Poots welcomes agreement on UK opposition to Irish Grass Fed Beef PGI

Date published: 11 July 2022

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.

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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.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The UK government, representing the Northern Ireland beef industry, made an official opposition to the European Commission regarding Bord Bia’s application for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for ‘Irish Grass fed Beef’ within the EU. The opposition was on the basis that the application excluded grass fed beef produced in Northern Ireland. The opposition made clear that Irish Grass Fed Beef is produced in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and historically the term ‘Irish’ has been used to refer to products produced in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland and therefore argued that the name should be protected as a PGI unless it can be used in relation to grass fed beef produced anywhere on the island of Ireland. Restricting the use of the name ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’ to beef produced in the Republic of Ireland would not reflect or respect the current usage of that name, it would create misunderstanding about the nature of the product and would be detrimental to consumers in general and to Northern Ireland producers in particular. Further, grass fed beef produced in Northern Ireland – outside the geographical area covered by the application – has similar qualities, reputation and characteristics to that produced in the Republic of Ireland.  The European Commission accepted that the opposition had merit and invited all parties to meet for discussions with a view to agreeing how the application might be modified to address the opposition. 
  2. Discussions, attended by representatives from DAERA, DAFM, Defra, Bord Bia and the Livestock & Meat Commission, have agreed to accommodate Northern Ireland within the designated geographic area for the PGI application. 
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