Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

New quality assurance scheme for beef and sheep farmers launched

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

A new scheme to replace the Quality Assurance Scheme has been launched by Bord Bia.

The Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme will be introduced in the coming weeks and will replace the existing beef and lamb quality assurance schemes on a phased basis over the next 18 months.

It replaces the Quality Assurance Scheme, which came in for severe criticism from farmers and farming organisations in recent time.

To partake in the scheme farmers are subject to a 90-minuted audit and according to Bord Bia changes have been made in response to new legislation, customer requirements and an effort to make the scheme more farmer friendly.

New aspects of the scheme include a new section on pesticides included as a result of the introduction of the Sustainable Use Directive; the inclusion of sustainability criteria in the standard; and the introduction of a close-out model whereby if issues are identified during an audit, the farmer will have an opportunity correct these in the month following the audit and receive/retain certification.

One month to get things right

The news ‘close-out period’ in the scheme will allow farmers address any issues raised during the audit.

According to Bord Bia, there are a number of ways that farmers can do this.

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1.Farmers can log on to using their herd number and a unique PIN number issued when they receive notification of the audit and upload the evidence directly to the Bord Bia quality assurance database.

2.Farmers can e mail evidence to the Bord Bia Helpdesk who can upload it to the Bord Bia database on the farmers behalf.

3.Farmers can text photos to the Bord Bia Helpdesk who will upload these to the Bord Bia database on the farmers behalf.

4.Farmers can post copies of close-out evidence to the Bord Bia helpdesk who will upload these to the Bord Bia database on the farmers behalf.

Where the close-out deadline is not met the farm is automatically not eligible for certification. Any existing certification will be withdrawn and re certification can only be achieved by applying to Bord Bia for a new audit after a six-month period

Bord Bia has also introduced a helpdesk for farmers, which they can contact to get help to make any improvements required.

Photographic evidence will only be taken on the farm with the explicit permission of the farmer in advance, and as a means of sorting problems without the need for another farm visit, under the new scheme. 

Online Editors