IRELAND – The Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC), under the guidance of the FQAS Standard Setting Committee, has finalized the review of the Northern Ireland Beef and Lamb Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (NIBL FQAS) expected to take effect from November 1, 2022.

The formal review process, which began last autumn, saw the committee complete a root and branch review of the scheme which takes place every three years, with the committee working to ensure that FQAS continues to develop to meet the needs of the industry and the marketplace it supplies.

The new FQAS requirements will go into effect at a time when sheep and cattle farmers must achieve significant efficiency-related growth throughout their operations, driven by the necessity for the cattle industry to lower its carbon footprint.

The FQAS Standard Setting Committee comprises stakeholders from the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU), Northern Ireland Meat Exporters’ Association (NIMEA), Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), National Sheep Association (NSA), National Beef Association (NBA), and Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA).

“All stakeholder organisations on the committee have an opportunity to feed into the process of reviewing standards in line with legislative requirements and industry initiatives.

“The new standard which was officially launched at a recent meeting of the FQAS board, sets out enhancements to eight main areas: Husbandry and welfare; animal health; animal nutrition; animal traceability; housing and handling; transport; environmental care; and farm procedures,” confirmed Gillian Davis, LMC FQAS Manager .

He noted that these important and timely revisions will help provide further assurance that beef and lamb sourced from farm quality assured producers continues to be produced to the highest standards.

The subject of animal health and welfare continues to be of paramount importance for the industry, Agriland reports, hence the new FQAS standard outlines enhancement to these areas.

“The 2022 FQAS Standard pays careful attention to animal welfare standards with new measures introduced to improve welfare of youngstock.

“Also built into the reviewed standards is improved guidance around feeding space allowance and updated standards on tethered housing systems,” Gillian stated.

She added that these improvements should be viewed as positive developments by FQAS participants and industry stakeholders.

“It ensures FQAS beef and lamb continues to confidently boast world leading standards for food safety, animal welfare and care for the environment while also remaining aligned with the other UK beef and lamb quality assurance schemes which are eligible to carry the Red Tractor logo,” she said.

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