Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA, today welcomed the progress that has been made towards including Northern Ireland beef in the effort to obtain Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for 'Irish Grass fed Beef' within the EU.
If granted, farmers in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland who meet the criteria will be able to market their beef in European Union countries under the PGI protection and attract a premium for their product.
Minister Poots said: "I strongly support the inclusion of Northern Ireland's grass-fed beef being included in this application. I am hopeful that the modified application will be successful and producers in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic will benefit from deserved recognition of the quality, characteristics and reputation of their beef."
Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) president David Brown said: "Our members made it very clear from the outset that they wanted to be part of the Irish Grass Fed Beef PGI. We worked with government and industry to secure Northern Ireland's (NI) inclusion so that the benefits are enjoyed across the island of Ireland by all beef farmers. This will help ensure that our NI beef farmers remain on a level playing field with those in the Republic of Ireland and can receive a fair economical return for the high-quality product they produce. We welcome the PGI's recognition and protection of the credentials and quality of our grass-fed beef which is widely known in the marketplace."
The Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMC) Chief Executive, Ian Stevenson said: "We are encouraged by the most recent positive and constructive phase of the 'Irish Grass Fed Beef' PGI application process. The consultation period that was advised by the EU Commission, following our initial opposition, has enabled agreement to be reached by LMC and Bord Bia on the PGI specification which will apply to the whole geographic area of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. LMC has been working for over two years on behalf of the Northern Ireland beef industry to ensure that we were included in the application process.
"Through constructive dialogue with stakeholders in the Republic of Ireland the application will proceed to the next phase of this technical process for further scrutiny by the European Commission. We welcome this latest development which is another step towards formal recognition and further endorsement of the high quality beef produced in Northern Ireland."
It is expected that the Republic of Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) will inform the European Commission that an agreement has been reached and ask seek approval for a revised all-island PGI application. It is possible that the application could be approved before the end of 2022.