A “small number” of farmers have been removed from membership of the quality assurance schemes run by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) due to a non-payment of fees.
Removal notices were issued by QMS on July 6, following a two-month process during which three separate reminder letters were sent to late-payers.
QMS operates six quality assurance schemes: two livestock (cattle and sheep, and pigs) and four non-livestock (feeds, haulage, auction market and processor). Membership of these self-funding schemes is voluntary and they are managed independently by the assessment and certification body, Acoura (formerly known as SFQC).
QMS chief executive, Uel Morton (pictured), said the organisation has a duty of care to the members of its assurance schemes, as well as to consumers, to operate the schemes in a fair, cost-effective and diligent manner.
“To protect the transparency and credibility of our assurance schemes it is vitally important that we do not have any ambiguity surrounding membership status,” he said.
“It is essential that our membership process is simple, transparent and clear and that we are not incurring unnecessary costs in the process of collecting renewal payments. Those who pay their assurance fees on time should not have to ‘carry’ those who fail to pay their fee after repeated reminders.”
He also said, however, that any farmer who has had their membership withdrawn as a result of non-payment can re-apply to Acoura and, providing their assessment visit is up-to-date, their farm could be back in the scheme very quickly.