Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has welcomed the move by northern Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill who today approved an application under the voluntary labelling scheme stating that it is as an important first step to address the anomaly of ‘nomad cattle’ that has arisen between cattle traded from south to north.
Mr Carthy thanked Minister O’Neill who has been eager to resolve this issue since he organised a meeting with her and members of the farming community, including IFA president Eddie Downey, earlier this year.
Beef imported from the south and slaughtered in the north cannot currently be labelled with a single country of origin. This has been used in recent months by processors to penalise farmers selling so called ‘nomadic cattle’.
Mr Carthy has explained that Minister Michelle O’Neill’s decision will allow for a beef processors to use the term ‘Irish’ for cattle imported from the south and finished in the north and will therefore hopefully prevent processors from reducing prices for such cattle as has been the case recently.
Matt Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee said;
“I want to personally thank Minister Michelle O’Neill for taking this important first step today. Hopefully the matter will be closer to being resolved from here on in.
“I have raised this matter on numerous occasions and have held meetings with the Minister in Stormont and have discussed this matter with all farming organisations affected by it. I have met several farmers who have been affected by the lower prices being offered for cattle which has been reared in this state and slaughtered in the north.
“Minister O’Neill’s decision, which I understand has been endorsed by Minister Simon Coveney, will allow such cattle to be labelled as Irish and will hopefully ensure that processors and retailers have no reason to reduce prices as the practise of trading cattle across the island of Ireland has been long-standing.”
Mr Carthy concluded;
“This is a very important first step but I intend to continue to liaise with farmers affected to ensure that if further measures are necessitated by either government or at a European level that we will be working on those immediately”.