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MacManus accuses Bord Bia of dragging its heels on an all island grass-fed PGI

2 December, 2020 - by Chris MacManus MEP

MacManus accuses Bord Bia of dragging its heels on an all island grass-fed PGI

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands Northwest, Chris MacManus, believes Bord Bia is failing to assist the creation of an all-island Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for grass fed beef.

MacManus said:

“Firstly, Sinn Féin has had concerns that this PGI won’t deliver for farmers generally. PGIs are generally for niche products and with such a broad application, there are fears that this PGI will not be a bonus for farmers, but a penalty applied if they do not meet the standards.”

“This is why Sinn Féin has been arguing strongly for an additional suckler specific PGI. It does now seem the farm organisations have managed to get agreement on this from the Department through the beef task force. The farming organisations are to be commended for their persistence on this issue.”

“The Irish Government has been working on advancing the broader PGI application for Irish grass-fed beef. This status would be available to all farmers in the 26 Counties who meet the conditionality. Sinn Féin has consistently argued this must also include farmers in the north of Ireland.”

The Midlands Northwest MEP favours an all island approach: “It is essential Ireland’s PGI application include farmers in the north. Sinn Féin has discussed this issue with Minister McConalogue on a number of occasions. The Minister responded positively to the suggestion, but made it clear the application will not be amended at this stage. His position is that a grass-fed verification system must be in place in the north, before they will be included.”

“I have no issue with this and stakeholders in the north have begun the work of creating such a verification system. Agriculture is highly integrated across the island and cattle in the north are raised to exactly the same standards and specifications as everywhere else.”

“However, the work of stakeholders has been hampered due to a lack of effective engagement from Bord Bia. These stakeholders believe this is holding up the whole process, with no end in sight.”

MacManus concluded by warning of future complications: “The Irish Government is turning a blind eye to the situation, saying only that we should not be concerned, and the north can be added at a later late.”

“This is a haphazard approach and may result in stakeholders in the north objecting to the Irish Government’s application until the issue is resolved. The obvious solution is for Bord Bia to up its game and work with stakeholders in the north to complete the process.”

“I will be writing to the European Commission this week to ascertain whether adding the north at a later date is likely to be problematic.” ENDS

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