Spread­ing the mes­sage on qual­ity and safety

The re­vamped Bord Bia QA scheme is giv­ing farm­ers breath­ing space on au­dit is­sues, writes

Irish Independent - Farming - - FEATURE -

E need to sell our story — we have a great one to tell,” said Maura McCarthy on the suc­cess of farm­ing in Ire­land as she ad­dressed some 500 peo­ple who at­tended the Bord Bia farm walk on Harry and Amanda Mur­phy’s hold­ing near Ferns, Co Wex­ford last week.

A farmer and an au­di­tor work­ing on be­half of Bord Bia, Ms McCarthy was on hand to out­line some of the im­por­tant changes to the Sus­tain­able Beef and Lamb As­sur­ance Scheme im­ple­mented on April 24 of this year.

The scheme was one of sev­eral top­ics dis­cussed dur­ing the day which also in­cluded ar­eas of farm safety, li­cens­ing laws on the road, and health and men­tal well-be­ing of the farmer.

The newly-re­vamped Beef and Lamb As­sur­ance Scheme was of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to farm­ers who have greatly wel­comed the new close-out model whereby they are now given 30 days to ad­dress is­sues raised dur­ing an au­dit.

Pre­vi­ously farm­ers were ex­pelled from the scheme for six months, but this new ini­tia­tive now mir­rors that avail­able for the Sus­tain­able Dairy As­sur­ance Scheme (SDAS).

It is deemed a fairer way of giv­ing farm­ers an op­por­tu­nity to rec­tify some of the smaller is­sues that arise dur­ing the au­dit of ap­prox­i­mately 23,000 farms in­spected an­nu­ally by Capita Cus­tomer So­lu­tions on be­half of Bord Bia.

Some 7,700 farms have been sub­jected to au­dits since the new changes came into op­er­a­tion. Of those, a mere 10pc re­ceived a mark less than 60pc and were found to be non-com­pli­ant.

“Some of those chose not to process but if you do not pass on the first go, you now have 30 days for a re-au­dit. This might mean some­thing as sim­ple as pro­vid­ing pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence of a PTO cover, or some­thing sim­i­lar,” Ms McCarthy said.

Records show that the three key ar­eas where peo­ple run into trou­ble most of­ten are Health and Safety, Reme­dies and Pol­lu­tion.

The im­por­tance of keep­ing ac­cu­rate records for an­i­mal rem­edy pur­chases and us­age was dis­cussed in de­tail by au­di­tor Kevin Humphries who said that it is one area where many farm­ers fall down dur­ing an au­dit.

Pur­chase records

“It is a le­gal re­quire­ment for the Depart­ment so what we are ask­ing you to do is noth­ing new,” he said.

Mr Humphries used ex­am­ples whereby in­com­plete or inac­cu­rate pur­chase records will au­to­mat­i­cally raise alarm bells with au­di­tors.

“No­body can ar­gue with a pre­scrip­tion from the vet, but in some cases if we see dis­crep­an­cies over quan­ti­ties, that is a worry.”

Farm­ers are also ad­vised to make sure their us­age records are ac­cu­rate and up-to-date. “If there is only one or two de­tails miss­ing that can be rec­ti­fied, but if there is a lot of in­for­ma­tion miss­ing, that would be deemed as a ma­jor non-com­pli­ance.”

“In the case of with­drawal pe­ri­ods, farm­ers need to be fully aware of these ac­cord­ing to the med­i­ca­tions used.”

“With re­gards to the stor­age of medicines and vac­ci­na­tions, all must be locked safely in one room,” he con­cluded.

Other new changes to the Sus­tain­able Beef and Lamb As­sur­ance Scheme in­clude an up­dated sec­tion on Pes­ti­cides and the Farm Sus­tain­abil­ity Sur­vey avail­able to cur­rent and new mem­bers.

“If this is filled out in ad­vance it will shorten your au­dit by 20 min­utes, so it is in your own in­ter­est that it is done,” Ms McCarthy said.

“The scheme is there for ev­ery­one and all the in­for­ma­tion is read­ily avail­able, so be sure to check that ev­ery­thing is in or­der. Don’t call us when the cat­tle or sheep are go­ing up the line — it will be too late,” she con­cluded.

Au­di­tor Kevin Humphries speak­ing at the Bord Bia as­sur­ance event in Ferns

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