LMC facilitates a Scheme Standard Setting Committee which sets and amends the standards for NIBL FQAS to reflect the quality of production, animal health and animal welfare that is valued by customers and consumers of Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured beef and lamb. The Scheme has been designed to provide assurances that Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured beef and lamb is produced in accordance with a specified Product Standard which goes beyond the relevant legislation and best commercial practice. The Standard Setting Committee is comprised of industry representatives from the beef and sheep production and processing sectors as well as a number of independent experts.
Farmers can voluntarily opt to be a member of the Scheme, and subject to them adhering to the required standards, they can use the FQAS status to market their products.
Farm Quality Assurance status aids marketing for meat products in domestic and international markets by allowing processors to gain access to premium markets (e.g. to secure supply contracts with discerning large retail and catering customers). This, in turn, leads to better prices for both meat processors and producers. As both producers and processors appreciate the advantages of FQAS status, and value the FQAS, they jointly fund the scheme broadly on a 50:50 proportional basis by way of membership subscriptions.
Farmers wishing to join the Scheme can obtain application packs from Northern Ireland Food Chain Certification by calling 028 9263 3017/ FQAS Helpline on 028 92 633024.
Once the application form has been submitted, the relevant membership fee has been paid and initial checks have been completed. NIFCC will organise a farm inspection at a time which suits both parties. After the inspection takes place there may be non-conformances to rectify. Once these non-conformances are rectified, the farm will become approved. On meeting the requirements of the NIBL FQAS scheme standards you will receive official certification and can sell your production as assured. Membership is for one year and must be renewed annually if you wish to continue to sell product as assured.
Whilst you are a certified member, you will receive a routine assessment at least once every 18 months. Some members will be subject to spot checks which are generally picked at random or because a complaint or breach of legislation has come to the Certification Body’s attention.
The Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) currently owns, and oversees the implementation of, the Northern Ireland Beef and Lamb Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (NIBL FQAS) on behalf of the Beef and Sheep meat Industries in Northern Ireland. An Industry Board, hosted by LMC, is responsible for the commercial management of the Scheme.
Yes, the NIBL FQAS has a dedicated Farm Liaison Officer who works Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm and can assist to resolve queries with the Scheme prior to or following inspections. Call Farm Liaison Officer on 028 9263 3024.
The registration, inspection and certification of participants in NIBL FQAS are contracted by LMC to Northern Ireland Food Chain Certification (NIFCC), a Certification Body accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to the European Product Certification Standard EN45011. UKAS rules dictate that the "owner" of an Assurance Scheme, cannot also "certify" producer conformance to that scheme, and because of this, the LMC goes through a tendering process in order to contract an external organisation to deliver the certification service.
In order to ensure that the standards are met on farms, routine inspections are carried out by NIFCC inspectors to ensure that Scheme participants continue to hold the "Farm Quality Assured" status.