PRESIDENT Anastasiades has given the two sides at odds over the registration of halloumi as a PDO (pdo) one month to agree on whether the file currently with the European Commission should be pursued or withdrawn.
The decision was taken after an acrimonious meeting at the presidential palace on Friday attended by representatives of the cow farmers, dairy producers, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and the agriculture minister, Costas Kadis, who insisted the government should proceed with the PDO registration.
Cow farmers and dairy producers are vehemently opposed to the registration, because the specifications listed in the file for halloumi, will cut production by 50 per cent of what it is now. Halloumi exports earn Cyprus some €200 million a year, a sum that would be halved if the national cheese is registered as a PDO.
The file specifications stipulate that halloumi should consist of 51 per cent sheep and goats’ milk and 40 per cent cow’s milk, whereas at present – the transitional period – the minimum of sheep and goats’ milk required is 20 per cent. Much greater quantities of cow’s milk are available in Cyprus and a switch to file specs would drastically reduce production.
Kadis insisted at the meeting that the file should be registered and changes made to it subsequently. Other participants argued that changes would not be so easy to make and could require a long time. It was also said that once the PDO in its present form comes into effect – 20 days after registration – objections would be filed against it and these would prevent Cyprus exporting any cheese as halloumi.
As a compromise, Anastasiades decided that a delegation, led by Kadis, accompanied by representatives of dairy producers, cow farmers and foreign retailers of halloumi should visit Brussels for a meeting with the committee handling the PDO file. The delegation would be able to establish if changes can be made to the file, how long it would take and how the committee would deal with any objections submitted.
The visit to Brussels would have to wait until next month when the new commissioners take over their duties. A final decision will be taken once the delegation reports back to the president.