The Ulster Farmers’ Union has told DARD veterinary officials of farmers’ concerns about some procedures at meat plants.
At issue is the consistency of DARD veterinary officers and how they communicate with farmers.
“Up until now, farmers were not being made aware of pre-slaughter inspection issues for up to three months,” said UFU deputy president, Ivor Ferguson.
He said matters were then made worse because some were handled in a legalistic way that put farmers’ credibility and Farm Quality Assurance Status at risk.
“We are pleased DARD have agreed changes to their procedures to improve both communication and consistency,” he said.
Mr Ferguson stressed that farmers had responsibilities over how livestock are presented for slaughter. He said it was important animals are clean before movement to reduce risks of carcase contamination.
“In addition, if there are health concerns about any animal farmers need to seek advice from their own vet who can then make arrangements with DARD vets in the plants,” he said.
The UFU welcomed an assurance from Veterinary Service officials that the vast majority of livestock are well presented for slaughter.
“However in some instances there may be a difference of opinion,” said Mr Ferguson.
“I would encourage any farmer that experiences difficulties with veterinary officials to record as much detail as possible and contact the union about how to challenge decisions.”