T2. Mr Gildernew asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, who will be aware that the European Commission has called for the North to be included in the Irish grass-fed beef protected geographical indication (PGI) application, whether he joins him in welcoming that development. (AQT 1352/17-22)
The Minister will be aware of the welcomed additional value that such an inclusion would have in the value of our beef output — up to 20%, some evidence indicates — and of the fact that the carbon footprint of our grass-fed cattle is much lower than the global average. Does the Minister agree that an all-Ireland PGI status would play a key role in recognising the fact that we have the world's most climate-friendly beef here on the island of Ireland?
I am delighted to hear the Member making the argument that I was making earlier in Question Time — that it would be ludicrous to shift beef production from Northern Ireland to less carbon-friendly places in the world and that, therefore, the legislation before us is unwise. With regard to the issue that he raises, yes, we should be looking to identify every marketing opportunity that exists, and I therefore support the PGI Irish grass-fed status. There is potential for a British grass-fed status, which we may also be able to apply to. I do not care who gives us the highest price for our beef; I will be happy to take the highest price for beef from anywhere in the world if I can get it for my farmers.