Scottish farmers are being urged to ensure their records are in order ahead of government farm inspections which could result in penalties to farm subsidy payments.
Inspections, part of the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) 2013, are now under way, with inspectors from the Scottish Government Rural Payments & Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) visiting farmers often at short notice.
“Inspections can create stress for farmers who are juggling day-to-day tasks on their holding with the demands that paperwork can place upon them,” said CKD Galbraith consultant Gordon McConachie.
“However, it is important that this administration is tended to which will ensure that vital support payments, which businesses rely on, are protected and paid out when expected.”
Inspections are often instigated as a result of irregularities on previous visits or moving, tagging or registration queries with the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS), he said.
“Mapping can also play a part in deciding the timing of a visit from inspectors. However, it is important to emphasise that the time since the last visit can play a part and that farms can be chosen for inspection at random any time,” added Mr McConachie.
Ahead of any inspections, he urged farmers to ask the following questions:
- Are all cattle passports in order? Are all animals correctly tagged?
- Have all movements been recorded accurately with BCMS or the Scottish Animal Movement Unit (SAMU)?
- Have all IACS mapping issues been resolved?
- Have all land eligibility issues been checked in order to protect your single farm payment?
- Do you fully understand cross compliance issues and their implications on payments?
- Has all the work been done correctly on Scotland Rural Development Programme agri-environment schemes?
- Are the correct consents in place with organisations such as Scottish Environment Protection Agency or Scottish Natural Heritage?
- Are all sheep tagged correctly and the holding register kept up to date?
“Unfortunately I have witnessed many examples where farmers attempt to correct issues once inspectors appear. This is too late, however, and will often result in penalties being levied on support payments,” said Mr McConachie.