I propose to take Questions Nos. 321, 322, 351 and 352 together.
All of the issues raised by the Deputy will be examined in the context of the Beef Task Force which I have recently established to oversee the implementation of the beef sector agreement which was reached on 15th September. This taskforce will be independently chaired by Michael Dowling and is comprised of representatives from my Department and relevant agencies, as well as key beef sector stakeholders. The Task Force will have its inaugural meeting next week.
In relation to specific issues raised which are already being progressed:
My Department, along with Bord Bia, has been working with the EU Commission to explore the implications and options to develop a PGI application for Irish grass fed beef, and will continue to do so.
EU Directive 2019/633 on unfair trading practices in business to business relationships in the agricultural and food supply chain (UTP Directive) entered into force on 30 April 2019. EU Law requires that the Directive must be transposed into national law by 1 May 2021. An inter-departmental working group was established earlier this year made up of officials from my Department and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI). This working group is currently finalising a stakeholder consultation process which will invite submissions from interested parties on the transposition and enforcement of the UTP Directive.
As part of the Beef sector agreement of 15th September, the following Initiatives aimed at improving information along the supply chain will include the commissioning of:
- an independent review of market and customer requirements, specifically in relation to the four in-spec bonus criteria currently in operation in the Irish beef sector;
- an independent examination of the price composition of the total value of the animal, including the fifth quarter, along the supply chain; and
- a summary of competition law issues as relevant to the Irish beef sector.