‘PGI must deliver price premium for farmers’ – Cullinan

The Irish Farmers’ Association president Tim Cullinan has said that while the application for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for Irish grass-fed beef is welcome, it must deliver a price premium for farmers.

The publication of the final version of the PGI application for “Irish Grass Fed Beef”, submitted by Bord Bia, has been announced by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, today (Thursday, November 26).

strong, Families
IFA president Tim Cullinan

Tim Cullinan said: “It is farmers who have created this brand through our grass-fed animals and it is farmers that must see the return.”

What is PGI status?

Under the EU quality schemes, achieving PGI recognition for products enables consumers to trust and distinguish quality products while also helping producers to market their products better.

PGI status is a type of intellectual property right, protecting food product names which are linked to a particular territory or to a particular production method, e.g. Connemara Hill Lamb.

A successful PGI application to the European Commission would allow Irish beef, which meets the specification, to bear the PGI logo.

PGI for Grass Fed Beef

The application for PGI status for Irish Grass Fed Beef was agreed following intensive discussions between the IFA, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, his department and Bord Bia.

The IFA said that the process “delivered significant changes and a more farmer-centred brand”, with a key aspect being a “farmer-controlled monitoring group” overseeing the brand.

Sucker brand

Cullinan said a fundamental aspect of the agreement for the PGI application is the development of a farmer-controlled suckler brand, with a budget of €6 million, that will recognise the additional value in beef from suckler farms.

“The department and Bord Bia must now move immediately to develop the suckler beef brand, to go alongside the PGI application, as agreed with IFA,” Cullinan said.

The IFA said that the assessments for the meat and fat colour will only be part of the standard Bord Bia audit at factories, and will not impact on the price paid to farmers for their grass-fed product.

A letter requesting the EU Commission to include young bulls, if they meet the grass-fed criteria, and the issue of Northern Ireland, will also accompany the application.

IFA livestock chairman Brendan Golden said: “The PGI will give us a chance to promote the world-renowned qualities of Irish beef while working on a brand for beef from suckler farms that promotes the quality, environmental and socio-economic benefits of this production system.

“We look forward to developing these brands to get increased returns for beef and suckler farmers,” Golden said.