PGI proposal ‘will undermine suckler farmers’ – INHFA

The organisation representing hill farmers has argued that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s proposal for a protected geographic status (PGI) for ‘Irish Grass-fed Beef’ will “undermine the development of a suckler beef brand”.

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) has said that it has written to Taoiseach Micheál Martin – who has taken over the agriculture portfolio in the government following the resignation of Dara Calleary – to recall the Beef Market Taskforce to discuss the PGI proposal.

In the letter, INHFA president said: “It will be logistically more difficult to robustly deliver on bullet point two, under the section titled ‘Promotion of a PGI designation for Irish beef’, were it to be implemented before the development of a brand proposition for Irish suckler beef.”

O’Donnell argued that the issue should be dealt with under a mechanism in the Beef Sector Agreement for resolving disputes.

“There is an urgency to ensure any such meeting is held well in advance of the September 11 deadline for opposition and submissions to the current PGI proposal. This will allow adequate time to address major issues relating to the possible impact on suckler production,” he said.

The INHFA president also pointed out that no representatives from the association were in attendance at a February 2019 ‘industry workshop’ with Bord Bia and the European Commission to discuss the PGI plans.

The INHFA has also raised concerns around the involvement of meat processors in “what should be a producer-lead initiative”.

PGI vs Grass-Fed Standard

The proposed application for protected geographical indication (PGI) status for ‘Irish Grass-Fed Beef’ was revealed on Friday, August 14, by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Following that, there was no shortage of confusion on the issue, with several farm organisations and other players in the sector having different interpretations.

Bord Bia spent a chunk of last week attempting to clarify the key sticking points, such as a ‘two-hour travel radius‘ that some farm leaders interpreted as a mandatory requirement, and concerns over when and if licenced hauliers had to be used.

Following that, Bord Bia went on to clarify some of the remaining points of contention, and to stress the fact that the PGI application and Bord Bia’s proposed ‘Grass-Fed Standard’ for Irish beef are quite separate things.