Farmers are facing significantly more onerous farm audits from 2024 onwards as Bord Bia overhauls its quality assurance schemes.

New animal welfare checks are to be carried out during audits, where cattle will be inspected on farm for flightiness, coat condition and behaviour.

A new digital sustainability platform, developed with Teagasc and the ICBF, will see farmers having to draw up a sustainability action plan every 18 months listing measures they can take to reduce emissions.

It is not clear whether farmers will lose their quality-assured status if they fail to follow the plan.

There is no clarity on whether higher price bonuses will be paid for quality-assured beef, lamb or dairy under the new audit regime.

There is also no indication if farmers will be expected to foot the bill for ICBF fees, agricultural advice and actions such as soil sampling, required by the new regime.

The inspection changes are expected to be signed off by stakeholders, including farm organisations, at the end of this year.

On Wednesday, Bord Bia said it would be “premature to comment” on the plans while they are still in development.

However, farmers applying for the new Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme in March will be required to sign up to Bord Bia quality assurance schemes for the duration of the five-year programme.

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