New Quality Assurance Scheme to be signed off within days

A new Quality Assurance Scheme from Bord Bia is expected to be signed of within days, after key issues were agreed upon at a meeting yesterday (Wednesday).

It is understood that at the meeting key details were finalised, and one of the main sticking points – electronic tagging for sheep has been removed and will be part of the new Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme.

A final draft of the new Scheme is expected to be sent to farming organisations within the coming days.

Another proposal, which is believed will be part of the final document, centres around the rule which up to now sees farmers expelled from the scheme for six months if there are compliance issues.

However, it is understood that under the new scheme, farmers will be afforded the opportunity to resolve non-compliance issues. However, ongoing failure to rectify issues will still incur a six-month expulsion form the scheme.

Farm organisations had raised issues over the possibility of a need for farm safety statements to be compiled by a professional, but it’s understood that following yesterday’s meeting farmers will be able to complete this themselves.

There are currently over 52,000 producers and 120 processors and packers certified members across all the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Schemes.

Producers are inspected regularly by Bord Bia before they can be certified and allowed use of the Quality Mark.

This audit is conducted by an independent auditor from a Bord Bia appointed inspection body.

Under the current scheme, in addition to meeting legal requirements, farmers are audited against a range of standards including animal health; welfare and traceability; water and feed; pasture management; environmental management and farm safety.

In addition, some of the main requirements for processors and packing plants include product identification and traceability; inspection and testing; hygiene and good manufacturing practice.

When the producer is deemed to have complied with the requirements of the standard, the herd will be considered for certification under the Scheme.