Getting set for inspections – Livestock Chair’s Blog – 1 September 2020

With official land inspections well underway, sheep inspections to begin this month (September) and cattle inspections in October, now is the time to make sure everything is complete and up to date, says NFU Scotland’s Livestock Committee Chairman Jimmy Ireland.

We all know that when the pressure is on at busy times and you’re tired with a hundred and one things to do, it’s all too easy to forget to make an entry in your farm records.  There is no need to panic and there is time to set the records straight.

It goes without saying that, although inspections are resuming, the safety of farmers, crofters and inspectors is a priority.

RPID have introduced some necessary changes to the livestock inspection process which will allow inspectors to carry out their work whilst complying with COVID-19 guidance.  These changes include:

  • Communication by telephone with the farmer or crofter prior to the inspection.  
  • RPID will outline the collection of records/documents (the default continuing to be by electronic sharing of information but RPID have introduced the option of collection of records with physical distancing protocols). 
  • Inspectors cannot travel with the farmer or crofter during the inspection.
  • Maintaining physical distancing throughout.
  • Any documents handled on farm will be done with the inspector wearing gloves to minimise potential contact point transfer.
  • All identification tag reading to be done maintaining physical distancing.

Inspections always seem to happen at the worst possible time, when something has broken down, the vet has been called or you are just up to your eyes with other work but there is no need to panic and if there are any issues, such as bringing cattle inside, then speak with the inspector to make suitable arrangements.

They will check your records first before inspecting livestock and if extra people are needed to gather stock and make preparations, they will accommodate this. They are not there to cause issues for you but instead to demonstrate that you are compliant with the regulations.

Whatever your thoughts are on the department or the inspector, it’s not a good idea to refuse access, as this could result in you losing 100% of your BPS payment. At the end of the day they are just doing their job and showing that you are happy to work with them will go a long way to helping the process run smoothly.

With farm incomes under pressure and uncertainty at unprecedented levels, avoiding any reduction in support payments as a result of easily avoided penalties is more important than ever, so a bit of time spent ensuring you are as prepared as possible will reduce stress and pay dividends if an inspector calls!

Livestock identification and record-keeping are always areas where high numbers of breaches are found each year, which can lead to cross compliance penalties on your BPS payment. The most common finds during inspections are

  • Replacement ear tag details missing from flock register which must include old and replacement tag details and date animal was retagged going back three years at least
  • Annual inventory not being completed
  • Death/fallen stock details not kept/entered into flock register
  • Unregistered and/or untagged calves
  • Late reporting of movements and unreported deaths/additional passports. These carry penalties so it is worth doing a regular check to keep on top of these things.

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