2-hour travel radius in PGI grass-fed beef application ‘misinterpreted’ – Bord Bia

Following mounting controversy surrounding Bord Bia’s proposed application to the EU for protected geographic indication (PGI) status for Irish beef under a ‘grass-fed standard’, the food authority has moved to clarify certain points of the application.

Concerns had been raised – by farm organisations and lobby groups – that the application included a stipulation that animals could only travel for two hours (between a farm and a processing facility).

In particular, this had been raised by Tim Cullinan – president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) – who had said: “They [Bord Bia] have introduced, completely out of the blue, a new transport aspect which would appear to suggest that animals must go to a factory less than two hours away.”

However, a Bord Bia spokesperson has challenged Cullinan’s reading of the application, saying it was “misinterpreted”.

“With regard to the two-hour radius, the application wording has been misinterpreted… There is no change in these requirements over the current standard transport requirements in the SBLAS [Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme] and MPQAS [Meat Processor Quality Assurance Scheme],” the spokesperson explained.

‘It is not a stipulation…’

“The application was simply making a virtue of the fact that low transport times are a feature of Irish beef production.

It is not a stipulation that the journey time must be under two hours in order for beef to qualify.

Bord Bia also moved to provide clarity on another sticking point that was raised by the IFA – the exclusion of young bulls.

The Bord Bia spokesperson said: “We have set out the PGI document in accordance with the EU GI [geographic indications].

“The selection criteria mean that only selected qualities of animals are included that reflect: the specific product with the reputation that you are protecting; and that these are inextricably linked with the unique production system of the region.

Why are young bulls excluded?

“The key requirement of any PGI application is to specifically describe what is unique, protectable and reflects the actual farming, selection and processing steps that make this product.

“In Ireland, these categories are steers and heifers, with the PGI application using the expanded in-spec grade range that was agreed by the Beef Market Taskforce as an existing platform to define the grades.

Young bulls are not included in the application, as the production systems [for them] are not unique to Ireland.

The spokesperson also said that, as a national opposition procedure is currently underway, Bord Bia was not in a position to enter into further debate or discussion on the PGI application at the present time.

The purpose of the national opposition procedure is to allow interested individuals who were not involved in the PGI application process to submit their views.