'Processors are threatening to turn sheep away from today'
Creed says new 'dirty sheep' policy was agreed with farmer stakeholders
The roll out of the Clean Livestock Policy for Sheep by processors, has sparked criticism from farming organisations.
However, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said the new rules that require sheep farmers to measures to ensure the cleanliness of animals going to slaughter was agreed with farm organisations.
Minister Creed said the policy was a public health measure, intended to reduce the potential risk to consumers that may arise if meat is contaminated by dirty fleeces.
“The need for an effective clean livestock policy is regarded as being very important not just in terms of basic food safety, but also as a reputational issue for Ireland’s meat industry and our export trade.
“Our clean livestock policy is vital for the protection of the consumer and to protect our export markets,” he said in response to questioning on the issue by Fianna Fail’s Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue.
ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has said he has deep reservations about the roll out of the policy and said processors are threating to turn sheep away from today.
“ICSA understands that from this coming Monday (today) a huge clampdown will come into effect with meat factories refusing to accept sheep and lambs they consider dirty.”
Brooks said he was calling on Minister Creed and his Department to pull back on an “unworkable and overly strict interpretation of this policy and to instead opt for a more reasoned approach.”
“There has been a deficit of information from the Department regarding this policy from the outset. The images of Category B sheep that were issued are almost indistinguishable from those in Category C.
“At the very least there should have been live demonstrations held on farms or at meat plants to eliminate any confusion for everyone involved.”
“It is outrageous that lambs that were perfectly acceptable this week will be blocked next week. All the blame has unfairly been put onto the farmer when the reality is that Teagasc has a role to play, processors have a role to play and the Department has a role to play.
“There needs to be a more planned approach to this and for solutions to be found with the coordinated efforts of all.
“However, it is too late to work on these solutions in time for Monday.
“It is disgraceful that a clampdown on this policy be thrust upon farmers in the middle of the lamb fattening season when systems that have been used for decades are in full swing.”
“In addition, we have no information about what will happen to animals that are turned away bearing in mind that owners may be hundreds of miles away from the meat plants.
“We also need clarification on whether animals turned away can legally be removed from the factory lairage and returned to the farm. What we do know is that it has the potential to significantly impact the sheep farmer financially.”
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