Farm walk series to highlight quality assurance and Origin Green message

A farm walk with Bord Bia and Teagasc will take place on the farm of Fergal Doyle, Tubberavine, Lahardane, Co. Mayo on Monday, July 23 from 7:00pm-9:00pm.

The farm walk, on the beef and sheep holding, aims to highlight the value of quality assurance and Origin Green to farmers.

According to Bord Bia, Irish farmers who are part of the Bord Bia’s Quality Assurance Scheme (QA) and Origin Green play a “critical role” in meeting the demands of food buyers and consumers for independently- verified assurances around traceability, sustainability and animal welfare.

Bord Bia aims to highlight QA benefits to farmers, and the food board says it will support them in preparation for farm audits during a series of farm walk events over the coming months.

This is the first of several Bord Bia and Teagasc farm walk events. Subsequent walks (dates to be confirmed) will take place on farms located in: Donegal; south Tipperary; east Cork and Louth/Meath.

The farm walk is a is a Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) approved, Knowledge Transfer (KT) event.

Market research

Bord Bia believes that farmers’ involvement in QA and sustainable assurance schemes – including Origin Green – is “strengthening Ireland’s reputation abroad as a world-class producer of food”.

Recent research carried out by Bord Bia found that most retailers and food-service providers across Europe want products that are part of a quality assurance scheme.

Mick Houlihan, quality assurance manager at Bord Bia said: “This is hugely important and gives Irish farmers a real advantage because many are part of such a scheme, which validates what they do every day.”

Continuing, he explained: “International buyers and consumers want assurances on a number of key issues such as animal welfare, traceability, production systems and sustainability, so involvement in quality and sustainability schemes really gives Irish farmers an edge and a connection with consumers.”

Event aims

Houlihan explained: “We want farmers to know that all audits conducted by Bord Bia are hugely important – for farmers themselves, for their business, for the farm, and for our exports – because these things are important to the consumers we are trying to reach.”

The walks will provide farmers with greater insights to Bord Bia’s Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) audit, emphasising the importance of audit compliance. The walks will cover:
  • Origin Green at farm and international marketing levels;
  • Bord Bia’s SBLAS audit and the legal requirements of farmers to pass this inspection, with a focus on maintaining accurate animal remedy purchase records and animal remedy usage records;
  • Farm-safety requirements (such as the risk assessment document);
  • Information on markets abroad – live cattle export numbers, markets that are delivering for Irish farmers, among others.

Farm walk attendees will also receive a QA information booklet, which will clearly outline what is required of farmers to pass their SBLAS audit. It will also provide tips on how to accurately complete records and avoid some commonly made errors.

Aidan Murray, Teagasc beef specialist, welcomed the farm walk partnership.

“From Teagasc’s point of view, we are delighted because Bord Bia is directly involved with promoting Irish beef as a premium product to markets abroad.

Our clients are Bord Bia’s clients and we want to work with Bord Bia to help sell Irish beef at the highest level.

“This ties in very well with what we, in Teagasc, are doing also,” he said.

Fodder budgets

Fodder supply and fodder budget for 2018-2019 are some of the main issues to be addressed by Teagasc during the farm walks – particularly in light of the ongoing drought in the south and east of Ireland.

According to Murray, Teagasc will also focus on Bord Bia’s SBLAS audit process and the need for farmers to record medicine usage accurately.

Murray concluded by outlining: “We export 90% of our beef so full traceability is important and it is essential that any medicines used are recorded correctly.”