The IFA is opposed to the concept of lifetime beef quality assurance, according to the organisation’s Livestock Committee Chairman Henry Burns.

He described such a development as not practicable and undeliverable.

“It would add nothing to reassuring the consumer about the quality or provenance of beef,” he said

Burns added that the reality of the farm structure and livestock markets in Ireland means that there is a total of 2.8m animal movements every year through the marts and courtesy of farm-to-farm movements.

He was commenting in the wake of growing concerns that supermarkets and/or the Red Tractor organisation will push to have lifetime quality assurance made mandatory for cattle processed to fill retail beef orders in the UK.

“Retailers and processors need to recognise the reality of this situation. The IFA has raised concerns on the matter with Minister Coveney as part of the Beef Forum,” he said

Commenting on this issue, a Meat Industry Ireland spokesperson stated that any moves towards whole-life assurance by Red Tractor would undoubtedly have implications for Ireland, in terms of equivalence of quality assurance schemes when accessing the UK market.

“However the Bord Bia quality assurance scheme is internationally accredited and is very comprehensive with many additional facets, not covered by Red Tractor, including the measurement of carbon footprint for every Irish beef farm.

“We understand that whole-life assurance is being considered by Red Tractor and such a move could put pressure on Ireland in terms of maintaining existing access to those UK retailers that currently buy Irish beef.

“This potential move certainly highlights the futility of some stakeholder claims, here in Ireland, that we should actually reduce the 70-day requirement.

“Furthermore, it clearly highlights the importance of maximising the number of Irish beef producers that are participating in the quality assurance scheme, to ensure that we maximise the percentage of the animal’s life which is spent on quality assured farms.”