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NFUS Vice President's Blog - 21 August 2019

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. With inspections in full swing, now is the time to make sure everything is complete and up-to-date, says NFU Scotland’s Vice President Charlie Adam

That 9 am phone call or a car making its way up the farm drive can signal what every farmer or crofter dreads …  an inspection! They 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.    

SGRPID inspectors can arrive unannounced to commence an inspection, or if you’re lucky you may get a maximum of 48 hours notice. 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 per cent 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.

The Scottish Government are required to carry out inspections and the inspector from RPID will explain the purpose and reason for the inspection, how the inspection will be carried out, what they need from you and how long the inspection will take. 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.

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.

How should I prepare for an Inspection?

  • Return the fairness and respect showed by the inspector.
  • Make sure your records and documents are up to date and easy to access.
  • Make sure any claims and declarations are accurate and keep copies of your applications and declarations for reference.
  • When requested, and if possible, accompany the inspecting officer during the inspection.
  • Be prepared to present your animals and make sure handling facilities are safe and suitable.
  • Follow any guidelines that need to be changed if non-compliance occurs.

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!

A full Business Guide is available at https://www.nfus.org.uk/nfuscontent/business-guides/17512/inspections-are-you-prepared

Author: Douglas Ross

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