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On-farm audits return

In line with the Government’s easing of Covid-19 restrictions, all Bord Bia audits under the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) and the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) scheduled from November 1st onwards, will take place on-farm.

Fully remote audits will only be possible under exceptional circumstances. All farmers who are due audits in the coming weeks have already been notified by Bord Bia.

Deirdre Ryan, Director of Origin Green and Sustainable Quality Assurance at Bord Bia explained: “The easing of Covid-19 restrictions means that under the terms of the schemes’ own accreditation body, INAB, it is necessary for Bord Bia to return to full farm audits for the next audit cycle. The remote audits have served the programme well for the past 18 months, ensuring the continued certification of eligible farmers; however, it is important to return to farms once again.”

Fully on-farm audits will continue provided they are in-line with Government guidelines on Covid-19.

Bord Bia is currently examining the feasibility of a blended audit option for beef, lamb, and dairy members. A blended audit is performed in two parts, whereby the farmer uploads supporting evidence (such as remedy usage records) through a secure portal to be audited remotely. This is then followed up with an on-farm audit of the facilities with the overall aim of reducing the amount of time spent on farm to make the audit more efficient.

Deirdre Ryan continued: “The majority of farmers adapted well to the remote audit process and the opportunity exists to retain an element of that system. Blended audits have already been trialled under the Pig Quality Assurance Scheme leading to an efficient approach for producers. Until such a system is developed, full on-farm audits will be the norm.”

In advance of visiting farms, all auditors must complete a training course that covers Covid-19 safety procedures. Auditors must also follow Bord Bia’s Covid-19 Auditor

Guidance document, which provides guidelines on hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and physical distancing. It is also recommended that farmers and auditors minimise the amount of time spent indoors.

The Bord Bia Helpdesk is available to assist any farmer who has questions about their certification or an upcoming audit (01 5240410). Farmers can also check their certification status online at qas.bordbia.ie/livestock/Verify