Farm Ireland

Thursday 26 April 2018

Revamped beef quality scheme in the pipeline

ICMSA's Edmond Phelan
ICMSA's Edmond Phelan

Martin Ryan

A review of the Bord Bia Beef Quality Assurance Scheme is on schedule for completion within weeks, with the revised conditions set to be in place for producers by the end of this year.

Currently beef finishers are excluded from the Quality Assurance (QA) Scheme for a period of six months if there are issues with the farm audit.

This will remain in place pending the outcome of the overall review.

However, in the meantime beef finishers who experience difficulties in disposing of livestock arising from QA audit restrictions can apply to Bord Bia to have their individual situations assessed for an immediate re-audit.

ICSA beef chair, Edmond Phelan has described the time limit as "totally unacceptable" and called for the board of the beef promotion body in the interim to operate a 'yellow card' system for all beef farmers.

It is available to milk producers under the Dairy QA Scheme.

"They can't have one rule for a dairy farmer because he would not tolerate a restriction on the sale of milk for six months and another rule applied to a beef producer - there must be a 'yellow card' for everybody for minor issues," he said.

Mr Phelan said that very few factories are willing to accept steers and heifers unless they are from a QA accredited farm.

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The beef spokesman said he also found that factories were "looking for QA on cows even though they are not paying for it".

Mr Phelan pointed out that the Agriculture Department agreed to operate a 'yellow card' for compliance issues under the new Charter of Farmer Rights and it is now time that the Bord Bia scheme came into line.


Bord Bia has confirmed that the failure rate of farm audits under QA has increased by 2.4pc, with up to 3,000 beef farmers per annum losing accreditation.

There are now 44,351 Certified Beef Producers registered. A spokesperson for Bord Bia said the number of audits being conducted has risen in the past three years.

The spokesperson said the committee reviewing the QA scheme will meet again in September to finalise the standard. "Where a producer loses certification they can re-apply after six months.

"However where a farmer seeks to have an earlier re-audit, Bord Bia will assess the request on a case by case basis."

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