The commitment given by Bord Bia to assist in the development of a suckler beef brand is “critical”, according to the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA).

According to a statement from the INHFA, Bord Bia gave the commitment during talks on the beef sector that have been taking place this week.

The proposal, which was included in a final draft of wider recommendations, is “critical as it is the first time we have had acknowledgement of the need to recognise this brand”, according to Brendan Joyce, a spokesperson for the INHFA.

The association has also welcomed a further Bord Bia commitment to seek EU funding worth €3 million to support a promotional campaign for Irish suckler beef in European markets.

“In the event of the EU funding not being realised, we need a commitment from the national exchequer to fund the proposal,” argued Joyce.

“While these talks have focused on delivering improved outcomes for finished stock, which is something we are happy to support, we also need to ensure better outcomes for suckler farmers that may not be selling through the factories,” said Joyce.

He stressed that suckler farmers “are on their knees and feel attacked from all sides”, which, he said, explains the “very high level of frustration” that was seen during the recent protests – spearheaded by the Beef Plan Movement – that resulted in the talks.

These farmers need to be given a clear plan that can deliver an improved return, which can be achieved through the re-branding of our naturally reared suckler beef.

Joyce highlighted the level of public awareness and concern over climate change and animal husbandry.

“The re-branding of our suckler beef can address both of these concerns while delivering for our farmers,” he concluded.