INHFA lodges objection to PGI application for grass-fed beef

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has officially lodged an opposition statement to the current Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) application for Irish grass-fed beef.

INHFA President Colm O’Donnell has stated:

“We were left with no choice in the matter because of the lack of consultation and debate on the application with suckler farmers, who see this grass-fed PGI as a threat to their naturally reared product and as being driven by processors and the dairy industry.

I have requested that Minister McConalogue reconvene the Beef Market Taskforce without delay to have a meaningful debate surrounding this PGI application.

“We have to find a resolution to this official dispute lodged by the INHFA to the taskforce where we feel that the taskforce agreement is in danger of reneging on its commitment to the development proposition of a suckler brand.”

“Irish Grass-Fed Beef” is the name given to quality Irish beef raised on a grass-based diet on pasture grazing farms in Ireland, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Deadline for opposition statements

All parties had a period of four weeks ending last Friday, September 11, 2020, to submit a reasoned statement of opposition in accordance with the regulatory requirements.

O’Donnell said: “The development of a suckler brand will be virtually impossible to deliver from within the taskforce if the vast majority of all Irish beef comes under the PGI and this must now become a top priority for implementation by the taskforce to preserve its integrity.

“During our pre-budget talks with the Minister for Agriculture, the INHFA has asked for €4 million to be specifically channelled to deliver on this taskforce commitment to develop a suckler brand,” the farm leader added.

Geographical Indications are a type of intellectual property right, protecting food product names which are linked to a particular territory or to a production method.

EU member states

Speaking to AgriLand, O’Donnell added: “It [PGI application] goes to the commission, it goes to Europe where all member states can also oppose or put in opposition to it. It could fly here and when it goes to Europe it could fall down. That is the process.

“Our fear here is that if this is developed and you get a PGI, that the benefit won’t even come to the producer, the primary producer,” he concluded.