Farmers hailed as Irish grass-fed beef given all-Ireland EU status

The protected geographical indication (PGI) designation will apply on an all-island basis
The protected geographical indication (PGI) designation will apply on an all-island basis

The attainment of PGI status within the EU for Irish grass-fed beef has been described as a 'tremendous accolade' for farmers in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Irish grass-fed beef has been awarded an all-Ireland Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), a protection similar to that given to champagne and Irish whiskey.

Northern Ireland's new farming minister, Andrew Muir, said the news would place it "on the same pedestal as world-renowned products".

Northern Irish farming bodies had said that any application to register the product with a special EU designation must also include Northern Ireland.

The Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMC) and the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association (NIMEA) had raised 'real concerns' of being left out of the process.

Responding to the news, Mr Muir said: “Having a PGI is a triumph, a recognition of how the unique climate, landscape and practices of a region translates into food and drink, bestowing them with a distinctive taste and character.

"It is wonderful that the pedigree of Irish grass-fed beef has achieved this level of international recognition and an accolade to the hard working agriculture industry.”

He paid tribute to both the Livestock and Meat Commission and Board Bia for their collaborative work with processors and farmers in progressing the application.

He added: “The whole process has been an amazing success, not only by ensuring farmers North and South get the recognition they deserve, but in developing strong working relationships between government bodies north, south, east and west.

"I hope these relationships are further developed in any future all-island GI applications.”

Speaking from a beef farm in County Donegal, Charlie McConalogue, Republic of Ireland's farming minister, said it was a 'very positive day' for farmers and the beef sector on the island of Ireland.

"I welcome that with the Assembly and Executive back in place, Minister Muir and I are together to mark this substantial achievement for our Island and for our farmers," he said.

"[It] is reflective of the valuable and ongoing north-south co-operation on agricultural matters and our positive engagements in the interests of farmers and processors across the island.”

He added: "The primary produce from Irish farmers that goes into creating our internationally respected quality food is the backbone of our agri-food sector. Securing the PGI status is recognition of these premium standards.

"I look forward to seeing these PGI products on European supermarket shelves and continuing to tell the story of Irish farming to an international audience.”