DEFRA HAS launched a new pilot for a Whole Farm Appraisal Scheme, potentially reducing the amount of red tape producers currently face.

The scheme would streamline and unify inspection procedures including farm assurance standards, Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) limits, Health and Safety issues, on-farm feed preparation controls and whole series of other associated regulations.

The appraisal will include business identification, the area and ownership of holdings, the number of staff employed and livestock types and numbers.

Pig producers will also be required to indicate bio-security and disease prevention control measures including cleaning and disinfection of delivery and collection vehicles and procedures to prevent contamination of livestock by farm visitors, contractors and wildlife.

Health and Safety issues will include measures to ensure proper training of staff who keep and handle livestock. 

And pig slurry and muck spreading procedures will require NVZ compliance details, while outdoor pig producers will have to ensure that surface run-off and pollution risks are kept to a minimum.

Other features of the appraisal scheme include compliance with pig identification and reporting livestock movements to Trading Standards departments.

The safe use and storage of pig medication and antibiotics and observation of drug withdrawal periods will also be included.

At this stage it is not clear whether or not the proposals will become mandatory although in future completion of a Whole Farm Appraisal return could become a standard procedure. 

The pig industry is already closely regulated and most producers are members of farm assurance schemes with a good record of compliance with animal welfare and movement rules.  

But there are fears that the additional levels of compliance required may not be achievable except for the most modern highly capitalised units.