Taskforce told: Suckler-based PGI owned by farmers ‘the only viable option’

A suckler-based application for EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) is the only realistic option, stakeholders were told at a meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce yesterday, Thursday, June 25.

Making the comments, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) president Edmond Phelan said:

“The ICSA wants to see segmentation of the market whereby suckler beef is developed as a special high-value product.

Any proposal that excludes suckler young bulls but would include 10-year-old dairy cows is unworkable.

Phelan said there were many questions yet be to be answered around the ownership rights associated with a suckler brand or PGI status, given that it depends on farmers’ data and work.

“The ICSA is insisting that primary producers must own the PGI status; Bord Bia cannot own it if it is the auditor. The whole concept of PGI means it cannot be owned by multinational industry,” he said.

Yesterday’s meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce was conducted by video conference.

The ICSA also raised the issue of the price differential between cattle sold in the north of Ireland as opposed to the republic, with Phelan stating:

There can be no justification for Irish producers being €150/head down on their northern counterparts.

Continuing, the president noted: “An update was given from Grant Thornton on the status of its report into competition law as it relates to the beef sector.

“While we await this report, the ICSA remains in no doubt that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is not fit for purpose.

Further commissioned reports on market and customer requirements and the price composition of the total value of the animal along the supply chain are also in train but require additional cooperation from all relevant stakeholders.

The ICSA also reiterated the urgency of reopening the Chinese market to Irish beef.

“This market has been closed since Friday, May 22. There has been ample time to sort out this procedural matter and more must be done to speed up the process,” Phelan concluded.