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Saturday 24 February 2018

Irish quality assurance claims questioned due to lack of traceability on imported feed

The Origin Green scheme rolled out by Bord Bia
The Origin Green scheme rolled out by Bord Bia
Ireland imports in excess of 1.5 million tonnes of feed each year to supplement the 2.2m tonnes of grain grown locally. Stock image
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

The Irish Grain Growers Association (IGGA) has questioned the efficacy of quality assurance programmes in the beef and dairy sectors because of the lack of traceability on imported feed.

The IGGA claimed the absence of robust traceability protocols on all imported grain and feed risked undermining the massive investment Ireland has made in livestock-related quality assurance schemes such as Origin Green.

Ireland imports in excess of 1.5 million tonnes of feed each year to supplement the 2.2m tonnes of grain grown locally.

"How can we sell dairy and meat products as fully traceable when the feed that produces these products is not fully traceable," the IGGA asked.

The tillage growers group called for "proper testing" and traceability checks on all imported grains. In addition, it said all imported grain consignments should be tested for Sterile Brome, Blackgrass and noxious weeds.

However, Bord Bia pointed out farmers who are members of Bord Bia's sustainable beef and lamb assurance scheme, or sustainable dairy assurance scheme, are required to source feed from an approved supplier, which is either a DAFM licensed manufacturer or retailer, or a Bord Bia Feed QA scheme member.

"Traceability is a key factor throughout the auditing process, and members of our schemes have to adhere to all legal requirements," it stated.

Deirdre Webb from the Irish Grain and Feed Association said imports of cereal are "necessary" as the livestock industry consumes around 5.6 million tonnes of feed a year, with at most 1.6m/t available from Irish sources.

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"All imported cargoes are pre-notified to DAFM and undergo a risked based assessment under EU regulations," she pointed out. "In addition all importers operating into Ireland operate under International assurance systems that include strict rules on sampling and analysis."

Ms Webb pointed out grains are sourced through assured chains and if the primary supplier does not have an equivalent check system in place then the shipper acts as "gatekeeper and must initiate extra checks and controls on these parcels".

Meanwhile, the tillage farmers' group called for the replacement of the current Grain Quality Assurance Scheme with a more farmer-focussed regime.

The IGGA called for "a bonus/ton led scheme" which rewarded growers for "fully traceable and guaranteed Irish grain".

The association said tillage farmers did not need a scheme which "placed more costs on growers". "This [scheme] could also be used to stop imports, which may have no traceability, being sold as Irish grain," the IGGA maintained.

The IGGA said the tillage sector had been largely forgotten as the downward slide in incomes continued this year. It claimed Ireland should consider adopting a GM-free policy, to enhance its "green and traceable image". It pointed out it would also boost the domestic tillage sector.


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