24 May 1996

BSEcrisis gives FABBL a boost

Application for membership of quality assurance schemes has increased out of all proportion in recent weeks. Rebecca Austin reports on FABBLs progress

A THOUSAND livestock producers are joining Farm Assured British Beef and Lamb every month since the BSEcrisis started compared with 200 new members a month last year.

And two-thirds of abattoirs buying stock through Dalgety Livestock have asked for farm assurance since the BSE scare.

As a result, 70% of cattle and 40% of sheep sourced by Charles Overland and Jonathan Stanley, Dalgety Livestock procurement officers, have come from farms which now have FABBL membership.

It is the holding, rather than the stock, which is inspected prior to a producer being accepted for FABBL membership. Mr Stanley posts a copy of the inspection report to an interested client, along with FABBL brochures which outline the schemes objectives and standards.

On farm he checks and establishes the standards of each area outlined (see box).

The medicine book is where most people fall foul and fail to gain FABBL membership as records fall behind and lack sufficient detail, says Mr Stanley.

Dalgety Livestock pays for corporate membership of FABBL, and then charges individual producers £25 for initial inspections. When producers market stock through the company, however, they only have to pay £10. Annual charges stand at £25 thereafter.

Despite the schemes popularity in recent weeks, and the proliferation of regional assurance schemes, Mr Stanley feels FABBLs standards should be monitored more closely. "The guidelines need improving and must be maintained if the industry wants consumer confidence," he says.

Areas he feels need looking at in greater detail include:

&#8226 Traceability. Electronic tagging may be the answer but not for a while.

&#8226 Adding a duplicate page to the medicine book, as is available for movement records.

&#8226 Recording all relevant data on CIDs and passports.

&#8226 Increasing the number of spot checks.

Mr Stanley is recruiting 10 new farms each week, as compared with 10 a month prior to Mar 20. "Any producer which doesnt go down this route will be disadvantaged severely soon as they are restricting their marketing options," he warns.

&#8226 Origin of livestock.

&#8226 Feed composition and storage.

&#8226 Medicine and veterinary treatments.

&#8226 Loading and transport.

&#8226 Husbandry and welfare.

&#8226 Housing and handling facilities.

&#8226 Movement records and medicine book.

&#8226 Identification and marking.