Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Almost €6m spent inspecting farmers for Quality Assurance Scheme in 2015

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture spent in excess of €5.7m in 2015 auditing farmers as part of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme.

Figures from Bord Bia show that €5,742,000 of funding was made available by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the to cover the costs of independent on-farm inspections and associated certification processes under the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme in 2015.

The spending came as Bord Bia also reported a 14% increase in the number of audits conducted in 2015.

Bord Bia has come in for criticism from farmers in recent months over its Quality Assurance Scheme inspections, which they say are too onerous. 

Bord Bia says the spend reflects the ‘continuing interest by beef farmers in the Beef & Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme’ and a ‘significant increase in participation in the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme’.

The number of beef farms certified at the end of 2015 stood at 45,388, which represented an increase of 796 on 2014. 

This level of certification of beef ensures that over 90% of all beef produced in Ireland is from Quality Assured farms. Participation of lamb producers in the BLQAS has plateaued at around 12,000 farms.

Membership of the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme continues to grow with 86% more audits conducted in 2015 compared to the previous year. Membership of the scheme stood at 9,582 at year end, up 6,365 on 2014.

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Currently, there are over 52,000 producers and 120 processors and packers certified members across all the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Schemes. They are inspected regularly before they can be certified and allowed use of the Quality Mark.

Levy

In 2015, Bord Bia raised some €5.4m in income from a statutory levy per head on slaughtered or exported livestock. Rates are set at €1.90 per head for cattle, 25c per head for sheep and 35c per head for pigs.

New Scheme

Following months of negotiations, farm organisations and Bord Bia recently came to an agreement on the development of a new Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme.

According to a Bord Bia spokesperson, the scheme is currently with Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) and it expects to be rolling it out early in the new year.

The review of the scheme was address the key areas of concern to farmers on quality assurance, including farm audits, standards and compliance issues as well as a more farmer friendly approach.

Some of the changes understood to have been made to scheme include:

  • introducing a new close out period, which will allow farmers to correct all compliance issues within a time frame, enabling them to remain and continue to trade in the scheme;
  • ensuring that the target timeframe for farm audits will be 90 minutes;
  • simplifying and consolidating the number of issues in the standard and the number of questions at audit;
  • introducing a pre-audit questionnaire that will be sent to farmers a week before the audit so as to simplify the process and reduce audit time;
  • removal of all reference to market requirements and specifications in the standard; and,
  • removal of all reference to EID for sheep.

Online Editors