The European Parliament’s Committee an Agriculture and Rural Development is currently working on the new legislative proposal of the European Commission on quality and on marketing standards.  Following a vote on this issue in the Committee today, Liam Aylward, MEP for Ireland East has welcomed the decision of the Committee to develop the current schemes and simplify the procedure for in order make it more accessible to producers and support European high value products.

“European and Irish farmers produce agricultural products and food of great variety and high standards.  High value products are in demand and these schemes assist the consumer in making informed choices but they must be more widely employed, particularly in Ireland.”

“Often the red-tape involved is off-putting for small producers but the benefits of having a registered and recognisable product under these schemes is substantial.  In the European Parliament Report we focused on reducing the red-tape which farmers and producers face, but it is also important that Member States assist farmers in this process and do not add an extra level of administration to the process.”

The Report focused on the current quality schemes: Protected designation of origin scheme (PDO) covering agricultural products prepared in specific geographical areas using recognised local know-how, Protected Geographical Indication Scheme (PGI) covering products closely linked to a specific area and the Traditional Specialty Guaranteed Scheme (TSG) which highlights the traditional character of the foodstuff.

“The aim of these schemes is to encourage and support diverse and traditional agricultural production, protect product names from imitation and help consumers identify high quality products of this nature.”

“Irish farmers and food producers use many traditional methods of production, traditional recipes, sometimes centuries old and are well placed to benefit from these schemes.  They should apply to these schemes and be rewarded for their know-how and assisted in their commitment to high quality produce and tradition.”   

At present Ireland has a small number of products registered under these schemes, including Connemara Hill Lamb, Timoleague Brown Pudding and Clare Island Salmon.  However according to the Ireland East MEP there is significant scope for expansion to include further Irish traditional and local products:

“Ireland has a wealth of high quality products produced in a traditional or specific way or using traditional recipes generations old and local know-how.  Irish food producers have trump card here and should seek to engage with these schemes to their advantage and to the benefit of the consumer.”

The Report on Agricultural Product Quality Schemes was supported in the Agricultural Committee today and the amended Report will now be sent to the Plenary for a full vote at the next European Parliament session.