Bord Bia’s inclusion of young bulls in its grass-fed standard has been welcomed by farm organisations.
The state agency has agreed to a number of changes to its grass-fed standard:
- To adapt the scope of the grass-fed standard to accommodate young bull beef. This means young bull beef will now be eligible to be included in the grass-fed standard, along with steers, heifers and cows;
- To provide that the first nine months of an animal’s life (including young bulls) will be deemed as grass-fed regardless of whether they were on QA (Quality Assured) or non-QA farm(s);
- To treat young bulls the same as other animal categories with their qualification as grass-fed being dependent on meeting the criteria of the standard concerning the proportion of grass in the diet and grazing days.
‘Far more discussion’ needed
IFA president, Tim Cullinan, described the move as the “right thing to do for farmers”. He said the farm group could never agree to the exclusion of young bull beef from the grass-fed standard and insisted that this category of animal was treated along similar lines to all other types.
“I want to acknowledge the fact that Bord Bia has listened to reason on this matter and adopted a flexible approach in order to maximise the proportion of beef that will qualify as grass-fed.”
“Not all young bull beef systems will fit into the grass-fed standard, but if farmers operate their system to meet the criteria, they will now be able to qualify,” he added.
“These changes apply to the Bord Bia grass-fed standard. Bord Bia had originally intended this to be the basis for Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) application. However, this needs far more discussion before it proceeds any further,” the farm leader added.
Macra na Feirme president, Thomas Duffy, said: “This is a good recognition of the potential of bull beef to be environmentally friendly.”
“It will still be challenging to meet the feed requirements, but this standard should reward those who are amongst the most progressive beef farmers.”
The rural youth organisation said it has consistently raised the issue of those producing young bull beef and the potential for development of this sector through Beef Taskforce meetings and in meetings with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
“Questions still remain around the PGI application and the inclusion of bull beef and how today's decision will affect this.” Duffy concluded.