Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 19 November 2017

Sheep producers call for clarity on use of NI imports

ICSA claim issues may arise over credibility of Origin Green labelling

The Origin Green scheme rolled out by Bord Bia

Martin Ryan

Sheep farmers are calling for more stringent supervision by Bord Bia on the use of the Origin Green Irish labelling to ensure its credibility in the light of high levels of imports from Northern Ireland and Britain.

ICSA sheep chairman, John Brooks, said that Bord Bia has a responsibility to lamb producers, who contribute directly to the funding of the organisation, to ensure that there is no misuse of the Irish label in the marketing of lamb which is processed here but does not originate from farms in the Republic.

"It is well known that in addition to the live imports of lamb, lamb carcases are coming from outside the State for processing in this country," he said.

"We are entitled to full clarity from Bord Bia on the labelling of this product, and details of where it is going to on the supermarket shelves."

A spokesperson for Bord Bia told Farming Independent that: "The Bord Bia quality assurance standard covers traceability at farm and factory level. The Quality Mark on a product means that it has been produced in accordance with the required Quality Assurance standards, i.e. born, reared and slaughtered in Ireland."

The Bord Bia stated definition is that the Bord Bia Q Mark on a product means that the product has been produced in accordance with the required quality assurance standards. The flag and 'Origin Ireland' label verify that it was produced, in its entirety, in the Republic of Ireland.

In relation to sheep imports, Bord Bia stated that: "The vast majority of lamb imports are live and come from Northern Ireland, accounting for approximately 14-18pc of the Irish national throughput. For 2017 to date, 109,000 live sheep have been exported from Northern Ireland to Republic of Ireland plants, compared to a five-year average of 113,000."

John Brooks said that there is necessity for much more clarity from Bord Bia and the processing sector on how, and to what markets, imported sheep and sheep carcasses were sold.

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"We are very wary about what is going on in the processing industry and why imports are necessary into a country which is a major exporter of lamb meat," Brooks said.

"Is this product going on to the supermarket shelves in this country and what label is it carrying? If it is being sold in our supermarkets, is there enough clarity for the housewife to know what she is purchasing? Is lamb originating from outside of the state clearly labelled as such? That is a job for Bord Bia in the supervision of the QA and Origin Green labelling," he said.

Brooks added that the conditions to qualify for the revamped Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme for cattle and sheep had be more clearly defined. Claiming that the scheme had been hijacked by the processors for their own benefit, he said farmers needed more clarity on the actual Bord Bia entry requirements.

"In the revised scheme it should be made clear to all participants as to the requirements for Bord Bia Quality Assurance bonus, and if the factories want to have additional requirements included, they should be specified separately and should be paid for separately. They should not be related to producers as part of the Bord Bia Scheme," he insisted.


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