A leading political source has told Agriland that Tesco (UK) has – in principle – agreed a new beef marketing arrangement, which will allow all the beef produced from cattle born and reared on the island of Ireland to be labelled as ‘Irish’.

The details will be made public early next week. The source added: “This will help resolve the issue of nomad cattle in the context of the traditional store animal trade between the Republic and the North of Ireland.

“The news will be very much welcomed by suckler and store livestock producers in the West of Ireland, not to mention all the marts in that region.”

Under the envisaged labelling arrangement, the UK supermarket will accept the traceability details of calves born in the Republic of Ireland and subsequently exported North as weanlings.

This change to the beef labelling arrangements has been highlighted, over the past number of months, by farm ministers Simon Coveney and Michelle O’Neill as the most effective way to resolve the nomad cattle issue. As part of their joint initiative on this matter they contacted all of the main UK food retailers some weeks ago, highlighting the feasibility of an Irish labelling solution for meat produced from store cattle born in the Republic, but subsequently finished and slaughtered in the North.

The possibility of a new ‘all-island’ labelling arrangement was also flagged up an IFA Beef Protest Meeting, held in Tullamore last night.

IFA Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said:“IFA has led the campaign to remove the artificial roadblocks impeding the important live trade to Northern Ireland. IFA, in association with Northern processors, presented branding solutions which have now been approved by Minister O’Neill in the North and DEFRA in the UK.

The IFA is aware of further developments and is continuing to work proactively on the issue. We are hopeful that the progress made will result in a positive outcome.”