A major overhaul of Bord Bia’s flagship quality assurance (QA) standards is facing serious delays after the IFA withdrew from a key consultative committee.

The IFA move follows concerns at the level of additional requirements that could potentially be foisted on farmers, and the pressure being applied to agree these changes.

The updated QA standards are central to the evolution of the Origin Green programme and aim to reflect the increased importance of climate and environmental sustainability for food businesses and consumers.

Bord Bia had initially planned to launch the new standard in June this year but the process is running almost 12 months behind schedule.

Further delays are now likely after the IFA’s withdrawal resulted in the postponement of the July meetings of the Technical Advisory Committees (TAC) for dairy and beef.

The TAC includes farmer representatives, industry representatives, technical experts and industry regulatory representatives and is central to the development of the new standard.

Real fears

A senior IFA source said there were real fears of farmer reactions to the level of “asks” being sought in the TAC discussions.

These included increased paper work and record keeping, and far higher animal welfare and environmental requirements. “The draft animal health plan had 150 questions,” the IFA official said.

“The exact criteria and recommendations of the new standard are still at a draft stage,” a Bord Bia spokesperson said.

Bord Bia admitted that it was now “difficult to give an exact timeline” for the roll-out of the new standard because of the “consultative approach” being employed, and the need to test the standard “on farm”.