The Department of Agriculture is seeking legal advice to see if the proposed Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) for grass-fed Irish beef could impact future PGI applications.
At the Beef Taskforce meeting last week, concerns were raised as to whether the PGI could make it more difficult for future applications for more specific PGI designation, such as ones based on breed or region.
The proposed PGI has come in for much criticism, and farm organisations questioned who would have ownership of it.
Bord Bia said there is a delicate balance to be struck for a strong application which has the best chance of success and includes the most animals possible.
However, while the farming organisations broadly welcomed the idea of PGI, they said compromise may be necessary to facilitate the best PGI application and raised concerns that there should be more emphasis on beef from the suckler herd.
But ICMSA president Pat McCormack said he was perplexed by the “foot-dragging” around the possible application for PGI status for grass-fed Irish beef.He said all parties concerned must realise that a potential benefit for all producers of Irish beef was being delayed – and possibly lost – by this attitude and an overall ‘plus’ for Irish beef production was being squandered.
“People need to wake up to the fact that the Irish beef sector is facing a hugely uncertain period and the longer we delay on this PGI application, the greater the danger that we will not succeed,” he said.
“The Irish beef sector has a really good story to tell and we have to start giving ourselves the room to reposition and build margin. And ICMSA is not convinced we have as much time to do this as some of the other parties to the discussion seem to think,” he said.
“The PGI application must be finalised as soon as possible and submitted to the EU Commission for approval. If/when that is received, then Bord Bia will have to put the necessary resources in place to drive the Grass Fed PGI to deliver better returns for all beef farmers.”