Anti-QA petition reaches 2,000 in boycott campaign
Numbers of farmers signed up to the ICSA petition to boycott the Quality Assurance Scheme have doubled over the last week, with an additional 1,000 farmers signing up during the Ploughing Championships.
"This is a hugely impressive figure given the level of detail sought on our petition form, which includes herd numbers as a verification tool," said ICSA president Patrick Kent.
"This is not a petition that anybody can sign - these are real farmers that are currently involved in quality assured suckler or beef production. To date, 2,000 of them have now signed up to our campaign," he said.
The ICSA said that another 600 people had signed their petition calling for a regulator for the meat industry. The ICSA has been pushing for a regulator for the sector for some time.
"If the Minister had heeded our call for such a regulator months ago, we might not find ourselves in this position now," said Mr Kent.
"Farmers signed up to Quality Assurance in good faith, with the promise of better markets and better returns for all. But this did not materialise for farmers despite all the work we put in to ensure high standards," he said.
Mr Kent claimed that "artificial road-blocks" had been put in the way of farmers, such as the 30-month age limit, the four-movement and 70-day-residency requirements, along with lower age- and weight-limit restrictions for bull beef.
"While we are pleased with the number of signatures we have received to date, we intend to further harness the farmer anger and disillusionment with the Quality Assurance Scheme to make it very clear to processors and retailers that farmers have had enough," said Mr Kent.