Irish farmers who are part of Bord Bia’s Quality Assurance (QA) scheme 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 will highlight QA benefits to farmers, and will support them in preparation for farm audits during a series of farm walk events in the coming months. The first such event takes place in Ballina, Co. Mayo on July 23 on the farm of Fergal Doyle, Tubberavine, Lahardane, Co. Mayo.
This is a Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM)-approved, knowledge transfer (KT) event.
Farmers’ involvement in Bord Bia’s Quality Assurance 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 foodservice providers across Europe want products that are part of a quality assurance scheme.
“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,” said Mick Houlihan, Quality Assurance Manager at Bord Bia.
“International buyers and consumers today want assurances on a number of key issues such as animal welfare, traceability, production systems and sustainability claims, so involvement in quality and sustainability schemes really gives Irish farmers an edge and a connection with consumers.”
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, among others;
– Farm-safety requirements, such as the risk assessment document; and
– Information on markets abroad – live cattle export numbers, markets that are delivering for Irish farmers, among others.
Farm walk attendees will also receive a Quality Assurance Information Booklet, which will clearly outline what is required of farmers to pass their SBLAS audit, and will provide tips on how to accurately complete records and avoid some commonly made errors.
“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,” said Mr Houlihan.
Aidan Murray, Teagasc beef specialist, has 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. This ties in very well with what we, in Teagasc, are doing also. Our clients are Bord Bia’s clients and, at the end of the day, we want to work with Bord Bia to help sell Irish beef at the highest level.”
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 recent period of drought in Ireland.
According to Aidan Murray, Teagasc will also focus on Bord Bia’s SBLAS audit process and the need for farmers to record medicine usage accurately. “We export 90 per cent of our beef, full traceability is so important and it is essential that any medicines used are recorded correctly,” he said.