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Sunday 18 November 2018

Bord Bia looking at QA scheme for the marts

Quality Assurance plan would close 'gaps' in the farm to retail chain

Annual Continental Show & Sale of Heifers Elphin Mart. Lot Number 43A. Weight 675K. DOB 9/4/16. Breed CH. Price €1770
Photo Brian Farrell
Annual Continental Show & Sale of Heifers Elphin Mart. Lot Number 43A. Weight 675K. DOB 9/4/16. Breed CH. Price €1770 Photo Brian Farrell
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

A new quality assurance scheme is being devised by Bord Bia for the country's marts.

A meeting of mart managers and the Department of Agriculture heard that the proposed scheme is at a very early stage.

ICOS mart executive Ray Doyle said livestock 'whole of life' quality assurance was becoming the norm in England where the mart is quality assured as well as the farmers".

He said such a similar scheme here would emphasise strong traceability of animals and cleanliness which would be a "doubling up" of what marts were already doing.

"Every 18 months they would be audited just like on the farm," he said. Cashel Mart manager Alison De Vere Hunt said that while the scheme would be optional for marts, those that didn't sign up could "lose quality assured" cattle from the sales ring in the long run.

Ms De Vere Hunt said they had visited marts in the UK that were quality assured under the Red Tractor scheme.

Cashel Mart manager Alison de Vere Hunt
Cashel Mart manager Alison de Vere Hunt

Bord Bia's Michael Holohan said they were still in the early stages of developing the scheme and the standards and auditing process.

Core issues would be traceability, welfare, health and safety environment and hygiene.

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He said there were schemes in place at farm and processing levels, but sometimes it was pointed out there were "gaps".

The meeting also heard details of new animal welfare changes and a revamp of the Livestock Marts regulations.

A number of changes are being considered in addition to a ban on the sale or transport of calves under 10 days.

Licences

Mr Doyle said marts will be annually licensed under the new legislative changes to the Livestock Marts.

He said previously marts could be sanctioned if issues arose but now the licence could be withheld.

"We don't want it to become an extra administration or financial burden but most marts are working to those standards anyways," said Mr Doyle on the changes.

No sticks will be allowed on calves under six months of age.

Central Auctions manager Michael Harty said there were moves to promote the use of paddles which was "absolutely in order".

Ms De Vere Hunt said they have been preparing for some time for the new licensing for marts that is expected to come in next year.

She said it will put more emphasis on traceability, animal handling, welfare and disinfection. She pointed out most marts were working continuously to improve facilities.


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