Rogers Calls on North-South Effort to Sort Out Beef Labelling
SOUTH Down SDLP Assembly Member Seán Rogers has called on the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in Stormont, as well as the Minister with responsibility for Agriculture, Food and Marine in the South to investigate and rectify the erroneous issue of beef labelling.
Mr Rogers said: “Following on from the Horsemeat scandal, a review took place of how carcasses are labelled. As a consequence, cattle imported from Southern Ireland to the North, finished in the North and slaughtered in the North are now labelled as “Nomads” as no labelling is available to classify their origins.
“This labelling issue is greatly impacting upon free trade among producers of store cattle in southern Ireland and feeders/finishers of these cattle in Northern Ireland. In relation to harvest time when there is a high volume of cattle being sold, it is important to highlight that these Northern Ireland finishers will be prohibited from buying store cattle and as a result leaving a depressed market.
“It is also leaves these extra cattle available to the Southern factories to manipulate beef prices later in the year, as they will have the opportunity to feed these cattle themselves. These cattle can then be slaughtered in southern Ireland, brought North, boned out, shipped onto England and sold as Irish beef. This practice cannot continue if beef production is to continue in Ireland, as a sustainable farming business.
“From January 2013 to date, there has been a huge drop in the number of imported cattle from the South to the North and these numbers will continue to tumble unless urgent action is taken to rectify the bureaucratic issue of labelling.
“I have made representations to both Ministers on this matter and I await their intervention. This farming cross border co-operation has been a long standing tradition and one which has been very successful due to the high calibre of produce involved. Farmers have endured so much hardship in recent times so it is vital that this issue is brought to a resolution sooner rather than later, “ added Mr Rogers.