New labelling to solve North-South impasse
New branding and labelling options are being considered by the Department of Agriculture in an effort to get the cattle trade between north and south flowing again.
Farmers, marts and processors north of the Border have been hit following the implementation of harsh penalties on animals that are reared in the South but slaughtered in the North.
"Beef farmers and the livestock marts are under awful pressure due to the implementation of unreasonable specifications by processors and retailers that cost up to £150/hd just because it has crossed the border and designated 'nomad'," said Sinn Fein's agriculture spokesperson, Martin Ferris.
The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney met with his northern counterpart, Michelle O'Neill, last week to explore possible solutions to the impasse.
The IFA president Eddie Downey, who was also present, said that meat processors in Northern Ireland also want the live trade to open up and are prepared to slaughter cattle from the Republic provided the necessary labelling arrangements are cleared up.
He said branding and labelling options, which meet the EU labelling requirements, have been submitted to the Department of Agriculture.
Mr Downey said urgent action is required before the autumn cattle trade picks up at the livestock marts where Northern Ireland buyers play a significant role.
ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan welcomed the fact that the administrations north and south were looking at all- island solutions to fulfilling the marketing requirements of the British retailers. However, he warned that a solution had to be found soon.