FAQS

How are the standards set for NIBL FQAS?
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.
How do farmers join NIBL FQAS?
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 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 LMC by calling the FQAS Helpline on 028 92 633024.
What happens after the application is submitted?
Application form should be posted to NIFCC (details on application form)

Pay the membership fee (£55 + VAT = £66). Membership fee can be paid by sending a cheque along with application form, made payable to "Farm Quality Assurance Scheme" or by paying online at www.lmcni.com with a valid credit/debit card.

Some initial checks are then completed with DAERA.

A NIFCC inspector will then call the producer to organise a farm inspection at a time and date 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. 5% of producers will be randomly selected for a spot check annually also.
Who is responsible for running NIBL FQAS?
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.
Is there help available to rectify non-conformances or prepare for an inspection?
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. The Farm Liaison Officer also attends Livestock Marts around Northern Ireland each month also to assist FQAS members or producers interested in joining the scheme. The Farm Liaison Officer can be contacted on 028 9263 3024.
Who monitors the farms to ensure compliance?
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 ISO 17065. 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.