National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

Press Release - No point in raising assurance levels for cattle feed and cattle if nomad..........

13th May 2013

Region: National

The National Beef Association says high level interests in the Republic of Ireland cannot complain about Northern Ireland’s efforts to boost the provenance of its beef, and the integrity of its beef production systems, because they were offered the same chance to improve the image of their product - and turned their backs on it.

“Our industry reacted to the all-Ireland 2008 dioxin scare by setting up a Feed Industry Assurance Group, so the risk of livestock being given contaminated meals could be reduced,” explained the NBA’s Northern Ireland chairman, Oisin Murnion.

“And these protective sentiments were reinforced in January when consumers reacted to the horsemeat scandal by insisting on the beef they were eating being taken only from UK bred, Red Tractor qualified, cattle.”

“Since then the discount on non-FQAS stock offered within the Province has extended from around £30 to £130 a head and our embattled members want to be rewarded for the almost total assurance coverage they offer by being paid the same high prices for their stock as their colleagues on the British mainland.”

“However efforts to earn that important additional £100 per head are being thwarted by the regular, weekly, delivery of non-UK cattle onto our market and it is no secret that further delivery of these nomads, which crucially do not carry the same Red Tractor assurance qualifications as our own cattle, is seen as a threat to income and livelihood.”

“Comments made south of the border indicate that Northern Ireland’s beef industry is seen as being unfriendly by taking this singular approach.”

“But we respond by pointing out that earlier this year when we tried, with encouragement from prominent figures in Dublin, to set up an all-Ireland approach to establishing assurance standards for imported animal feed, significant sections of the ROI’s feed industry turned their backs on a chance to impose provenance protocols that would allow them to reject inferior, or tainted, shipments when they arrived at port.”

“This left strategists, who were keen to extend the integrity of Northern Ireland’s animal production into a Fortress Ireland concept, no option but to continue with their Northern Ireland-only Industry Feed Assurance Group which limits its scrutiny to grain, and other feedstuff, deliveries arriving exclusively at Northern Ireland’s ports – and there was widespread disappointment at the South’s decision.”

“So can our Southern critics really be surprised, especially now that the horsemeat scandal has generated additional product provenance concerns, at our objection to the regular delivery, and slaughter within our borders, of hundreds of cattle from the ROI which have been given feed that is not backed, or protected, by NI Industry Feed Assurance Group’s protocols - and which, even if they did carry full Beef Quality Assurance Scheme credentials, could not match FQAS standards.”

“Quite simply we in Northern Ireland see little point in raising the assurance levels which cover cattle feed, and cattle production, to the highest possible standard if despite our regular objections, nomad cattle continue to infiltrate our processing system on a weekly basis.”

“If the ROI matched our standards in both the feed assurance and farm assurance arenas we would not object to their delivery. Furthermore we are prepared to talk with its representatives in the hope that difficulties created by cattle from one EU country being processed in another which has different assurance standards can be resolved,” Mr Murnion added.

For more information contact:
Oisin Murnion, NBA Northern Ireland chairman. Tel: 0773 963 2048