Scottish beef and lamb farmers in the Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) assurance scheme will now be required to have an annual visit from their vet after the levy board revealed an update to the rules.
It has also become compulsory that the annual review of the animal health plan (AHP) and health and performance records is carried out in conjunction with a vet. Previously, both measures were only recommendations.
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The QMS assurance scheme is a requirement for all Scottish farmers who sell beef or lamb that carries the premium protected geographical indicator mark.
Compulsory vet visits and health reviews were incorporated into the separate Red Tractor beef and lamb assurance scheme in June 2018.
QMS has also confirmed that after a successful pilot, it will continue to make spot check visits to farms that have failed to meet full compliance in the past.
There are about 10,000 livestock farmers who are members of QMS’s assurance scheme, covering more than 90% of Scotland’s breeding cattle population, about 80% of breeding sheep and almost all pig farming businesses.
Alan Clarke, QMS chief executive, said: “With reassurance about the way animals are looked after becoming ever more important to consumers, confidence in these standards is essential to underpin the integrity of our premium Scotch brands.
“Spot checks allow us to manage reputational risk and provide assurance to consumers, as well as underpinning the ongoing credibility of our brands and assurance schemes.”
Members will receive a copy of the updated standards by post in the coming days.