Farm assurance bodies are starting to resume farm visits after being forced to defer inspections or work remotely during the coronavirus lockdown.
Quality Meat Scotland has announced that physical assessments will restart from 28 June in cases where a remote assessment is not possible, with assessors wearing PPE and following strict social distancing rules.
Where possible, farmers will be asked to submit their records to the inspector before the visit takes place to limit the amount of time they will need to spend on the farm.
At the start of June RSPCA Assured resumed “contactless” in-person inspections, as long as both the farmer and the assessor agreed that such approach was acceptable.
Northern Ireland’s Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme (NIBL FQAS) also resumed outdoor inspections on 8 June.
However, the Red Tractor assurance scheme, which oversees more than 46,000 British farms, has confirmed it will be sticking to remote inspections for the time being.
Red Tractor, the UK’s largest food and farming assurance scheme, rolled out a remote assessment programme in April, using an online portal to allow farmers to upload documents and records, followed up by a video call to allow the inspector to make a visual assessment of the farm.
Thousands of farmers have completed remote assessments, with the feedback being that the process is as smooth and robust as a physical audit, according to a Red Tractor spokesman.
“Currently we’re still conducting remote assessments while we review our inspection regime to ensure the measures we have in place are safe and sustainable for our members and inspectors,” the spokesman said.
“As soon as there is any change to this situation we will let our members and the wider industry know.”