Farm Ireland

Saturday 22 October 2016

Beef farmers seek more leeway on audit failures

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

Eddie Punch (left) pictured with Patrick Kent at the ICSA Annual Conference. Photo: Michael Donnelly.
Eddie Punch (left) pictured with Patrick Kent at the ICSA Annual Conference. Photo: Michael Donnelly.

Top farmers who are 'poster boys' for supermarkets are failing Bord Bia quality assurance audits for "trivial" reasons, warned the ICSA.

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A long-awaited review of the schemes for lamb, beef and dairy is ongoing as the farm bodies call for farmers to be given time to address minor issues rather than be excluded from the scheme for three months in most cases.

"This scenario, where today you are quality assured, tomorrow you are not, is not acceptable," ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch told farmers gathered at an ICSA sheep seminar in Teagasc's Mountbellew college.

"You know the farcical thing about it is we have seen scenarios where farmers who would be poster boys for supermarkets failing over something trivial in Bord Bia inspections. That can't be right."

Bord Bia figures show there are 45,723 certified beef farmers, 11,993 lamb and 10,532 certified dairy farmers, with over 14,100 applications received for the latest dairy scheme.

With 35,000 audits carried out last year, Bord Bia confirmed the failure rate was 7pc, with record keeping the most common reason.

"The same standard applies to all members of the scheme," a spokesperson for Bord Bia said.

Under the dairy scheme, farmers are given time, or a 'close out' period of one month, to address a non-compliance issue. This is currently also being considered for the new revised beef scheme.

Mr Punch said it was hitting people hard in the pocket and it was adding to the pressure from the whole inspections regime.

"The bottom line from our point of view is that we can't have people's livelihoods ruined overnight. In a lot of cases now you can't get stock killed at certain times of the year at all if you are not quality assured. In other cases you lose the 12c bonus on the cattle. That is not fair to farmers," said Mr Punch.

The ICSA stated they were looking for an automatic right to a second audit within a two month time-frame, and a period of grace to reassess issues. They also want the option of a second audit with a different auditor.

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