A new set of rules for the NI beef and lamb farm quality assurance scheme (FQAS) will come into effect from November 2022, the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) has confirmed.

The three-yearly review of scheme standards was conducted by a committee of representatives from various bodies, such as the Ulster Farmers’ Union, NI Meat Exporters’ Association, NI Agricultural Producers’ Association and DAERA.

Although details of the new standard have not yet been published, it is understood that amendments to scheme rules are mostly minor technical changes.

This includes new standards around disbudding calves and updated guidance on feed space allowance.

“Many of the changes set out are in line with legislative requirements and also ensure that the scheme remains aligned with the other UK beef and lamb quality assurance schemes which are eligible to carry the Red Tractor logo,” said Gillian Davis from the LMC.

All FQAS participants are to receive a hard copy of the updated scheme standard, as well as new templates for record-keeping. Compliance with the new standard will be a requirement for all FQAS inspections that take place from 1 November onward.

Plans for a carbon emissions calculator and grass-fed verification to be added to FQAS are not included in the new standard but will be rolled out later as a bolt-on to the inspection process.

The LMC previously said these two items will be added to audits later this year, with questions about turn-out dates and concentrate feeding required as part of a proposed marketing label for Irish grass-fed beef.