THE ICSA says there is no excuse for Irish beef prices are not above the EU average with the achievement of PGI status for Irish grass-fed beef imminent.
Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue last week announced that the European Commission has confirmed that it has finalised the opposition procedure on the application for a protected geographic indicator (PGI) for grass-fed Irish beef.
This clears the way for the final stage of adoption and publication by the Commission which they have advised should conclude by mid-December. ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham welcomed the minister’s announcement but said the product’s value should is not being reflected in the price.
‘In both 2022 and 2023 to date, the second half of the year has seen Irish prime R3 grade cattle lower than the EU average for young bulls. In recent weeks we have seen a negative differential of over 30c/kg between Irish and EU prices which is a sorry reflection on our ability to market our beef and to deliver a dividend for the efforts by so many farmers in participating in the SBLAS quality assurance programme,’ he said.
‘The PGI status is delivering substantial premium bonuses to all sorts of EU products, and it is now essential that we see this reflected in our beef offerings to EU outlets. Proof will be in the pudding in terms of price paid to farmers. ICSA will expect to see the 70c/kg fall in price, since May, reversed in the coming months and the PGI status must be aggressively used to achieve this.
‘This must also provide a foundation for the suckler brand work, which now needs to be driven in the marketplace.
‘It is now time to see Bord Bia and the meat factories deliver on the promise of better prices from these marketing initiatives which have been in gestation over the past four years.’
The ICSA is seeking for a monitoring group to be established immediately which would ensure that farmer representatives have a decisive say in the use of the PGI brand.
‘This PGI status is not the property of any one meat processor. The whole point of PGI is to recognise and monetise the work and unique specialisation of the primary producer based on tradition or geographical region.
‘Minister McConalogue will not be judged on the achievement of the PGI status but on how he ensures that it is managed to deliver a better return to the primary producer,’ concluded Mr Graham.
The ICSA represents around 12,000 farmers, and its chairman is Inchigeela’s Dermot Kelleher.