The sheep and goat farmers’ coordinating committee expressed dissatisfaction on Monday with decisions taken in their absence at last week’s presidential meeting with cheesemakers over halloumi production.

The farmers also expressed approval of the fact that President Nikos Christodoulides responded to their calls for a meeting with them, which has been set for January 29.

“We are carefully and diligently following the events and developments concerning PDO halloumi and of course awaiting information from the minister of agriculture in the next few days,” the committee said.

The farmers said they stand for a full application of the EU regulations governing PDO halloumi.

“A permanent requirement [has been], is, and will be the faithful application of the legislation and the European regulation [governing] PDO halloumi,” they added.

The government on Thursday proposed to extend to February 21 the validity of an existing decree regulating the milk ratios of halloumi in a last-ditch effort to avert threatened strikes by cheesemakers.

Under the existing decree, issued last October, the mandatory quota of sheep and goat’s milk was set for 19 per cent until February 1, whereafter it would have gone up to 25 per cent.

Government Spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said after the meeting that the particular date was chosen because it is the same day the European General Court will issue a ruling on the matter.

The ongoing dispute centres on the fact that the agriculture ministry and the cheesemakers have differing evaluations of what is feasible in terms of production of PDO as well as non-PDO halloumi, and milk availability.

Cattle farmers are also disgruntled by concerns that cow milk production will be dented as the ratio of sheep and goats’ milk in halloumi rises. Both cheesemakers and cattle farmers want the deadline for transition to be extended to 2029.

The European Commission had given Cyprus a transitional period until July 2024 regarding the content of PDO halloumi.

From the beginning of February to July, the minimum sheep and goat’s milk content should be 25 per cent. After the July cutoff, the content would gradually increase so as to finally achieve a 50-50 split between sheep and goat’s milk, and cow’s milk.