Sir; Lest there is any risk of Northern Ireland's Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (FQAS) being tarred with Robert Forster's brush (Bord Bia must give us answers, Letters, The Grocer, 7 October, p34), I wish to make it clear that his questions are about the Republic of Ireland's Bord Bia farm assurance known as the Beef Quality Assurance Scheme (BQAS), and not about the Northern Ireland Livestock & Meat Commission's FQAS.
Our FQAS was launched in 1991, and was the first beef and lamb farm assurance scheme in the UK. We have 11,341 approved producers in FQAS (as at 31 July); 98% are assured for beef (64% beef only, 34% with sheep) giving a total of 11,114 assured beef producers. This represents 70% of the 16,181 beef cattle finishers in Northern Ireland.
For the last completed calendar year of 2005, the proportion of the total home-bred beef kill these assured producers represented was 91%.