Sir; High proportions of beef imported by supermarkets are not farm assured. The NBA has done everything to alert the industry to the probability that Bord Bia is preventing confirmation of that by stalling over Beef Quality Assurance Scheme accreditation in the Irish Republic. Such farm assurance is demanded by suppliers and is unlikely to be forthcoming for some months.

It now appears that Bord Bia will never respond to the questions the NBA first put to it on 21 August.

We are also quite sure that if Bord Bia had been able to provide answers it would have already done so.

The NBA is certain there is a huge hole in farm assurance cover in the ROI. It is determined to ensure that conditions demanded of UK suppliers by UK retailers also apply to all imported product.

We hope to have more to say when we have had replies to queries put before the European Commission, the FSA and the Irish Minister of Agriculture, Mary Coughlan.

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