Farmers urged to attend ICOS Skillnet quality seminars

Farmers preparing for quality assurance scheme audits are urged to attend two free seminars to be hosted by ICOS Skillnet, the learning and development division of ICOS.

The seminars run from 8pm to 10pm at Corrin Mart, Fermoy, Co Cork, on December 13, and at the Newpark Hotel, Kilkenny, on December 14.

Farmers are invited to attend the meetings for free. The aim is to help farmers preparing for audit under the Bord Bia Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme and the Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme.

“Quality assurance and traceability play a major role in the promotion of Irish food to consumers and food buyers worldwide,” said Billy Goodburn of ICOS Skillnet.

“Obtaining quality assurance signals a farmer’s commitment to consistently high standards of production. It also requires documentation of records, most of which are legal requirements, as proof of the standards and practices that the farmer has worked hard to put in place.

“Sometimes a farmer has really good procedures but if they aren’t properly documented and recorded, which may lead to issues at audit. This programme is aimed at family farms with a particular invite for the person or people who keep and prepare paperwork for the Bord Bia inspection.

“It is a step by step programme which shows the correct process for preparation of records and farm documents for audit.”

The two events form part of a pilot information and advisory scheme funded by ICOS Skillnet held in conjunction with Bord Bia.

The meetings will be addressed by a consultant veterinary practitioner who will outline the regulatory requirements. A Bord Bia auditor will bring farmers through the process of completing key farm records on a step by step basis.

People will also hear from locally based farmers who will share their experience of the quality assurance audit.

“A typical quality assurance audit involves an overall visual inspection of the farm including the milking parlour and dairy where applicable, depending on the audit scheme,” said Mr Goodburn.

“It also examines livestock welfare arrangements including cattle housing, treatments administered and withdrawal dates. Health and safety measures, hygiene and pest control are also reviewed.

“Overall, it is a thorough process which promotes confidence among consumers at home and abroad around the acknowledged high quality of Irish farming and Irish foods.”

There are more than 52,000 producers and 120 processors and packers certified as members across Bord Bia Quality Assurance Schemes.


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