ICSA raises concerns over ‘unworkable interpretation of clean livestock policy for sheep’

‘Outrageous that lambs that were perfectly acceptable this week will be blocked next week.’

Sligo News File.

The chairman of the ICSA sheep committee John Brooks has highlighted concerns about the roll out of the Clean Livestock Policy for Sheep under which, he says, processors are threatening to reject flocks.

John Brooks,
National Chairman, ICSA Sheep Committee

The ICSA understands, he said, that from this coming Monday a huge clampdown will come into effect with meat factories refusing to accept sheep and lambs they consider dirty.”

Calling on Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to take “a more reasoned approach” to the implementation of the measure, he said, there has been “a deficit of information from the Department regarding this policy from the outset.

“The images of Category B sheep that were issued are almost indistinguishable from those in Category C. At the very least there should have been live demonstrations held on farms or at meat plants to eliminate any confusion for everyone involved.

“It is outrageous that lambs that were perfectly acceptable this week will be blocked next week. All the blame has unfairly been put onto the farmer when the reality is that Teagasc has a role to play, processors have a role to play and the Department has a role to play. There needs to be a more planned approach to this and for solutions to be found with the coordinated efforts of all.”

Noting that “it is too late to work on these solutions in time for Monday,” he said it was “disgraceful that a clampdown on this policy be thrust upon farmers in the middle of the lamb fattening season when systems that have been used for decades are in full swing.

“In addition, we have no information about what will happen to animals that are turned away bearing in mind that owners may be hundreds of miles away from the meat plants.

“We also need clarification on whether animals turned away can legally be removed from the factory lairage and returned to the farm.”

He added that the present situation had the potential “to significantly impact the sheep farmer financially.”