Bord Bia urged to create low-carbon standard for bull beef

Ahead of today’s Beef Market Taskforce meeting, Macra na Feirme has reiterated its call for Bord Bia to recognise the importance of bull beef from a carbon footprint point of view.

Macra met with Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine ahead of the Beef Taskforce meeting today (Wednesday, September 23) to progress its objective of securing a differential in the market for more efficient beef animals.

The association called on Bord Bia to create a low-carbon standard and brand for bull beef.

Commenting, Macra na Feirme president Thomas Duffy said: “Ireland trades on its high-quality grass-fed beef but there’s not just beef competing for consumers.

If we want to protect the suckler cow we need to compete on the under 16-month bull beef product she can produce. That product is best promoted by showing its lower impact on carbon footprint.

Duffy, at the Agri-Food Strategy 2030, raised the potential for market differentiation for lower carbon beef. This is based on Bord Bia’s own consumer market research.

“We are not just competing with other countries’ beef – we are competing with pork and chicken and now fake meats, all of which are trading on their lower carbon impact,” he added.

“We need to turn that around and promote our bull beef as a competitor in that space.”

Regarding the PGI on Grass fed Irish Beef, Macra raised concerns around creating a two-tiered system for beef producers.

It is recognised internationally that both systems are primarily based on grass and managing high levels of grass fed, the young farmer representative group stressed.

“The suckler cow needs support – but we have to be clear to recognise the calf rearer as a beef farmer and not set them against each other,” Duffy warned.

“Plenty of farmers have both suckler cows and rear calves alongside.

This can’t be allowed to become a false divide in the sector, they should both benefit from any PGI.

Macra’s efforts to improve farm income for all beef producers include budget submissions around allowing farmers to reclaim VAT on sexed semen, which the association says was warmly welcomed by the Minister for Agriculture and junior ministers in the Department of Agriculture when lobbied on the issue.