In this article, we look at Bord Bia Quality Assurance: how to apply, what it involves and the benefits.
Bord Bia operates a series of quality assurance schemes for the food industry and conducts on-farms audits under the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) and the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS).
According to the state agency, audits are essential to maintain the schemes’ international accreditation.
After successfully completing your Bord Bia audit, valued certification is valid for 18 months.
However, you should note that the length of certification may be shortened at the discretion of Bord Bia. Bord Bia also has the right to conduct a small number of spot audits on scheme members.
How to make an application
The application process is relatively easy.
To join the SBLA, you can contact the state agency directly. You can contact the Bord Bia service office on 062 54900.
Alternatively, you can visit the Bord Bia website directly, complete the application form and return it by post or email.
The audit is free of charge for the farmer. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine fund the running of this scheme.
How to prepare
According to Bord Bia, most problems that arise during an audit link to non-compliance regarding sufficient record-keeping, particularly remedy record keeping.
The animal records required for your Bord Bia SBLAS audit include:
- Animal remedy prescriptions;
- A valid herd register/flock register;
- Animal movement records;
- Passports/blue cards;
- Knackery/dead animal reports;
- Animal remedy purchase records;
This means that if you have bought six bottles of an anti-biotic, you need to be able to show when you used this treatment, the dosage used, and the animal treated.
Should you have not used all the drugs you have purchased, they should be available to view in your medicine storage cabinet.
You should record all relevant records in your Bord Bia Quality Assurance book, which you receive following your application.
Farm signs should also be visible upon audit. The sign should state the following:
“No access beyond this point without permission OR no unauthorised access beyond this point. A health and safety statement is available – please ask.”
“This is a food-producing farm – please observe the biosecurity measures OR access to the dairy facilities (bulk tank and milking parlour) is prohibited unless accompanied by the farmer.”
In addition to the required signs, other health and safety aspects include a first aid kit, footwear disinfectant and a farm safety risk assessment.
Other farm records required for your Bord Bia SBLAS Audit include:
- Feed purchases, i.e. delivery docket or invoice;
- Own farm feeds;
- Waste plastic collection receipts;
- Vets name, animal products supplier, hauliers, persons applying spray;
- Pesticides usages records;
- Farmyard sketch;
- Animal health plan;
- Animal mortality and significant health issues record.
Bord Bia audit
Usually, a Bord Bia Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme audit take around 90 minutes. How well a farm prepares for the audit can influence its length.
During the pandemic, Bord Bia producers had the opportunity to conduct their audit remotely.
This allowed the farmer to upload any requested documentation, followed by an audit date. On the audit date, a Bord Bia inspector will contact you to go over the information uploaded.
Following a successful audit, the inspector will go through some details before finalising their decision.
According to Bord Bia, the audit report goes to the inspection body for initial review. Following this, a Bord Bia independent reviewer will receive the report for analysis.
Finally, the Bord Bia certification committee will receive the report for certification or other decisions.
Should an auditor identify a non-compliance during the audit, the farm has a one-month period to address and close out the issue.
Livestock residency rules
There is a residency requirement for cattle and sheep producers to qualify for the Quality Assurance factory premium.
The residency requirement for cattle is 70 days. However, if an animal spends 40 days on one quality assured farm, then moved to another quality assured farm and spends a further 30 days – then the animal is quality assured.
Regarding residency requirements for sheep, the period required is slightly less. The residency requirement for sheep to be quality assured is as follows: they must be in a quality assured flock for 42 days.
Bord Bia does not place restrictions on the number of movements a bovine has had to be quality assured. According to Bord Bia, this element of payment is solely at the discretion of the meat plant.
Payment system bonus
Your meat plant will pay any quality payment bonus, based on commercial criteria and market conditions at the time of slaughter of your animals.
This is an extra payment per kilogram of meat produced farmers can get on their quality assured animals when they sell to the factory once animals meet target specifications.
Farmers should be aware that there is no automatic bonus for Quality Assured animals at slaughter.
Furthermore, while your farm may be Quality Assured, Bord Bia claims that the ‘in-spec’ QPS payment depends on other factors outside of its control.
According to Bird Bia, individual meat plant set criteria to obtain the OPS bonus which can include;
- Maximum and minimum weight;
- Age (under 30-36 months);
- Maximum four farm residencies;
- 60-day residency before slaughter;
- 70 days on a Quality Assured farm or farms;
- Grades of O= or better;
- A fat score between 2+ and 4=.
It is the farmer’s responsibility to check with their meat processors on the exact requirements to receive the Quality Assurance bonus.