Milk producers and cheese makers signed a much-awaited agreement on PDO-certified halloumi, putting an official end to a longstanding row over Cyprus’ famous cheese.

The mutually accepted framework, cobbled together after a long-running and rancorous dispute, was signed in the presence of agriculture minister Costas Kadis by sheep farmers, cow farmers and cheese makers.

Following a verbal agreement reached earlier this week, the deal covers compliance with the law on halloumi as PDO, registration of cheese makers with the certification authority – a prerequisite to produce the PDO – and expansion of the transitional period until 2029 so that sheep and goat milk production can be ramped up.

The government undertook to give cheese markers a “reasonable” time to manage halloumi stocks that do not have PDO certification. No date was given, with CyBC reporting that the meeting considered the possibility of the halloumi being ‘repackaged’ and put back on sale under a different name or being offered for free at army camps and charitable organisations.

Under the agreement, farmers will receive more for their milk from August 1, while state support will also be granted.

Earlier this week, Kadis had said that for an initial transitional period, products may be labelled ‘halloumi’ as long as they contain at least 10 per cent goat and sheep milk, quickly ramping up to 20 per cent, as goat and sheep farmers increase their animal stocks.

The final PDO label stipulates a share of 50 per cent sheep and goat milk, the rest consisting of cow milk.

The Commission Regulation registering halloumi as a PDO was published in April of 2021.

Cyprus first filed an application for the cheese in July 2014 and at the time a transitional period of 10 years from the date of submission had been granted to operators to fully comply.

Meanwhile during a press briefing in Brussels on Tuesday, a European Commission spokesman confirmed the EU understands that Cyprus now plans to file a request for modifications to the halloumi PDO file.

The Commission is in touch with Nicosia and the process would “take its course,” the spokesman added.

Responding to a query, the spokesman confirmed that it is possible to file for modifications to a geographical designation product.