Dáil Éireann - Volume 498 - 16 December, 1998

Written Answers. - Beef Assurance Scheme.

38. Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the degree of progress to date on the implementation of the national beef assurance scheme and the traceability programme; the position regarding quality schemes for other products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27768/98]

53. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the proposals, if any, he has to introduce a national beef assurance scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27348/98]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): I propose to take Questions Nos. 38 and 53 together.

I am pleased to report that substantial progress has been made towards implementing the national beef assurance scheme, including the traceability elements. Phase One of the computerised cattle movement monitoring system was introduced on 28 September last when some 40 marts began recording details of the cattle movements through their premises and farmers and dealers began to make notifications about private sales. Since that date 30 more marts have been brought into the system and the intention is that all marts should be on stream early in the new year. The procedures for bringing meat plants and live export points into the system are well advanced and these establishments will be brought on stream early in 1999.

Arrangements for the introduction of the wider national beef assurance scheme are also well in hand. The Government recently approved the drafting of legislation to underpin the scheme and a detailed Bill will be drawn up in the coming months. In the meantime, the texts of standards to be applied by farms, meat plants, marts etc. have been the subject of extensive consultation with industry partners and it is expected that outstanding issues will be resolved early in the new year.

As regards other products, there are a range of quality related measures in place, and while there are no immediate plans to introduce a comprehensive [1315] measure similar to that being implemented for beef, a review is taking place on the issue of food quality and quality standards in general.