THAT’S FARMING – 22 SEPTEMBER 2016
Issues that were discussed with Bord Bia back in early 2016 have still not been dealt with, according to the ICSA. In a scathing statement, the Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers’ Association has called for immediate results from the supposed Quality Assurance Review.
The ICSA is frustrated that ‘the review of the Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS) has been allowed to drag on for so long and why farmers still don’t have an automatic right to a re-audit’. ICSA President Kent spoke at the Ploughing Championship about the issue, and said that this ‘was a big issue at last year’s ploughing where serious, committed farmers were being thrown out of the QAS without any recourse to immediate appeal’.
“Interestingly, a recent court case involving the Department suggests that no farmer should be subject to sanctions without having the opportunity to appeal before the penalty is applied. It is unacceptable that cattle and sheep farmers’ livelihoods, already precarious, are further undermined by being thrown out of the scheme and that no proper system of automatic and instant appeal is available,” explained President Kent.
He said that back in spring of this year, Bord Bia gave the impression during discussions with the ICSA that things were ‘going to be rectified as quickly as possible’. Kent is disgusted at the ‘unacceptable’ situation where farmers are still at risk of being thrown out of the scheme for six months, particularly as we ‘head into the crucial autumn time for slaughtering cattle’.
Even issues that were raised back in 2014 at the Ploughing Championships have not been dealt with, according to the ICSA:
“Again the board of Bord Bia has questions to answer in relation to the refusal of meat factories to allow cattle with more than four residencies, or with less than 70 days residency period, to be considered eligible for a quality assurance bonus. It is not acceptable that the factories wish to use the Bord Bia scheme selectively, taking the bits they like and ignoring the bits they don’t. Farmers are allowed no such latitude.”
“I am seriously wondering if the board of Bord Bia is fit for purpose. There is no point in blaming the staff of Bord Bia; the buck stops with the board. It is not good enough that there is no prospect of fair play for farmers in 2016 and I am calling on the board to account for its tardiness in sorting out these questions. In particular, the review of the QAS for cattle and sheep farmers has taken far too long and if the board does not see the urgency of the issue, then maybe it is time for Minister Creed to step in.”
No statement was available from Bord Bia when contacted.