Born in Ireland; Reared in Ireland; Slaughtered in UK’.

Both categories of beef can now carry the label ‘Irish’ as a voluntary term.

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