FQAS willunderpin beef sector for years to come
University College Dublin's Professor Patrick Wall is on record as saying that the Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (FQAS) will take-on even greater significance for the beef sector, once Brexit becomes a reality. He is firmly of the view that the GB market will remain the main outlet for beef produced in Northern Ireland.
But, more than this, FQAS will allow processors secure premium market outlets for locally produced beef. Wall made it very clear that supplying commodity markets with product is a road to nowhere for the livestock industry here.
And he is absolutely right. Adding value is the future for the beef sector. We do not produce cheap food in this part of the world. Adherence to EU quality standards and the constraints of the minimum wage have combined to make this a reality.
Wall also pointed out that beef could play a role in halting the ageing process. This is because the protein in red meat can be used to build muscle mass in humans, from middle age onwards.
Taking this approach means that older people can obtain higher levels of physical fitness. This, in turn, helps ward-off the scourge of dementia and other similar conditions.
The only downside to all of this, which Wall was quick to point out himself, is that older people may not have the teeth to chew the steaks and other beef products presented to them on a plate.
But there was a very serious side to the message that Wall was preaching at the LMC event. We already know that the protein profile in bovine blood, for example, is an almost exact match to that required by humans of all ages.
The over-arching assessment that farmers are in the health business, as opposed to being simple purveyors of nutrition, really does stand up to scrutiny.
What the dairy industry has done with whey proteins as a source of muscle building ingredients is a template which the beef sector can replicate.