Bord Bia decision on young bull beef welcomed

Yesterday, Tuesday, July 14, Bord Bia revealed finalised details of its proposal for a grass-fed standard for Irish beef – which will now include young bull beef.

The question of whether or not to include young bulls in the standard had been the subject of controversy in recent weeks, with some farm organisations advocating for the inclusion of the produce.

Following Bord Bia’s decision yesterday, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) welcomed the news, with its president, Tim Cullinan, saying that it is “the right thing to do for farmers”.

“I want to acknowledge the fact that Bord Bia has listened to reason on this matter and adopted a flexible approach in order to maximise the proportion of beef that will qualify as grass-fed,” Cullinan said.

Not all young bull beef systems will fit into the grass-fed standard, but if farmers operate their system to meet the criteria, they will now be able to qualify.

However, Cullinan argued that, while these changes apply to Bord Bia’s plans for a grass-fed standard, the issue of seeking protected geographical indication (PGI) for Irish beef “needs far more discussion before it proceeds any further”.

Bord Bia’s decision has also been welcomed by Macra na Feirme, whose president, Thomas Duffy, commented: “This is a good recognition of the potential of bull beef to be environmentally friendly.

“It will still be challenging to meet the feed requirements but this standard should reward those who are among the most progressive beef farmers,” Duffy added.

However, like Cullinan, Duffy stipulated that: “Questions still remain around the PGI application and the inclusion of bull beef, and how today’s decision will affect this.”

Formalised proposal

In a statement yesterday, a spokesperson for Bord Bia said: “The development of the grass-fed standard for Irish beef has involved ongoing, active consultation between Bord Bia and key stakeholders including producer organisations and industry.

“In response to feedback received, Bord Bia has now formalised its proposal to adapt the scope of the standard to accommodate young bull beef.

“This means young bull beef will now be eligible to be assessed in the grass-fed standard, along with steers, heifers and cows,” the spokesperson added.