Sheep and goat breeders have announced their intention to protest over non-implementation of PDO (product of designated origin) requirements for halloumi.
But the agriculture ministry said their differences that occurred can be resolved with dialogue.
Following a meeting in Choirokoitia on Thursday, attended by the livestock breeders, MPs of the agriculture and trade committees including committee chairs, and other agricultural organisations, the group pressed for proper implementation of agreed-upon legislation and declared their determination to avoid a five-year transitional stage.
In statements following the meeting, head of the goat and sheep breeders, Giorgos Demetriou, said they call on Minister of Agriculture Petros Xenophontos to “assume responsibilities deriving from his duties, implement the legislation that governs PDO products, and cease to cover specific industries.”
Demetriou was referring to a well-known cheese-producer who has allegedly been permitted to produce and sell cheese labelled as “halloumi” which does not even contain the minimum required ratio-that is 10 per cent- goat and sheep milk, a spokesman clarified speaking to state broadcaster CyBC on Friday.
The only penalty imposed on the cheese producer who was caught operating outside of legal regulation, was to re-label the product and be allowed to send it abroad, the spokesman claimed.
The main demand of the sheep and goat farmers is that the required milk ratios be increased from the current 20 per cent to 35 per cent by February, and to 51 per cent by June, as per previous agreement.
Additional demands include for cheesemakers who do not fulfil the PDO and “halloumi” label criteria to be fined and stricter prohibition and monitoring of the use of the word “halloumi” on packaging.
The livestock breeder raised concerns that the current rate of non-compliance raises the spectre losing the PDO label for halloumi.
“If we keep modifying the regulations and lawsuits continue, PDO will be done away with,” the breeder said.
Asked whether livestock farmers they can produce enough sheep and goat milk to meet the demand should implementation be tightened, the spokesman answered in the affirmative and noted there has already been a 45 per cent increase in production since the PDO label went into effect.
In response to animal farmers’ intention to protest, the agriculture ministry issued a statement assuring it is monitoring developments regarding the product of Protected Designation of Origin “Halloumi” (Halloumi)/Hellim” and the discussions that are taking place on the issue among all stakeholders.
The ministry said it is taking the necessary steps to resolve the issues that have arisen.
It added that its primary objective is to safeguard the protection of the product through its registration as a PDO and to maintain the great benefits of the registration for the agricultural economy of the country.
Earlier in the month the agriculture minister stated that the ministry had prioritised incentives and support for milk producers following a steady rise in demand for halloumi from abroad.
The demonstration by the sheep and goat milk producers is scheduled for October 18.