The National Beef Association has once again asked Bord Bia for
written proof that less than ten per cent of beef farms in the Republic
of Ireland (ROI) can produce enough beef to satisfy UK supermarket
demands for fully farm assured product from its Beef Quality Assurance
NBA chairman, Duff Burrell
The Association has also informed Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco, which
are among the retailers which import beef from the ROI, of its request
and made them aware it thinks Bord Bia's claim cannot be substantiated.
Collective purchases from UK supermarkets account for around 35
per cent of ROI production and each company has demanded that its
beef is covered by an independent, and verifiable, farm assurance
"Last week Bord Bia claimed it was a fact that less than ten
per cent of Irish farms produce 50 per cent of Irish beef and that
this remarkable assertion could be confirmed from official figures," explained
NBA chairman, Duff Burrell.
"The NBA has carefully studied the most recent information
on Irish beef farm structures and calculated that production from
38 per cent of farms, or around 32,148 holdings, would cover 50 per
cent of national output and that 20,000 farms would be needed to
meet UK supermarket demands."
"Bord Bia has at last confirmed that just 6,500 farms are BQAS
assured, hopefully with full accredited EN45011 certificates, but
these figures underline the extraordinary gap between Bord Bia claims
and the mounting suspicions of the UK beef industry, UK farm assurance
specialists, and some UK supermarkets."
"If it is to make its assertions credible the Bord must, as
a matter of urgency, provide the UK industry with fully authenticated
information on the number of farms that are fully registered with
BQAS, how many of these are up to date with their inspections, the
proportion of beef production that is EN45001 accredited through
BQAS and exactly what proportion of exports to the UK are BQAS assured."
According to the NBA the response is unlikely to be a quick one
because the Association first put these questions to Bord Bia on
August 21st and it has yet to respond.
"In the absence of a confident and authoritative written reply
it is difficult not to conclude that Bord Bia is uncomfortable about
the gap between its public assertions and the real shortfalls in
BQAS cover," said Mr Burrell.
"Our fear is that non-assured beef from the ROI has been sold
through UK supermarkets for months and that it will be many months
before there are enough BQAS assured farms to prevent this."
"Supermarkets make no secret of their demands that the UK beef
they sell must be from fully assured cattle and so they must cut
their orders from ROI suppliers to levels that are line with actual
"The proposition that just 6,500 beef farms out of 84,600 can
produce enough beef to meet the demands of all UK supermarkets and
continental buyers who insist on assurance, is quite frankly unbelievable."
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